creation : 02 septembre 2017 at Kalima Festival, Lausanne musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 10'
"I composed this piece to express my strong desire to rediscover the happiness that was in me in the good old days. The first rhythmic motif, echoed by two tubular bells, expresses my lament for a return to better times, as if to shout "happy days, come back to me!". The melody expressed in these "good old days" begins calmly and consists of a rhythmic pattern that develops in a sustained rhythm to permeate the piece. To compensate for this, the basic rhythm increases in volume to create a powerful climax. Tubular bells and the Thai gong play a melody along this rhythm and, after its climax, the theme heard at the beginning is replayed twice. A vibraphone melody is played over the silence and lingers towards the end".
creation : 8 septembre 2007 at Abbaye de Royaumont music and conception : Ondrej Adamek musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 14'
The sounds that slip, carry a certain nostalgia, solitude, anxiety… they resemble the human voice! The percussion instruments plunged into the water drown us in an aquatic sound that will gradually turn into a metallic scream. The cynical idea of the life cycle of fish came to me during the elaboration of this piece, a life that begins with hatching freely in the ocean and ends in the pressure of cans.
Creation : 30th September 2001, Festival Musica (Strasbourg) State Command for the Percussions de Strasbourg Composition : 2001 Number : 6 percussions (sextuor of Sixxens) Duration : 12′ Edition : Jobert
The composition project for the Percussions de Strasbourg was to include, in addition to the Sixxens, a number of instruments with harmonic (vibraphone and marimbas) and inharmonic (cowbells, small tuned gongs) keyboards. However, I was very quickly absorbed by the Sixxens to the point of writing a sextet. These instruments have the peculiarity, apart from being totally inharmonic, of not respecting a strict chord between them. The same note, the same figure can be heard differently depending on whether it is played by one or the other of the six instruments. It is therefore this idea of the multiplication of figures that is at the centre of the piece (harmony and interval becoming very secondary elements), like a three-dimensional musical object that could be observed at the same time from several angles, thus leading to an appreciation of it, to consider it differently. I wanted to dedicate this piece to the memory of Iannis Xenakis, for whom the Sixxens were conceived.
creation : 20 juin 1972 at Palais des Fêtes, Strasbourg duration : 20'
The titles of the three movements are explicit enough not to go into their forms. The composer's concern was to highlight, in addition to the virtuosity of each instrumentalist, the nature of the three great groups of modern percussion: skins, metals and woods. Each group is assigned to a movement according to its nature and its kinship with the style of that one.
creation : 02.11.1991 - Festival Inventionen Berlin (State command) musicians : 6 drummers duration : 15' publisher : Zerboni/Leduc
"Two premises are at the origin of this work: the wish to write for percussion instruments in a logic of homogeneity of realization (i.e. as if all the elements of percussion were only integral parts of a single instrument, played by several musicians) as well as at the same time the will to deepen data inherent to "chamber music", in such a sound constellation.
In the first movement, the instrumental sounds merge with those generated by the use of the voice and various ways of playing (with fingers or nails).
The second movement, a kind of short rhythmic burlesque, creates a sensation of "walking-walk", regular and inexorable.
In the third part, an ostinato movement sets the basis for a rhythmic and harmonic development. »
creation : 1984, London, UK duration : 8' musicians : 1 percussionist, amplified maracas and electroacoustic sounds
Temazcal, the Mexican word meaning ‘burning water’, combines a single pair of maracas with pre-recorded sounds. Improvising around rhythmic patterns taken from Latin American folk music, the maracas weave through a world of electronic noises and rhythmic shadows. In the words of composer John Adams, ‘The music of Javier Alvarez reveals influences of popular cultures that go beyond the borders of our own time and place.’
creation : 09.10.1999 – Festival Présences, Radio France (Paris) music : Marc André duration : 18' muscians : 6 percussionists publisher : Durand
The notion of ’Tempus perfectum’ originated in the new metrical architecture formulated at the end of the thirteenth century in Europe. This must be one of the most beautiful utopian concepts in Western art: the formulation of a ’perfect time’ or perfect meter. The latter would ideally allow the reconnection of the finite with the infinite, and the idea of a beginning with that of an end somewhere else. Such is the goal of ’Tempus perfectum », which was written especially for the soloists of the Percussions de Strasbourg. The works is also dedicated to Odile and Gilbert Charvet.
creation : 1924/1954 (21 February) at Colombia University (1954) duration : 15'
Ballet mécanique is the best-known work by the American composer George Antheil (1900-1959), written between 1923 and 1925, with a revision in 1953. Dudley Murphy and Fernand Léger directed the film with the homonymous title that was to accompany the ballet .
The Mechanical Ballet is a joint project of George Antheil, an American composer living in Paris, and filmmakers and artists Dudley Murphy and Fernand Léger. Although Antheil's score was to serve as the soundtrack to the film, the two parts of the work were not brought together until the 1990s.
The work was originally written for an orchestra of sixteen mechanical pianos (pianolas), xylophone and percussion before the ensemble was extended to other, more heterogeneous instruments. Thus the orchestration of the Mechanical Ballet became very particular since the score finally included several pianos, electric timbres, an aeroplane propeller and a percussion ensemble. Its inspiration is futuristic, even Dadaist. The term "ballet" is somewhat usurped, as the composer did not plan any actual choreography to his music, which was originally supposed to be the soundtrack to a film.
The premiere took place on June 19, 1926, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées with a success that was not repeated in the United States a year later.
The work consists of a single movement and its performance lasts just over a quarter of an hour.
As much as the painter, the American composer expresses the fascination that the objects of modernity at the time exerted on him.
In its 1952-53 revised version, this one-part, nearly quarter-hour score calls for only two pianos, two mechanical pianos and eight percussionists.
creation : 12 July 1972 at Festival du Marais, Paris duration : 18' musicians : 6 percussionists publisher : Durand
Kryptogramma: what is written in secret characters, in code, in encrypted language. Indeed, this work (written for the Percussions de Strasbourg) is constructed from rhythms borrowed from classical masterpieces which are codified in such a way that they become indecipherable. At the beginning of the score, a certain number of simple rhythms are exposed and then, as they develop, a canvas of ascending movements and large fluctuations in density begin to appear. From then on, the work develops through a series of variations (continuous or interspersed) on the relationships of intervals and rhythms arising from the ascending movements.
creation : 1996, New Zealand duration : 25' For orchestra. Commande du New Zealand Symphony Orchestra pour son 50ème anniversaire.
Part I – The Invocation of the Sea
The sounds gather in the air, music from the far reaches of the Pacific, the drums of Rarotonga in the East, the Gamelan of Bali in the West, the taiko of Japan in the North, the Haka of Aotearoa in the South. The sounds dart over the waves, mingling into the great crescendo, millions of voices singing, millions of hands drumming, as one.
