Les dérives du signe (CD) Track listing detail

Novars

Francis Dhomont

  • Year of composition: 1989
  • Duration: 19:07
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Ina-GRM
  • ISWC: T0030634764

Stereo

ISRC CAD509612630

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
To musique concrète and Pierre Schaeffer, its ‘ill-fated inventor’

“… one moment transported in beautified memories of the first ‘concrète’ illuminations of my childhood […]. Perhaps I was the only one to be so moved by the sound of these last ‘measures’…”

Marie-Claire Schaeffer-Patris, personal letter to the composer.

Novars salutes the birth of musique concrète, the Ars Nova of our century, by calling upon the resources of the computer. The intention is not to create a pastiche but, on the contrary, to testify that by the most advanced means a language has been passed on. It may also be possible to suggest, without establishing a simplistic symmetry, that there exists a link between these two theorists of a new art: Vitry and Schaeffer.

The ‘classical’ ear will perhaps recognize fragments from Schaeffer’s Étude aux objets (1959) and Guillaume de Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame (1364). These quotations, along with a third sound element — a sort of homage to Pierre Henry and his infamous door — are the sole materials giving birth to multiple variations.

A sign of change: ‘spectromorphologic’ (Denis Smalley) mutations give to sonorities of the Ars Nova and to ‘new music’ (as Schaeffer named it in 1950) the sound of our time. A sign of continuity: something from the original works (their color, their structure…) remains present, indestructible.

François Bayle writes about Novars:

“In listening to the works of Francis Dhomont, one senses a unique voice.

One finds traits and signatures: long ‘breath-like’ trajectories, masterful alternations of deeply engraved forms and light refined lines, play with proportions and moving masses. Like in Chiaroscuro — one of his most successful — a baroque taste for timbral richness and shadowy contours, interrupted by identifiable fragments, often with vocal qualities, always alive.

There is a sense of accentuation and deep breathing, leading to a finely heard silence, framed and placed with the meticulousness of a photographer for whom every background detail counts as much as, and maybe more than, the foreground musical intentions.

Novars contains refinements that add fresh color and new light to the work’s main purpose. The rhythmic cellular element is that of a slow dance based on a complex note, a pegged quotation (taken from the Étude aux objets by Pierre Schaeffer) and, detaching it from the ‘moiré’ vocal timbres (‘stirred up’ à la Machaut) projects on the work an evocation from the Pavane (for loved ones, certainly not dead!).

The breaths, thrusts, and ‘jetés-glissés’ (thrown-slid) of well choreographed gestures counterbalance the rhythmical accumulations forming a third sound character to this tale; a tale of time and contretemps, in riddle form.

Indeed, as the tale proceeds, it slowly unveils its sources of inspiration. Or rather: this unfolding comprises lengthy placements into perspective, of a distance towards quoted sources, with Tanguy-like otherworldly colors, of the beaches where this homage to the ‘revival’ evolves in “metal sky” (Giono) tonalities.

Dedicated “to musique concrète”, this piece gently illuminates its references and leaves us under its profound charm. As with … mourir un peu — is it its timelessness? — we are offered a strange yet beneficent moment of reflection.” (Paris, June 16th, 1991)

[ix-91]


Novars — 3rd of the 4 works in the Cycle du son — was realized at Studio 123 of the Ina-GRM (Paris, France) and at the composer’s studio and premiered on May 29, 1989, as part of the 11th GRM Acousmatic Concert Series at the Grand Auditorium of Rthe Maison Radio France (Paris). This piece was selected by the 1990 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC ’90) in Glasgow (Scotland), and by the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) for the 1991 World Music Days in Zürich (Switzerland). The jury of the 1991 Stockholm Electronic Arts Award also selected it for performance at its award concert in Stockholm (Sweden). Special thanks to Pierre Schaeffer who has kindly allowed the quotation of a few sound propositions, now historic; and to Bénédict Mailliard, Yann Geslin and Daniel Teruggi without whose patience it would have been impossible to domesticate Studio 123 and the Syter real-time sound synthesis system of the Ina-GRM (Paris, France). Novars was commissioned by the Ina-GRM.

Composition

Premiere

  • May 29, 1989, Cycle acousmatique 1989: Concert, Grand Auditorium — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)

Awards

Chiaroscuro

Francis Dhomont

  • Year of composition: 1987
  • Duration: 17:30
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Événements du neuf, with support from the CCA
  • ISWC: T0030551600

Stereo

ISRC CAD509612640

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Plays of ambiguity. Of course, this ‘chiaroscuro’ is one of shadows and light, of opacity and transparency of sound, of the incertitude between one and the other. However, beyond this, it is the ambiguity, the hesitation between spoken and suggested, between face and mask (warning: a sound may hide another), between manifest and latent, enactment and illusion. ‘Trompe l’oreille’ music.

As in much of my work, certain sound elements come from earlier pieces and are developed anew here. I like the fact that the discourse is continued, completed. Besides — and in homage to the composers of the Montréal concert organization Les Événements du Neuf (1978-89): José Evangélista, Denis Gougeon, John Rea and in particular to the memory of Claude Vivier — I gave in to musical larceny (with the unwary complicity of its victims) which, I hope, creates an iridescence here and there, a voluntarily enigmatic contrivance.

