L’Histoire du plaisir et de la désolation  (novembre 1979 – mars 1981)

The Story of the pleasure and the desolation

The Story of the pleasure and the desolation was written between November 1979 and March 1981.

Three connected movements:

The devil’s harmony – Pleasure-desire – Round of desolation


The following texts are extracted from reflections in the form of “diary”, written during the composition and immediately afterwards. This is why they are dated. They do not have any literary or philosophical claim, but they should be taken as moments of the daily life.

During the composition of this score, I listened to much music of the beginning of the 20th century: Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky first manner, and also Bartok and Prokofiev. I let myself impregnate by the richness of these orchestrations, by the musical matter, which seemed to me innovation compared to those which came afterwards. Or did I listen in a new manner?


May 19, 1980

I realize that my Story of… the etc… is composed around the idea of duality (one could say antagonism, but I do not like this word).

Thus duality.


The 3 movements are different dualities. The first is a harmonic duality of the chords, or “devil’s harmony” because of the triton that is, as each one knows, the devil in the music.

The second is a duality of the superimposed lines, I could employ the word contrapunctal, but I find it too academic and sounding badly like often do the specialized things. Superposition of 2 elements, for example the percussion and the melody line, or the two melody lines like a canon (still a word I do not like obviously, it sounds like vindication).

As for the third part, it has a duality of themes. This duality is formulated in the succession.


I think it should be said that in all cases, the duality is not heard like discrepancy, but like dynamic balance. Heard like complement of the vital harmonies. The harmony and its desharmonic complement.

We are far here from the conventional duality between the good and the evil, the positive and the negative.


January 4, 1981

Which despair.

Failure of the life or failure to the life, choice of the war.

Failure to the pleasure, failure to the pleasure to live. One chooses the destruction and the man’s pleasure becomes the pleasure of the destruction, death.

The virile man, the horrible man in his violence of death, to organize death. The horrible and ridiculous man in his power and the absurd expression of his power.

The stupid man who destroys with violence, with hatred, the man who does not know the love, who does not know tenderness, who without power does not know the caress of the sensuality.


March 8, 1981

“Harmony of the devil” is the fruit of an emotion leading to the pleasure.

It tries to express the life without puritan constraint and the sound sensuality in freedom as much as me, composer, and thus limited in my knowledge and my experiment whatever it is, I could do it. As if freedom printed in the writing its own weakness, its own distress.

How to speak about the pleasure when all our education and cultural tradition locate it in hell. How something that seems natural in the meaning of language can be sullied with flimsiness, regarding the concept.

So much that if one speaks about the pleasure, one speaks at the same time about all that in life is covered by the cover of superficial and generally shameful.


March 13, 1981

I said somewhere that the pleasure needs time; that it spreads there. Whereas the desire can be in the moment.

This is why the second part, “pleasure-desire” plays with the two poles, on one side there is continuity and laissez-faire to get pleasure with this continuity, and on the other side, there are sudden desires, being sometimes incongruous.

There is also the duality between the slow and the sharp, this mobility, which is my pleasure. But not only mine, because the pleasure takes here a social function in terms of claim, to assert the right to exist. It is even the core of life that precisely by the social aspect is refused, by the game of power is broken.

In this multiform interdict, the pleasure is reflected like image of frivolity.


March 14, 1981

I often spoke about the music as a language that would be close to the spoken word. Thus in clear term, the music “would say” something, but would not say it in clear term. Or would say it in clear but complex term, or would say it in complex term, but not to be heard like clear term.  Or also, where clear can be understood in the sense of complex.


March 18, 1981

Of course, intellectually one reflects, one discusses, one claims oneself liberated, but is this deeply so sure.

Then my second movement slips.


At the time when the pleasure could become bright, where it could really take flight to whirl freely it smashes and gradually worsens in a violent failure. It gets into a flap while turning and falls down in mud.

Loss of the pleasure.


This time, I cannot say if I did not know how to assume the pleasure, or that this pleasure was not really the subject since it had to be shown that pleasure was impossible, or that it had to be shown that pleasure was precisely impossible because impossible to live, and that as pleasure was impossible to live, it had to be disgraced

And didn’t I fall there into the trap I wanted myself to denounce, and am I not also a craftsman of the trap, the torturer of the pleasure?


I do not know. I do not know any more. This is why there is desolation.