Part II – Thus Spake the Sea Gongs
The flurry of sound stirs up little whirlwinds on the surface of the water, as they beg the sea to hear their invitation. Far below in the gloomy depths lurk the Great Sea Gongs. Unseen by human eyes, they hang motionless, bronze monuments in a world untouched by light. There, they have remained, silent, for millions of years, waiting…
A sound penetrates the depths. For a few moments nothing happens. Then, imperceptibly, a low pulsating begins. The gongs start to vibrate, to rise and rush towards the surface. The sea churns and boils, its colours changing, sapphire, emerald, steely grey.
The sea explodes as the gongs burst forth, gleaming bronze, trailing strings of seaweed. They hang in the sky, austere and silent. Trillions of litres of water splash off the gongs back into the sea, wiping out a small outpost of French scientist on a nearby atoll. The gongs sound a single cadential note and, without fuss, slide back into the sea.
CENDRES for three percussion ensembles – Opus 1- 1946 –
was performed in part under the direction of André GIRARD at the recital : « War and Poetry », organized by Henry PICHETTE and Jean-Louis BARRAULT at the Odéon Theatre in 1961, thanks to Maurice ROCHE who had know the piece since 1948.
It was also partially performed, with the composer as conductor, for the film on Claude BALLIF in the series « The man and his music » by P. WOLZINSKY and J.TREBOUTA in 1969. It was the request of F.PIGEAUD, General Secretary of the French Youth orchestras, that the « Percussions de Strasbourg » gave the first full public performance of CENDRES at the Festival du Marais (Paris) in July 1972, since when it has remained on their repertoire.
A work for three small percussions orchestras, CENDRES was composed in Bordeaux in 1946 and dedicated to the memory of all the war dead. The parts are :
1. Shock 2. Litany Rage 3. Contemplation (corpses, lost souls) 4. Dies Irae 5. Choral for the dead
« There is nothing more apt for expressing the silence of grief than unadorned percussion » wrote Claude BALLIF in 1968 (Revue Musicale N°263).
creation : 23.06.1966 at Strasbourg duration : 22' musicians: 6 percussionists dedicated : Percussions de Strasbourg
Composed for six drummers, voice and piano in 1966, for the Groupe instrumental des percussions de Strasbourg, which premiered it in this city on 23 June 1966, Chant après chant belongs to the second Book of Virgil's Death, a vast cycle conceived around the novel by Hermann Broch, this second book evoking "the nocturnal anguish that decides a creator, on the threshold of death, to destroy his work". Barraqué planned to produce several random versions of this fragment of Virgil's Death, one of which was to be reserved for percussion instruments only. In the original version here, piano and voice join the six percussion desks, which bring together nearly one hundred and forty instruments belonging to more than thirty different species (among them: Mokoubyos, Creole timpani, Thai gongs, etc.).
Such a broad use of percussion instruments, with "sometimes rich but often limited possibilities," notes the composer, "influences the writing itself; it is therefore often directed, inflected according to purely sonic imperatives that determine the fluctuation of musical discourse in the formal commentary. A family of timbres, considered to be true driving agents (with, at the extremities, long-resonance instruments as opposed to short-attack instruments and, in the centre, instruments with multiple possibilities), allows, despite the proximity of determined and indeterminate sounds, a serial articulation on the polyphonic level. In spite of the instrumental limitations of the work's programme, the texture is very complex, with intensities playing an essential role. The composer has been led to open up the dynamic range to the maximum; this is particularly noticeable in the many rolling effects that run through the work, some of which range from the most tenuous pianissimo to the paroxysm of force. To the waves and crackling of the drums, the piano contrasts a sometimes pointillist, often sumptuous writing, which is inserted into the sound device like a foreign body and gives it an additional tension.
Curiously, the voice is less predominant in Chant après Chant than it is in Séquence. Rather, it slips, sometimes furtively, into the openwork space of a polyphony of varying density. On a few occasions, she escapes from it for an instantly muffled cry. Yet the sung text probably carries more weight than it does in Sequence. He commissioned the composition of the work. Barraqué established it himself, borrowing shreds of phrases from Hermann Broch and setting them in a poetic commentary that he freely wrote. The whole is asymmetrically arranged around the central figure: "Seas of Silence", which is whispered by the voice of the instruments, abandoned for a moment. This central figure, preceded and followed by a long "pause" (to use the author's terminology), is one of the avatars of the silence-sound-silence triptych, one of the main motifs of Virgil's Death.
An epic work, a paroxysmal work, Chant après Chant occupies, in The Death of Virgil, a situation that we could have really appreciated if the second Book had been completed. As it stands, this important fragment constitutes, in the same way as the restored Time, a whole whose unity can be apprehended on the level of vocal, instrumental and poetic style, as well as on the less accessible level of form.
Commission : Percussions de Strasbourg , with the help of the Impuls Neue Musik Foundation and Pro Helvetia Creation : 14.02.2020 @ JAZZDOR, Strasbourg Composition : Nik Bärtsch Musicians : Nik Bärtsch (piano), Flora Duverger, Théo His-Mahier, Enrico Pedicone, Rémi Schwartz (drums) Coproduction : Festival JAZZDOR et CCAM, Scène nationale de Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy Duration : 60'
In the continuity of our collaborations with Jazz figures (Andy Emler Megaoctet, Bobby Previte, Franck Tortiller Quartet, ...), Percussions de Strasbourg venture in the universe of the minimalistic jazz of Nik Bärtsch. His work is at the intersection of contemporary music, jazz, and feeds on influences from funk. The use of repetition, as well as interlacing structures of elements in his music, suggests the influence of minimalistic music, especially Steve Reich.
creation : 02 April 1988 at Nice (France) duration : 15′ commission : CIRM/Nice/Festival Manca dedicatedto Les Percussions de Strasbourg
The mythical figure of PSYCHOPOMPOS is linked to the reign of the dead.
The Psychopompos is the one who accompanies the souls from the reign of the living to the reign of the dead, beyond the Great River.
Duality is one of the elements that characterizes the Psychopompos, two elements that form one body. The piece PSYCHOPOMPOS tries to give a body and a voice to an imaginary choir represented by six performers and six instruments on the stage, which during certain passages dialogue and emerge like the voices of an invisible choir. From a choir of souls living in the cylindrical body of the archaic drum. The instruments used for this piece are six friction drums of different sizes, a xylo-marimba and a bass marimba. This type of friction drum is called in Naples and throughout the countryside: Putipu.
