- Year of composition: 1985
- Duration: 12:06
The idea for this piece came to me as I was recalling the stories I used to make up to put my daughter to sleep — fanciful tales, strongly influenced by the popular series of Philémon albums by Fred. The synopsis might read something like this: “A young girl goes a little too high on a swing. Each time she escapes a little more from the real world. On her last swing, she ‘goes beyond’…” This ‘scenario’ essentially allowed for the exploration of mysterious worlds, located somewhere between reality and pseudo-reality, between the narrative and the musical. The form is deliberately simple and accessible, like a bedtime story.
Il était une fois… (conte sans paroles) was realized in 1986 in the studios of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB), and premiered in June, 1987 at the Bourges International Experimental Music Festival. The piece was commissioned by the GMEB.
Jeu is an acousmatic work based on different uses of the French word ‘jeu,’ a word which does not translate well into English (there are two English words for ‘jeu’: ‘game’ and ‘play’). The different meanings of the word as well as its different use in expressions were ‘sounded’ (put to sound), in both the literal and the metaphorical senses. It is a kind of “cinema for the ear” where an abstract sound story is told using, from time to time, somewhat realistic and recognizable sounds:
Rules of the game. Circus games, Olympic games. Games of skill. Wholesale massacre. Parlor game. Out of play. To gamble with one’s life. To like to play. To ruin oneself at gambling. Make your play. The die is cast, “rien ne va plus”. The play of a bolt, of a spring. To loosen a window or a drawer. The game of skittles, of bowls. To have every opportunity. To hide one’s game. The big play. Organ stops. To play carefully. To play dangerously. Double play. A brilliant, nuanced manner of playing. Stage directions. “Stop fooling around or it will end in tears.” Plays of Prince. A game of the imagination. Play on words. A child’s play.
Jeu was realized in 1988 and ’89 at the studio of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB), France, and at the studio of the Université de Montréal (audio mixing assistance: Alain Roy) and premiered on June 8, 1989 at the Synthèse Festival of Experimental Music (Bourges). The piece was commissioned by the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB). The residency in France was made possible with support from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA) and of the ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec. Thanks to the guitarists, percussionists, and accordionists of the Paris metro, to Karlheinz Stockhausen (excerpt of Hymnen), to Perotin (for his Viderunt Omnes) and to all the staff of the GMEB. Jeu was awarded a Mention at the 11th Luigi Russolo International Competition (Varese, Italy, 1989).
Les flûtes en feu (Flutes on Fire) is based on the concept of the composer as an alchemist. With the use of computers and modern studio facilities, the composer of acousmatic music or sonic art, is able to treat the acoustic material as if it was a substance with a constantly redefinable morphology. In the piece the basic sonic ‘substance’ is some simple sounds of flutes. They are transformed and recomposed in various ways as to give a glimpse of their virtual potential. As the piece evolves, the relatively simple structures reveals new and sometimes surprising sides of their original gestures. There is also another element reccuring throughout the composition. A short metallic sound, reminiscent of the sledge hitting the anvil, signals the presence of a force that is about to change the shape of things. Finally, in the end of the piece, the sound of fire, representing the catalyzing process of the four elements present as the basis of all alchemy, breifly enters the sonic stage to confirm the process that has been taking place. As in many other instances where the ambitions of art touches upon the old idea of metamorphosis, working with this piece definitely made me realize that “all that glitters ain’t gold.” However, as usual when working closely with some sound material, my relation to the flute as a source of sound and as an instrument in general got a lot deeper, witch in itself is a golden experience.
Les flûtes en feu was realized in 1999 at the Charybde studio of the Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB, France) and at the composer’s studio and premiered on June 14, 2000 during the Synthèse festival (Bourges, France). Les flûtes en feu was awarded the First Prize ex æquo at the 1st Biennial Acousmatic Composition Competition, Métamorphoses 2000 (Brussels, Belgium) and was first recorded in 2000 on the Métamorphoses 2000 CD (MR 2000).