Symphonie déchirée

Torn symphony

— Foreword —

Torn symphony is a succession of 8 movements and Interludes, for 17 Instrumentalists and Memorized Sounds (on CD).

Each movement has a differentiated instrumentation and deals with different problems of composition and esthetics or significances.

This symphony is heteroclite or disparate or perverse or is mixed, is a kind of swinging between the revolt and pleasure, between realism and abstraction, impulsive and formal movement, electro and acoustic.

Started at the end of 94, it underwent several tribulations due to the disorders of doubts in personal questions and of the time passing and not resembling itself.

This symphony carries in it a revolt against all racisms, nationalisms and rises generally, against all the purities.


Titles of the movements:

Introduction                                                                        1 ‘ 34

1 – Harmonic penetration                                        ca. 13 ‘ 00

Interlude                                                                             0 ‘ 52

2 – Play of the objects                                                       3 ‘ 50

Interlude                                                                             0 ‘ 48

3 – Duality                                                                           3 ‘ 50

Interlude                                                                             0 ‘ 44

4- Torn word                                                                      4 ‘ 00

Interlude                                                                              1 ‘ 02

5 – Play of timbres                                                             4 ‘ 30

Interlude                                                                              1 ‘ 25

6 – Play of reflections                                                        8 ‘ 50

Interlude                                                                             0 ‘ 55

7 – The bells of Huddersfield                                         3 ‘ 00

Interlude                                                                             0 ‘ 46

8 – Tear                                                                       ca. 16 ‘ 00

What must make roughly 70 minutes.


Here some “analytical” precise details on the various movements.


The first movement was composed between January and May 95; this is why the following text is dated May 29, 1995. I’d like to make known this detail, because we arrived in March 98, and I try to synthesize the ideas that appeared during these three years that I would indicate as carrying perplexity.


Here this text:


1 – Harmonic penetration

Yes, that’s it; it is a slow and quiet penetration.

A penetration in a central note inside which one travels, one observes, one is interested in his qualities, its details, its surprises. Then one realizes that it is not simple, by connivance or by harmonics, then one explores also other areas that had not been foreseen in the first proposal that was a single note.


But what is single?

Would not be this yet an idea of purity which strolling there, or the idea of homogeneity, or the idea that simple cannot be complex. Whereas precisely, the penetration can only reveal the complexity of the things.

And it is just that one asks, otherwise one would remain out locked, and all the philosophical tales, all the stories, all the works of art would crumble at one go, not to have found any to want to enter. Of course all sexuality would be to put in question.

This way can be understood the title: “harmonic penetration”.  Without forgetting the multiple ambiguities and resonances which it can involve in its undulations.


2 – Play of the objects

It is a primarily formal composition attached to a concept of composition that I called “tautological” and that inhabits me since my very first works. One will find this type of formalism in one of the following pieces: “Bells of Huddersfield”.

The idea is to signify here that silence is a kind of character as well as the sound. A cycle is thus made of a sound object and a silence. This silence is not a prolongation of the object, but it plays a role as well as the object. Would I dare to say that it plays a soundless role? Or let us say, like a silent musical object!

The sound objects play as themselves. They are autonomous, but in tautology, they are brought to superimpose themselves. They are then combined, they are complementary or are disturbed. They also penetrate in silences acting then to them as revealing.

In this way, the play of the sometimes silent sometimes sound superimpositions is approached by a paradoxical and repetitive form, without receiving inevitably the image of the repetition, but rather that of a hazardous becoming, in which the objects are sometimes recognized, sometimes ignored.


3 – Duality

This piece consists of two superimposed monologues. As two people who speak in same time but about different things. It is the desire to know if two incoherent speeches one compared to the other can be understood, which would be the originality of the musical speech by comparison with the word.

Nothing to hide, I must say that is just a very fugitive moment where the dualistics seem to combine, but it is so short that one should not have time to become aware of it.


4 – Torn word

If Duality can engage a kind of trouble, this piece refers to the feelings, to the emotion. In Duality the sound matter was deliberately abstract, as much here the reference to the spoken language is obvious. If it were only the use of the recording as word captures. However the word is apparently insignificant, and it is precisely there where in hazardous inadvertency, it is the most diffusely significant by the noise it makes. In other works, I describe this kind of step like a search for “the interstice”, or what there is between the words, the sounds, or the gestures, and having there a hidden relation with the intimacy.

These “interstices” are more or less used in loop, the loop itself like “mechanical” stereotype, but also, like revealing.


5 – Game of timbres

Because of its abstraction, this piece does not require particular explanations. Its shape is well defined in a pseudo-repetitive system that develops in the pseudo-homogeneity of its timbres, which makes a play of it. It is perhaps in this suite, one of the most slackened pieces, or less grimacing that one can find.

One should take advantage of. I want to say by there, that this suite falls under an alternation of tension-relaxation and that it has its need to the dramatic balance of the whole piece.


6 – Play of the reflections

This composition, even if apparently abstract, is based on a completely realistic image. As its title indicates, it is about reflections. There are two sequences: one disarticulated and chaotic, the other undulatory and morbido-harmonic. They are the reflections of the sun.

In the first sequence or reflections on water, I observed that, sawn from the top, the water surface reflects two rays per wavelet on each one of their faces. The wavelets moving, the rays are perceived by the eye like a random course.

So I put notes, silences, nuances, etc, in reserves and I chose for each reflection two notes (short), one duration of silence, one nuance and one instrumentation.

In this way the duration of silences changes for each instrument, the reflections can meet, combine and be destroyed by the assembly of impossible nuances. These are the basic rules. But for me, to play is also to cheat. When it was needed, I took again my freedom.

In the second sequence or reflections under water, I observed that the wavelets draw on the ground luminous and moving undulations. These lines move at the same speed and in the same direction, but their lengths are different. The whole of all these lines composes the rhombuses which are formed and become deformed permanently.

I thus wrote different modes but all in the form of rhombus and I made an extremely strict infernal plan of which I do not remember any more of the rules. But that worked. What matters in fact, is the emotion.

The two sequences are separated by a large “Plouffffsss” (splashes).



7 – The Bells of Huddersfield

After many hesitations due to the hesitation itself in front of a very simple project of writing, I was finally invaded by a doubtful certainty, which is equivalent to a certain comfort, appeared after a certain number of simulations.

A composition who’s principle is the same one as that of the bells. A memory of bell. Those of Blandy-les-Tours (I was 12 years old), that were perhaps one of my first agitations, if not in terms of composition at least facing the initial observation of what I then called “tautology”. This is why, when last year I heard the bells of the church in Huddersfield, I remembered my childhood; that gave me the desire to write a score…, simple if needed!

This piece of banal appearance would be joyously optimistic, if it were not gradually disturbed by the recorded sound (memorized sounds) of a terribly dramatic tearing and despair, little by little going until masking the orchestra.


8 – Tear

This movement is at the same time the end and the aim of this symphony; there it is in a way torn. Indeed, torn, that means divided into two; perhaps in a violent way. If I let myself go to my feeling, I would say that I feel at the same time a great desire of living and anger in front of cruelty. Revolt, anger, pleasure, softness, which bitter swinging, which loss of balance at the point to be likely to fall into despairs. Me. I am torn in it.

Then how does that work in terms of music?

By letting oneself go to great violences, to a great anger with the risk that it is without aesthetic quality, by breaking the ideas, by stopping the developments that could settle or by developing them too much. And then anger falls back. By letting oneself go to great softnesses even sickly, but which can become only grimaces.

And finally, by leaving this great symphony without end ………

That is really perverse.