This instrument is formed by a metal cylinder, one of the bases of which is closed, while a skin membrane is stretched over the other. In the centre of this skin is fixed a reed. The sound is produced by the friction of the wet hand on this reed. I chose the Putipu because this instrument is the one that, for me, best symbolises the idea of the double. The Putipu symbolically represents bi-sexuality. The cylinder is the feminine element, the reed the phallic symbol. It is the favourite hermaphrodite instrument of Pulcinella, the most archaic character in the Comédie Populaire, who is having fun but always wears clothes in the colours of death: the white of the costume, the black of the mask. PSYCHOPOMPOS is to be interpreted as a dialogue song for six voices in a low and mezzo register. The sound is produced either by the archaic technique of the instrument or by a new technique to be created. PSYCHOPOMPOS is written for the six Percussionists of Strasbourg who will have to lead the listener from the reign of the real to the disturbing reign of the indefinite.
creation : 21 June 1984 – Festival d’Angers (France) composition : 1982 commission : Ministère de la Culture (Direction de la Musique) musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 16′
Propositions 3 for six groups of percussion instruments, is the third piece in a series of compositions all bearing the same title, and each in its own way, attempts to explore a specific sound territory, in relation to a research more particularly focused on the question of timbres. The work is presented in the form of a vast dynamic curve of four linked sections that are played in one piece. Each of these sections corresponds to the use of a figure of unique intensity (fortissimo, diminuendo, pianissimo, crescendo), the exclusive priority given to one of the four major families of percussion instruments (skins, metals, keyboards, woods), and the use of a particular type of musical writing, organically linked to the intensity and instrumental color chosen for each section : Thus, for example, in the first section - fortissimo, entrusted to the skins - it is the rhythmic aspect that predominates, thanks to the presence of a counterpoint of four rhythmic themes played several times in superimpositions and successions of different times. The second section - diminuendo, entrusted to the metals - could be defined as a series of color and timbre variations on a musical idea that remains invariable and always uses the same instruments (cymbals and tam-tams) for its sound realization. The third section - pianissimo, entrusted to the keyboards - is characterized by the creation of a new harmonic and expressive climate, made possible by the constantly attenuated dynamic nuance of the passage and the exclusive use of instruments with specific pitches. As for the fourth and last section - crescendo, entrusted to the woodwinds - it rests entirely on the gradual and continuous acceleration of a rhythmic ostinato within which other sound figures, sometimes new, sometimes already heard, attempt to incorporate themselves in turn.
creation : 28 August 2005 – Abbaye de Royaumont (France) musicians: 6 percussionists duration : 14′ publisher : Universal
"A singer from Mozambique, with whom I often collaborated in Italy, used a kind of phoneme during his improvisations, a full, round and rhythmically unique sound. Aqba is my literal perception of this phoneme, whose beauty has always intrigued me.
Aqba is the poetic reference that runs through the whole work: a plastic sound that swings between the depth of timbre (first section) and the excitement of rhythm (second section). An idea, an ideal of beauty that passes through the ancestral to return to the silence of a breath, nel soffio tuo dolce.
Writing for percussion means entering the universe of X, the space of the unknown, where the alchemy of timbre constantly dialogues with the exuberance of rhythm. In this dialectic, the work Aqba, nel soffio tuo dolce pays homage to the first silence, to the intimate dimension in the experience of sound. »
creation : 10/04/1978, Tokyo music : Harrison Birtwistle ordered by : Les Percussions de Strasbourg musicians : 6 percussionnists duration : 30 mn publisher : Universal
« Belike this show imports the argument of the play. » — Ophelia, Hamlet, III, 2
In his literally unlimited ability to repeat differently, to spin out new ways of saying from old words, Shakespeare is perhaps a kindred spirit for Harrison Birtwistle. No one’s saying they’re brothers in attitude or orientation, mind you, but both have a stunning penchant for « recursive invention, » with minds like thesauruses for their respective media. In the case of Birtwistle’s 1976 « ceremony for six percussionists, » For O, for O, the Hobby-Horse is Forgot, the composer actually meets the bard head-on, and on similar terms. The result of one of the more fascinating and ingenious examples of « musical theater » in recent times, especially because the linking metaphor is so striking: it is the « play within a play, » that archetype of recursive invention itself.
Behind this meeting of minds was the « ceremony’s » fortuitous occasion: in the year Birtwistle composed the score, he was working with the English National Theater on incidental music for a production of Hamlet. It was that famous scene in Act III, when Hamlet gets traveling players to perform a pantomime, that Birtwistle decided to use as the founding stone for an extended composition — and thus did Birtwistle take his title from Hamlet’s bitter lines « …he shall suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is, ’For O, for O, the hobby-horse is forgot. »
Hamlet’s vicious irony is perhaps less the subject of Birtwistle’s score than the dumb-show itself, a wordless play of antagonistic forces which symbolically enacts the murder (of Hamlet’s father by Hamlet’s uncle) around which the entire play revolves. A banal and vulgar operation in itself, the pantomime prophecies the tragedy’s ultimate trajectory whose end, yielding a poisoned queen and pierced-through king caught in the eyes of a dying, epiphany-shaken Hamlet — he’s seen the scene before. The play and the « play » are reversed, the « within » inverted, and a vicious cycle of repetition closed.
With his penchant for brilliant « dumb-shows, » in which musical performers execute a vigorous, skeletal theater of sounds and positions, Birtwistle creates in For O, for O… a gripping symbolic ritual of pulses. He mutates the self-reflective element in Shakespeare’s theatrical scenario into a purely pulse-driven world of interrelated tempi. Two of the six percussionists are labeled « king » and « queen »; their movements carefully choreographed, they control the ceremony for the « chorus » of the remaining four players; all playing on a wide range of unpitched percussion, the performers revolve cycles of simpler rhythmic cells around an elaborately embellished central pulse; developed to cacophonous heights in the work’s middle section, the pulse returns in the austere last section.
Some listeners might feel that very little of Shakespeare remains in Birtwistle’s score, and to a certain degree the composer intended this as measure of his dedication to formal musical aspects. But in its self-spiraling menace, Birtwistle’s score is perhaps a deliberately emptied and silenced tragedy, a Birtwistlian « secret theater » tacitly mirroring « the argument of the play. » All Music Guide
creation : 28.05.2015 at Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg (France) duration : 15' musicians: 6 percussionists commission : Percussions de Strasbourg
« For this piece I imagined a large shadow theater performed around a central percussionist. Each percussionist plays a specific percussion family (for the center metal, wood or leather for five percussionists). Then are created, through the polyphony, synchronizations of more or less independent temporal layers, or by the more conventional liners, a drama in which each character is hiding behind another or comes to the « front » to make his speech more directly.
They are playing on the idea of resonance and on life that the latter can reveal from a simple attack, a « coup de theatre » so to speak! The shadows that act in the central percussionist’s resonances form a counterpoint that sometimes take ascendancy over him. The work of the same name created by artist Christian Boltanski has been a strong inspiration, a poetic perspective. The « stories » are performed in many ways while giving an impression of great cohesion.
More than a theater, a constellation of shadows playing, with respect to each other, a parable about what can be polyphony. «
creation : 16 January 1992, Théâtre de la Criée, Marseille (France) dedicated to Percussions de Strasbourg
There is indeed the Song of the Earth by Gustav Malher. But can this Earth still sing today? Shouldn't it be appropriate to sing for it, to evoke its beauty at the very moment when it is threatened?
If it is appropriate to speak of man's dramas, torments and death, it is obvious to express the same feelings for this Earth that gives us life.
In romantic expression, she was the generous inspirer, the inexhaustible source of all man's happiness. Today, we exhaust it until death.
Lost Waves: The Aral Sea
IMPALA: The African savannah
OLD FAITHFUL: Yellowstone Frozen Bison
SIAL,SIMA, NIFE: The magmas
CONFLICTIONS: The Mediterranean forest
Lost waves :
I evoke the Aral Sea which is drying out and has lost 70% of its volume of water. The vision of a puddle instead of a sea: not enough water to make waves.