Mutation of the musical instruments: mobility, relief, colors among the shadows…

[ix-91]


Chiaroscuro was realized at the composer’s studio and premiered on April 10, 1987 in Montréal. This piece was awarded the Prize of the 1st Magisterium of the 16th Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1988) and was first released on the Cultures électroniques 3: Magisterium compact disc produced by the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB) on the Le chant du monde label (LDC 278048). Chiaroscuro was commissioned by the Événements du neuf and realized with support from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA).

Composition

Premiere

  • April 10, 1987, Musiques 1987 (2), Nouveau Théâtre d’Outremont, Outremont (Québec)

Awards

Chroniques de la lumière, 3: Météores

Francis Dhomont

  • Year of composition: 1989, 2005
  • Duration: 12:43
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: SMCQ, with support from the CCA

Stereo

ISRC CAD509612650

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

These “Chronicles” are an impressionistic sonic version of visual elements — an undoubtedly metaphorical act — a personal daydream of light based on a concept by Montréal visual artist Luc Courchesne.

With sound transpositions of luminous phenomena, natural rays or multiple artefacts, Chroniques de la lumière is comprised of three movements: Miroitements (Shimmers), Artifices, Météores (Meteors) or, if one prefers: adagio, allegro, presto-finale.

Météores proceeds by a progressive increase of elements, by slow accumulation, an increase of density, and a reinforcement of the sensation of speed and kinetic energy.

A progression is articulated, not only from slow to fast, but also from calm to agitated, from somber to clear, from piano to forte, from static to mobile, from simple to complex.

[xi-91] [viii-06]


Chroniques de la lumière (thus Météores) was realized at the composer’s studio and premiered on April 26, 1989, at the Doppler Concert of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) at the Spectrum in Montréal. Chroniques de la lumière was first released on the Halogènes compact disc produced by the Université de Montréal on the UMMUS-Actuelles label (UMM C 101). Météores was selected by the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) for the 1990 World Music Days in Oslo (Norway), and by the 1993 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC ’93) in Tokyo (Japon). Many of the sounds were realized at Studio 123 and with the Syter real-time sound synthesis system of the Ina-GRM (Paris, France). Special thanks to Bénédict Mailliard, Yann Geslin and Daniel Teruggi for their invaluable advice. Chroniques de la lumière was commissioned by the SMCQ and realized with support from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA). Météores was slightly modified in its proportions in 2005 and thus is a new version.

Preparation

Composition

Revision

Signé Dionysos

Francis Dhomont

  • Year of composition: 1986, 91
  • Duration: 28:22
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Jean-Étienne Marie, CIRM
  • ISWC: T0030516201

Stereo

ISRC CAD509612660

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits
To André Gribenski and Paule Gribenski, the voices of the frog and the songs of these musicians

operacousmatic between nature and artifice

There is a small lake in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (France), a poetic and intimate site located deep in the Alpilles. On full moon evenings, after the heat of the day, the sensual pleasure of contemplation is exceptional. In May and June — when nature is expressive — the frogs burst forth.

Jean-Étienne Marie, then director of the Centre international de recherche musicale (International Music Research Center, CIRM, Nice, France), to whom I had described those barbarian love songs, commissioned me in 1984 to compose a lakeshore opera — parodical, no doubt — in which all of the roles, from the diva to the choir, would be assigned to… frogs.

This is how Signé Dionysos (Signed Dionysus) was born. The title makes reference to the character of Aristophanes who, in The Frogs, hears the song of these “daughters of the bog.” As a matter of fact, aren’t the exaltation and ecstasy of these nocturnal singers somewhat Dionysian?

As with any respectful opera, this work has acts, scenes, tableaux. The plot: “A small Provence lake. After a warm day, the strollers leave, thus returning the lake to its natural hosts. The frogs return, taking hold of the stage and will ‘perform the opera’. Unheard-of, surreal, dilated songs. Naturally, after love, the drama will conclude with death…”

However, it is only entertainment. But what pleasure to play with this given sonorous generator of innumerable morphologies and also, once again, with the ambiguous ‘music-of-nature/artifices-of-the-studio.’ Truth or lie? Found, processed or constructed sound? All of these delusions confound the ear and, as with wine, alter the senses.

This brings us back to Bacchus!

[ix-91]


Signé Dionysos was realized at the composer’s studio and premiered on February 1, 1986, at the festival Musiques actuelles Nice/Côte d’Azur (MANCA, France). The definitive version, reproduced here, was realized at the composer’s studio in May, 1991. Most of the recordings were made at night in May and June of 1984 and ’85. Some sound processing was realized at Studio 123 and with the Syter real-time sound synthesis system of the Ina-GRM (Paris, France). Thanks to the enlightened and indispensable advice of Bénédict Mailliard and Yann Geslin. Thanks also to Marc Jaquin for his authorization to use some of his recordings for this piece. Signé Dionysos was commissioned by Jean-Étienne Marie for the CIRM (Nice, France).

Preparation

Composition

Revision

Premiere

  • February 1, 1986, Festival Manca 1986: Concert Francis Dhomont, Galerie des Ponchettes, Nice (Alpes-Maritimes, France)
  • February 17, 1988, Premiere of new version (1988): Eurakousma, Salle B-484 — Faculté de musique — Université de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)