The Uirapuru is this bird, an extraordinary singer, which can be heard in the endangered Amazon rainforest. Marimba song accompanied by Maracas, Claves, Guiros, Wood-Block… etc. François Bayle had already used a song by Uirapuru in "Three Bird Dreams".
Evocation of the fast animals which are the Gazelles, the Antelopes which belong to the "Cavicornes" family. I see these animals on the African Plateau of the Seringuetti whose speed is the means of survival; in participation, in particular, the "added values" evoke their ability to change direction instantaneously.
Old faithful :
Yellowstone Park, with its vivid and colourful spring, and its icy, motionless winter. During the winter, the heavy Bison, almost frozen in the square, covered with snow and ice and, paradoxically, the hot water geysers. One of them: the "Old faithful". Here, a "Chant de timbales" (and not a solo with all the virtuosity that this entails) accompanied by the quivering of studded cymbals, marimba, and light melodies of "covered" Toms. All this is at the limit of the audible, without dynamics, to evoke heaviness and sadness.
Sial, Sima, Nife :
At the beginning of the score is written: "Innig" (Innerness - as Brahms did in his last works for piano). Here, the same idea of penetration into the interior of man (in the realm of thought) and into the interior of the Earth. A sound path that goes from the boxes with "timbre" to the deep rolls of the Grosses - Caisses and Timpani.
Forest fires. Violence. Destruction. A polyrhythm based on the pulse of the cicadas? Bright light. Essentially the keyboards (Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Marimba) punctuated with Cymbals, Thai Gongs, Cencrros … etc.
commission : State command (Ministère des Affaires culturelles) creation : 26 October 1969, Semaines Internationale de Musique Contemporaine de Paris musicians : 6 percussionists, 1 piano publisher : Alphonse Leduc, nº AL25362
Archipels is a series of five chamber music works by André Boucourechliev. The composer inaugurates a new approach to interpretation based on the musician's free and responsible choice of form, duration or articulation of the music. The author specifies: "the choice made by each performer at each moment determines the unforeseeable course of the work; that is to say, it is a function of an infinity of constantly renewed collective situations that mutual listening appreciates, provokes and leads".
Composed in 1969 for the Percussions de Strasbourg, the ensemble is made up of six percussion groups associated in pairs, with a stereophonic effect resulting from their spatialization.
Source: François-René Tranchefort, Guide de la musique de chambre, ed.Fayard 1989, p.147
creation : 15.03.2018 at Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg (France) duration : 10' musicians : 4 percussionists
This piece for four percussionists deals with variations of four altered states of consciousness. "For each part of the piece, I chose a specific altered state of consciousness and looked for a rhythm that could evoke it. By 'altered state of consciousness' I mean a state of consciousness that differs significantly from the usual or normal state. It can occur during meditations, trance, hypnosis or dreams, … it can be spontaneous or provoked by particular events - such as the birth of a child - or by specific movements or a musical motive. In some religious ceremonies, specific rhythmic cells are used to achieve this type of state of consciousness. The origin of certain percussion instruments such as drums, shakers, bells and gongs is linked to rituals in which these instruments play an important role in changing our state of mind. This aspect of percussion instruments inspired the writing of this piece in which repetitive and hypnotic rhythms are interspersed with constantly evolving rhythms. »
Creation: Commissioner: Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: 3 percussionnists Duration: 8'
Commissioned by Les Percussions de Strasbourg from Maurilio Cacciatore, Corale is the first piece in the world to use the "vibrating stick", an instrument developed by the composer following his first collaboration with Les Percussions de Strasbourg in 2016. This new stick, which makes it possible to produce long and continuous sounds, was born out of research into the possibilities of sound creation with vibrating objects such as electric razors, while taking into account the difficulty of percussion instruments to obtain continuous sounds.
The title "Corale" is a celebration of the new playing horizons that this stick can offer and the newly imaginable world of sound. An innovative technique, corresponding to a new palette of timbres, which enriches the writing of percussion instruments.
creation : 16.11.1986 music : John Cage musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 17 mn publisher : Perter Editions
« In celebration of the work of Jean Arp on the occasion of the centenary of his birth ». The title comes from a letter written by Greta Ströh, manager of the Arp Foundation. This letter is part of the correpondence between Ms.Ströh and John Cage, concerning this project. There are 10 parts of which between 3 to 10 may be used in a performance. Repetitions may be made. Each player chooses 2 slightly resonant instruments (or more) of different materials played in unison. In the parts these are notated as + . The o in the parts stand for water, paper or other unidentified sounds. Dynamics are free, but should be varied. A performance should be without conductor, very slow, each player following his or her own beat. Each performer plays his part twice, but as each player keeps his own time, the second performance will be different, since things coccur at different moments. Performers may be stationed around the audience, or among them, or on stage. If the works is performed on a stage, the players should not be too close together.
Sources: Paul van Emmerik: Thema’s en Variaties; New York Public Library online catalog; Richard Kostelanetz: John Cage writer – Previously uncollected pieces; David Revill: The Roaring Silence
creation : 1942, Bennington College - Vermont musicians : 4 percussionists, 1 piano 1/4 queue (& sound broadcasting from computer) duration : 12' publisher : Peters
Credo in US is a musical composition by the American experimental music composer, writer and visual artist John Cage. It was written in July 1942 and revised in October of that year. In the wake of Pearl Harbor, this piece avoided the populist tendencies of fellow American composers at the time, while the piece’s title is thought to be a call to collective unity.
Styled as « a dramatic playlet for Two Characters », Cage described Credo in Us as « a suite with a satirical character ». It was composed to accompany a piece of contemporary dance choreographed by his partner and collaborator Merce Cunningham and choreographer Jean Erdman, who performed the piece at its premiere in Bennington College, Vermont on August 1, 1942.
One of a number of Cage’s percussive works, Credo in Us is unusual in using sound samples from recordings of other works, fragments of radio broadcast, popular music, tin cans and tom toms.
The instrumentation for the original performance included four performers: a pianist; two percussionists playing muted gongs, tin cans, electric buzzer and tom-toms; and a fourth performer operating a radio and a phonograph. For the phonograph, Cage suggests using something « classic » such as Dvořák, Beethoven, Sibelius or Shostakovich; and for the radio, to use any station but avoid news programs in the case of a « national emergency ». Jean Erdman recalls that for the first performance a ‘tack-piano’ was used—one of Cage’s prepared pianos, though the pianist is also called upon to play the soundbox of the instrument as a percussionist.
Four tutti “Facades” are separated by three “Progressions.” The Facades feature the use of polyrhythms that create a dense and, especially when the phonograph or radio is sounding, cacophonous sonic landscape. The First Progression, a cowboy song (and the first of two extended piano solos), was a solo for Cunningham. The Second Progression, a solo for Erdman, uses an “Indian” tom-tom rhythm as its background. The Third Progression, a duet for the dancers, is set to an extended “boogie-woogie” piano solo. The work ends in the same manner in which it begins – a solo for the phonograph/radio player.
Looking at Credo in Us though the lens of history, we are able to view Credo as a sort of microcosm of Cage’s output. Many typical Cagean aspects are found in this work: the use of piano and percussion (both standard and found instruments) to accompany a dance; the use of radio and electronic sounds (foreshadowing many later works, including Radio Music and Imaginary Landscape No. 4); and the inclusion of random events (whatever happens to be playing on the radio) are all representative of the Cage aesthetic.
creation : 1937 music and conception : John Cage musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 10 mn publisher : Peters Editions
In the year of the creation of First Construction in metal, the American composer John CAGE, inventor of the prepared piano, declared: Percussion music is a revolution. Sound and rhythm have for too long been subjected to the restrictions of the music of the XIXth century and, today, we must fight for its emancipation. Tomorrow, with our ears full of electronic music, we will hear freedom … At the present stage of the revolution, a healthy anarchy is justified. Necessarily, the experiment must be continued by banging on anything, by banging, hammering, by producing sounds in every possible way. In short, we must explore the materials of music. What we cannot do ourselves must be done by machines » ….
We are therefore entitled to think that « First Construction in metal », the work of a musician aged twenty-five, written exclusively for metal percussion instruments (gamelans, steel sheets, drums made of car brakes, etc …) represents one of the first stages in this liberation of sound, in this wish to abandon any distinction between musical sound and noise, to consider silence as a musical element and randomness as the very basis of life.
This work was premiered at the Studio Theater in New York City. It is the last of a series of plays written between 1934 and 1944 (First Construction in Metal, Double Music, Amores…). It consists of two parts: a quartet of toms, a voice duet and a ready-made piano.
Third Construction was composed in 1941 and dedicated to Xenia Kashevaroff-Cage, to whom Cage was married at the time and who played in his percussion orchestra. Third Construction is scored for four percussionists. The rhythmic structure of this work is 24 times 24 measures. In each part, the phrase structure follows a different proportion series, each being a rotation of the other, i.e. player 4: [8, 2, 4, 5, 3, 2], player 1: [2, 8, 2, 4, 5, 3], player 3: [3, 2, 8, 2, 4, 5] and player 2: [5, 3, 2, 8, 2, 4]. The instruments used are rattles, drums, tin cans, claves, cowbells, lion’s roar, cymbal, ratchet, teponaxtle, quijades, cricket caller, and conch shell.
Composition in 4 parts for percussion quartet. - Parts 1 and 3 are by J. Cage; parts 2 and 4 are by L. Harrison.
Double Music (1941), for four percussionists, was composed jointly by John Cage and Lou Harrison, each writing two of the four parts. The work’s rhythmic resources are narrow, consisting entirely of eighth notes grouped in twos and threes within a steady eighth-note pulse. The superimposition of two or three rhythmically active parts creates a kaleidoscope of minute shifts in accent, while the timbres of various instruments (water-buffalo bells, muted gongs, sleigh bells) lend the work the jangling, joyous air of a town celebration.
Creation : 26 november 2005 Music and conception : Edmund Campion Number of musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 15' Publisher : Billaudot
Ondoyants et Divers is a piece concerned with total cooperation, a practice that can lead, on one hand, toward militarism, and on the other hand, toward a balanced, healthy community. The piece calls for five non-pitched percussion instruments per musician: one skin, one wood, one metal, one pitched metal, and one auxiliary. The music depends collectively on the six musicians at all times. To remove one part is to destroy the whole. Ondoyants et Divers depends on space and physical placement of the musicians. The composite sound of the six musicians creates an invisible 7th player, a musical part which dances above and between the six musicians. The focus is on the players and not the timbres, it is a concerto for six.
The words of the title originate with one of the essays (27/book I) of the French writer Montaigne « on friendship. » Before I discovered the origin, I heard the phrase Ondoyants et Divers used in several different places and under different circumstances. I heard a scientist describe the universe as Ondoyants et Divers. I heard a sociologist describe human behavior as Ondoyants et Divers. All of this has nothing whatsoever to do with how Montaigne himself used the words in his essay, nor the subject of the essay itself. The words of Montaigne have catapulted away from his essay and have taken on a life beyond their original intent. I have used these words as a title for a piece of music because they are evocative of my musical goals, not as a reference or homage to Montaigne .
The piece was commissioned by the Percussion de Strasbourg and was funded by a Commande d’Etat from the French Ministry of Culture.
Premiere: 16 September 2000, France, Royaumont Abbey, Voix Nouvelles festival Choreographic and musical show for 5 singers, 4 percussionists and 3 dancers Duration: 43′ Command of the Royaumont Foundation
Creation : 06 February 2015 at Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, FR Commissioned by the French state for les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: 6 percussionnists Duration : 18′ Edition : Edizioni Suvini Zerboni – Milano
« Ossido » is written for and dedicated to the musicians of Percussions de Strasbourg. The word “Ossido“ (oxyde in Italian) evokes the metal, the 6 percussionists play in fact exclusively metal instruments (except a surprise!). The choice of reducing the instruments only to metals has been done for several reasons. The sound world of percussion is virtually infinite, the diversity of forms, materials is very wide. It was necessary to establish a limitation.
The metals fascinate me because they can be tuned, they can have long and unharmonius resonances. I am surprised by the accumulations of these unharmonius resonances that occur when instruments tuned to the same pitches are beaten and left resonate. « Ossido » is focused on a E proposed on several octaves by different instruments: bells suspended on water containers in which they are immersed, thai gongs and bronze plates, tubes of aluminum tuned microtonally.
The metals fascinate me because they point to other sound worlds: again the cow bells (mountains and Mahler!), the sounds of the foundries.
The metals fascinate me because they are part of popular music: steel drums from metal cans; pots,”sartenes”, and spoons, “cucharas”, of the Cuban popular music.
The sound world of « Ossido » comes from two specific ideas: on one hand the rejection of spazialisation, the dislocation of the instruments in space; on the other hand the distortion, the buzz, the rattle created by small metal elements (triangle stick, 5 euro cent coins) laid on the beaten instruments. Even the shape of « Ossido » responds to this need for compactness: a single long mouvement, although structured in different islands of speed, wants to articulate the infinite qualities of sound of these mysterious hums.
Creation : 09 october 2019 at Hangar Bicocca, Festival Milano Musica Musicians : 6 percussionists The composer has received a grant for the writing of an original musical piece from the French Ministry of Culture Duration : 25′
Kore is a piece of 6 percussionists using smart-instruments scattered around the audience. It takes its inspiration from the Xenakis’ masterpiece Persephassa and aims to extend the possibilities found by Carmine-Emanuele Cella when he created Inside out, performed by Les Percussions de Strasbourg at IRCAM in 2017. In Persephassa, the musicians use a large range of instruments and sound effects during the piece, among which wood blocks called simantras, that were conceived on purpose for this piece. In Inside out, many changes of paradigms have been made in the continuation with Xenakis’ research. With the help of new electronic devices used on large size instruments, Carmine-Emanuele Cella managed to create a new global and physical instrument around the audience, played collectively by all the musicians. These devices still had a primitive form then, but they presented an extreme potential in terms of conception of the timbre and interaction man-instrument. The piece was a big success. With Kore, Carmine-Emanuele Cella develops ce process. The percussions should be big enough to make the system efficient (such as timbals, bass drum, tam-tam, etc.) and the percussionists should be displayed around the audience, in the spirit of Xenakis’s Persephassa. In addition, again inspired by Xenakis, Kore deploys 6 new instruments called Xulon based on the technology developed for Inside out. The main characteristics of Xulon are that they can completely transform the sound and the interaction of the musician depending on the gesture. This process creates augmented instruments that can fully integrate the listening space, merging the immersiveness of the global electronics with the location of the source and creating a new paradigm for listening to the electronic sound.
Creation : 08 April 2008 at Arsenal de Metz Musique et conception : Raphaël Cendo On stage : 6 percussionnists and electronic Duration : 10' Edition : Billaudot
Program Note Refontes – Raphaël Cendo
Essentially based on metallic sounds, Refontes (“Recastings”) continuously develops a mate¬rial, dense and saturated. The primary rhythms governing the principal axes of the form gradually diminish, giving way to colliding masses of different sonorities in which a complex sonorous volume surges, in close relation to the electronic processing. In effect, rhythm is here envisaged as an ultimate consequence of the developments of saturated sounds invading the sonorous space. The primary task of composition consisted in discovering solutions for timbral fusion between the different percussion instruments, and in defining the complex electronic sonorities that exist in permanent relation to the instruments. Gestures and dynamics—closely linked in this score—proceed by conjunct movement to the interior of a musical discourse that never ceases intensifying. Refontes attempts to affirm a form of direct composition in which the instrumental gesture and its physical implication become the principal parameters of musical execution. Refontes is dedicated to Les Percussions de Strasbourg.
Composed in 1942 Duration: c. 12 minutes Orchestration: Percussion I (Indian drum, glockenspiel, small Indian drum); Percussion II (side drum, xylophone, Indian drum, tenor drum); Percussion III (side drum, suspended cymbal); Percussion IV (tenor drum, chimes, claves, one maraca, suspended cymbal); Percussion V (timpani, small gong); Percussion VI (bass drum, large gong)
In the 1930s, avant-garde composer John Cage approached Chávez and asked him to compose a piece for the percussion ensemble with which Cage was touring the West Coast. Chávez obliged, composing the Toccata that we hear tonight. Unfortunately, Cage’s ensemble found themselves unable to play the opening section, which calls for long, sustained drum rolls by all players, and therefore never performed the piece. It was not until 1948 that the Toccata received its premiere, with members of the Orquesta Sinfónica de México (of which Chávez was founding director) as soloists. Since then, the piece has become a staple of the percussion repertoire, regularly performed on collegiate percussion ensemble programs (with the roll section intact).
Traditionally, a toccata (derived from the Italian word tocarre, or “to touch”) was a virtuoso piece for a keyboard or plucked instrument, designed to showcase the player’s facility. Instead of fast-moving melodic passages, Chávez’s Toccata utilizes advanced rhythmic interplay and extended techniques on multiple drums and gongs. The first and last of the Toccata’s three movements follow a sonata form in which Chávez explores the sound potential of the battery, writing long, layered rolls, interlocking syncopated patterns, and a section in which the players are instructed to cover the drum heads with a cloth or chamois (denoted coperto or “covered”). The slow inner movement – scored for non-pitched metallic instruments, plus glockenspiel and xylophone – is rhythmically simple, featuring small broken intervals on the two melodic instruments. In Chávez’s own words, the Toccata “was written as an experiment in orthodox percussion instruments,” and makes for an enduring example of melodic, thematic writing for a seemingly non-pitched instrumental family.
Creation: 25 June 1999 at Villa Medicis, Roma, Italia Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 12' Edition: Billaudot
Die Runde Zahl - the round number - refers to the particular arrangement with which the piece was conceived from the outset: the musicians arranged in six equidistant points around the audience, forming an imaginary circle. The space is therefore master of the game, and the practicable possibilities that emerge from it are almost infinite. The composition of the piece is totally based on the calculation of a limited number of combinations - fixed space - and trajectories - temporal space - between these six points. The composition of this piece would have been much more difficult without the working encounters we had with the musicians: speculation requires, at some point, being confronted with the real possibilities of executable writing. The last conclusion is paradoxical: the constraints necessarily disappear when space becomes matter, writing and listening forms.
creation : 08.09.2007, Abbaye de Royaumont (France) musicians : 6 percussionists dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg
The piece is inspired by different African and Asian rituals. Each percussionist has two groups of percussion instruments: a set of 5 skins and a set of metallophones or a keyboard. The beginning of the piece develops around metallic and resonant sounds. Gradually, these tones will transform into a predominantly "wood" sound with the wood-blocks and then the marimba. At the end of Recitation, the sound evolves towards the skins. This "interpolation" will also provoke a loss of the feeling of pitch, and the harmonic world of the beginning will progressively dilute into the world of rhythm at the end. This score is dedicated to the Percussions de Strasbourg.
creation : 30.03.2016, MSH Paris Nord - Université Paris 8 (France) duration : 13' musicians : 6 percussionists
Over there, here
This piece offers the musical version of a letter. The one Hans addresses to Sophie, freely inspired by the literary work Petits Fantômes Mélancoliques: Contes autistes by Quebec author Louise Bombardier. Hans does the "dysfunctional" and waits "here, in his country" while Sophie "who never bends" lives in the windowsills. Miles away, they both watch the rain falling outside, whose strange musicality makes their imaginations wander. The work explores the rhythmic and timbral correspondences between the whispered voice, the percussion playing and the electroacoustic part. It seeks to highlight areas of ambiguity between real and virtual sources. The instrumental play is articulated between wandering and systematism, as an illustration respectively of the dreams and obsessive troubles of the two characters. The real-time treatment poses itself as a metaphor for the autistic's perceptive extension, that is, those things that exist, that they perceive, but that we are unable to see. Finally, the voice is treated as a wind and percussion instrument: snippets of phrases are used to create games with the formants, and mouth noises generate a kind of human beatbox that counteracts the percussion.
creation : 11.12.1941 at Teatro delle Arti, Rome (Italy) duration : 25'
Titles of the parts – Preghiera di Maria Stuarda – Invocazione di Boezio – Congedo di Girolamo Savonarola
Luigi Dallapiccola, speaking about the genesis of these three parts of the Canti di Prigionia (Songs of Captivity, 1938-1941) explained: "The dodecaphonic system fascinated me, but I knew so little about it! Nevertheless, I established a series of twelve sounds at the bass of the entire work and added a fragment of the old church song "Dies Irae, dies illa" as a symbol of counterpoint.
The twelve-tone series (which is not the only one in the work) is used with great freedom and generates a certain type of harmony in which the diminished fifth predominates. Written for mixed choir and a small instrumental ensemble comprising two harps, two pianos and percussion, the work occupies a special position in terms of its language: diatonism (from "Dies Irae" in particular) and dodecaphonism coexist, two radically different universes are confronted in an exceptional aesthetic situation which will nevertheless still be worth several successes at Dallapiccola in the 1940s. The counterpoint here, like other parameters, progresses towards a certain complexity and often contains new elements of language: the central part of Jerome Savonarola's Farewell, for example, is made up of canons on three "levels", one of which (the one concerning the instruments) returns, so to speak, to itself in retrograde movement. The songs of captivity constitute one of Dallapiccola's most developed works, which later took up similar themes of inspiration in Il Prigioniero and in the Canti di Liberazione. Pierre Michel.
Canti di Prigionia Chants de Captivité – Preghiera di Maria Stuarda O Domine Deus ! Speravi in Te O care mi Jesu ! Nunc libera me. In dura catena, in misera poena, desidero Te. Languendo, gemendo, et genu flectendo, Adoro, imploro, ut liberes me. - Prayer of Mary Stuart O Lord God! I have put my hope in You. O my dear Jesus! Today set me free. In my hard chains, in the misfortune of my sorrow, I desire You. Pining, groaning and bending my knee, I beg and implore:
– Invocazione di Boezio Felix qui potuit boni fontem visere lucidum Felix qui potuit gravis Terrae solvere vincula. – Invocation of Boëce Blessed is he who has been able to do good See the light source, Blessed is he who has been able to free himself from the weight of the Earth.
– Congedo di Girolamo Savonarola Premat mundus, insurgant hostes, nihil timeo, Quoniam in Te Domine speravi, Quoniam Tu es spes mea, Quoniam Tu altissimum posuisti refugium tuum. –The farewell of Jérôme Savonarole May the universe crush me, may the enemies rise up against me, I fear nothing, Since it is in You, Lord, that I have placed my hope, Since thou art my hope, since thou hast set the refuge that thou hast opened for me so high…
creation : 17.01.2002 – Hall des Chars, Strasbourg (France) commission : Les Percussions de Strasbourg musicians: 6 percussionists duration : 15′ publishing : Chelter Music LTD
Ritual music for six percussionists.
Which ritual is it? I couldn't say… By the title, one could refer to Balinese music and to the mutliplicity of nuances that the term Ritual takes on in such a context: at once spiritual, festive and theatrical… Gamelan evokes to my ears an almost exclusive colour of metal. Thus my choice was made from the outset to use almost exclusively metal instruments, and to dig musically into the constraint of monochrome. But here the monochrome is sculpted by four different temporalities, possible from the inside of this unique bronze colour.
Other exotic references point to the horizon: polyrhythm… isochromy… and the intrusion of unusual instruments further blurs the lines…
Three percussionists each have a small table as their only instrument. The variety of tones is ensured by the different striking modes. The positions of the fingers and hands and the rhythmic figures are codified in a repertoire of original symbols used in the score.
"(…) My early pieces played rhythm in figures, each figure having a particular quality of movement, a kind of motor state of the body, or a dance step. This is particularly clear in Musique de Tables, written in 1987, which is a piece for percussion as much as a short choreography of hands. It is constructed as a baroque suite, with an overture, rondo, fugato, galop, recapitulation and coda. The whole rhythmic counterpoint uses a limited number of figures that are described precisely, but metaphorically as well, to the performers: both musicians/dancers [...] in this piece, I was already using, more or less wildly, the notion of "rhythmic imprint" : I would replace the silences in a given figure with beats and vice versa, to create complementary rhythms that each hinted at the other. (…) »
(Thierry De Mey about Table Music in an interview conducted by Jean-Luc Plouvier, 2001) Source: Charleroi danse.
The challenge of "Music of tables" is to approach the sensitive line between music and the gestures that produce sound, to put your finger on the line of demarcation between dance and music: the visual and choreographic aspect in perfect balance of importance with the sound and the musicality of the interpretation.
In this piece for solo conductor, Thierry De Mey pursues his research on movement at the heart of the musical "fact"…
The conductor turns towards the audience, takes the beat of his heart as his pulse and starts to play increasingly complex polyrhythms: …3 out of 5, 5 out of 8, … Approaching the golden proportion, he traces the contours of a silent, unspeakable music…
Silence must be is the anagram of the Ictus ensemble, with which the composer regularly collaborated.
Composition & concept : Thierry De Mey Musicians: Flora Duverger, Alexandre Esperet, Minh-Tâm Nguyen, François Papirer, Enrico Pedicone, Rémi Schwartz, Thibaut Weber, Hsin-Hsuan Wu Assistant to musical creation: François Deppe Gestural coach: Manuela Rastadi Detailed pieces:Affordance, Pièce de gestes, Timelessness*, Floor patterns, Hands**, Frisking, Pièce de gestes,Musique de tables, Silence must be ! *New piece **Concept & choreography : Wim Vandekeybus / Concept & music : Thierry De Mey
Total Duration : 1h30 Production & Commission : Les Percussions de Strasbourg / Coproduction : Festival Musica The composer has received a grant for the writing of an original musical piece from the French Ministry of Culture With the support of Francis et Mica Salabert Foundation and the Aquatique Show Foundation.World Premiere : 29 .09..2019 @ Festival Musica
With Timelessness, Thierry De Mey has created a sort of self-portrait, combining old and new pieces in the same show. It is a project that took shape over time, which he describes as an «artistic and political manifesto». His angle as a composer centres on the body in musical practice, as illustrated by his masterpiece, Musique de tables (1987).
creation : 10.02.1988, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Orchestre de Rennes, direction Claude Schnitzler. France, Rennes, Maison de la culture commission : City of Rennes for the Percussions of Strasbourg musicians: 6 percussionists duration: 20' publishing : Suvini Zerboni
creation : 04/10/1995 au Festival Musica (Strasbourg, France) duration : 14′ publishing : Billaudot
The title explains the idea of composition: the birth of sound, the search for pitches and rhythmic cells, elementary at the beginning, which become more and more complicated. Simultaneously with the development and deformation of rhythmic structures, the sound space is enlarged by the introduction of new timbres and changes of pitch. Metal percussion (campania, rattlesnakes, cowbells) appears for the first time in the central part and gradually replaces skin percussion. In the last section, the structures of two instrumental groups are synthesised by crossings of colours and rhythms.
Creation : 18.09.1984 – Festival Musica in Strasbourg. Music and conception : Franco Donatoni Number of musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 10 mn Publisher : Ricordi/Salabert
Darkness was written in 1984 and is dedicated to the Percussions de Strasbourg.
« The number of instruments used is relatively limited; frequently used, they are the ones which offer the greatest interest from the point of view of the rhythmic articulation. Each of the five sections is marked by the use of instruments with a homogeneous timbre which gradually give way to the new instruments: they creep in progressively, and their timbre will dominate in the next section. To the homogenous timbre of each section corresponds the monoform structure of the articulation: the continuum, phonically sparkling, exposes gesturally static passages, even if the overall pattern is none other than a crescendo. »
Autres contacts were composed for Les Percussions de Strasbourg and the African griot Adama Dramé.
This meeting is a challenge: to combine two musical practices that are as foreign as the cultures from which they originate. On the one hand the oral tradition (music is transmitted by ear, imitation and improvisation play a predominant role), on the other hand the contemporary expression of the "learned" Western tradition (music is written, the work is signed by a composer).
The aim is not to achieve a fusion but a conversation within a cohabitation, with the surprises, disagreements, arguments and agreements that this entails.
The title alludes to the desire to meet cultures other than one's own, but also to the search for other forms of contact with the instruments one plays.
"While the melodies or harmonies inherent in one culture sometimes have difficulty blending with other musical cultures without losing some of their essence, rhythm, on the other hand, or the division of time into equal or unequal spaces, allows for many encounters.
Rhythm and percussion being first cousins, the idea of making African culture and contemporary European culture converse through percussion seems relevant!
And when it comes to musicians like Adama Dramé and Les Percussions de Strasbourg, all hopes are high! For they have in common not only the drum and the infinite network of rhythms, but also the high variety of sounds and, an invaluable quality, enthusiasm. Because on these elements the projected work would like to build on in order to try to achieve the happiness of playing and communicating to the listeners. On the instrumental level, the lesson of the Djembe will be learnt: to obtain from a single instrument a maximum of sounds through the variety of techniques. So very concentrated material for the group, and virtuosity in the changes of attack. As for the Music, the aim will not be to achieve a fusion, but a conversation within the cohabitation, with the surprises, disagreements, arguments and, hopefully, the chords that this entails".
creation : Percussion Festival of Taipei, 1996 (Taïwan) commission : Les Percussions de Strasbourg musicians : 6 percussionists, without instruments, with voice duration : 4’
It was on the occasion of the Percussion Festival in Taipei, and after having given a recital, that the percussionists friendly expressed to Jean-Pierre Drouet their wish for a piece to be performed at the end of the performance. Following this, Jean-Pierre Drouet composed Bis, a short piece intended for the Percussions de Strasbourg, involving the percussionists with their bodies and voices as their only instruments, taking turns performing gestures and onomatopoeia. The idea was to make a radical break with what the audience usually hears during their concerts. Since then, this piece has been performed many times, and even today the percussionists still choose to perform it when the atmosphere seems favourable and the show allows it.
creation : Strasbourg, 9 décembre 1988, pedagogical version with the participation of the C.F.M.I. and the French Ministry of Education. commission : Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, 1985 musicians: 6 percussionists and child duration : approx. 25' dedicated to : Percussions de Strasbourg
This piece was written for Les Percussions de Strasbourg and a group of children.
The excerpt presented in the school concerts shows a use of toms (western instrument - cylindrical wooden barrel on which plastic skins are stretched). This use is largely influenced by African or indus modes of playing (hitting the barrel, changing the pitch of the sound by hand pressure on the skin, etc.).
"To have dozens of children participate in the same music, more, less, or not at all, to familiarise them with the musical performance and the most virtuoso percussion group in the world. Not to give up this notion of virtuosity, to offer the children things that are feasible and yet with complex results, all the while trying to produce something that will interest my friends in Strasbourg, children everywhere and, I hope, passive listeners!
For the children, I thought it would be clearer to respect the three great groups of percussion: skin, wood, metal. So we have three sections each devoted to one of these families, separated by small recesses where the six percussionists indulge in individual amusements. Within the sections, on the other hand, the rigour is extreme: virtuosity is highlighted by its synchronisation, the rhythmic unison. In the wood, we have three groups of two synchronised musicians, in the metal, two groups of three and in the skin, the six musicians find themselves welded together on complex rhythmic formulas. The children's play is based on paying great attention to what the percussion group is playing, from where the signals for their interventions come from. These are sometimes forms of activity where listening sensitivity and care in the treatment of the instruments used are the essential discipline or, sometimes, rhythmic formulas based on counts between 1 and 10, whose mixture can give a sufficiently rich effect.
Attentive listening, sensitivity and precision will give children the opportunity to respond "head high" to the proposals of their virtuoso elders! »
Commissioned by the French state and les Percussions de Strasbourg. Coproduction : Percussions de Strasbourg / Musica, with the support of ADAMI. Lights creation : Enrico Bagnoli. Coproduction : Percussions de Strasbourg / Philharmonie du Luxembourg. World Première : 25.09.2014, Festival Musica, Strasbourg, FR World Première of lights creation : 27.11.2014, Festival Rainy Days / Philharmonie du Luxembourg, LUX Team : 6 percussionists Edition : Lemoine
Written to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the percussion ensemble Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Burning Bright borrows its title from William Blake’s famous poem The Tyger, published in 1794.
This incandescent poem celebrates the collision of opposites which gives the truest representation of the world and is the source of all creative power. The age-old conflict between “innocence” and “experience”, those “two contrary states of the human soul”, courses through all of Blake’s work, lending his poetry both its tragic aspect and its visionary tone. A non-conformist freethinker who was vehemently opposed to all forms of moral, theological or political oppression, Blake supported the French Revolution and denounced the enslavement of African-Americans. Despite his worldly engagements, he did not abandon his mystic quest, which – in the tradition of Dante and Milton – he considered the only feasible way of articulating the splendour of one’s inner illuminations. The wild and eruptive fury of his visions inspires fear and terror. Yet, from the abyss of misery, mankind can perceive the rise of a burning light, which indicates, without any promise, a possible alternative to the savage rule of force.
Composed as one single piece, like an immense adagio in the manner of Bruckner, Burning Bright’s poetic vision breaks with the traditional techniques of demarcation, with all its contours and closures. The music rises in layers, or unfolds in abundant and meandering surges. The varying depths of the timbres, fading towards an indeterminate horizon, create their own resonant space. Sounds – swelling, diffusing, writhing – blend like fluids or gases. Working on timbre is but the art of retouching. The drift of coloured masses replaces the interplay of formal arrangements beloved of the last century. Friction takes over from customary percussion techniques.
Following Blake’s example, Burning Bright rallies elementary energies: a drama with neither narrative nor anecdote, its unity emerges through telluric rumblings. Not unlike the films of Stanley Kubrick, it uncovers a vast space, which could well become, despite the hopes of our times, a space of eternal confinement.
Creation : 02.04.1977 at the Royan Festival, conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli Music and conception : Hugues Dufourt Number of musicians : 6 percussionists with conductor Duration : 70' Publisher : Henry Lemoine
With Erewhon, Hugues Dufourt embarked upon a potent new dynamic form of expression, veering in a new stylistic and conceptual direction, dramatically changing the treatment of musical parameters – i.e. temporality, space, form, energy and density. His explorations led to the discovery and integration of the percussion section of instruments (Erewhon), followed by electronic stringed and bass wind instruments (Saturne) and finally a full symphony orchestra (Surgir). Erewhon’s four movements encompass sound-noise concepts, examining acoustic volumes and their scope for permutation. With a fresh approach to composition that is resolutely avant-garde, the composer besets formalism with jolts and fractures, creating explosive patches of contrast, areas of intuitive or formal turbulence with outlying dynamic fringes, producing instinctive, genetic or refractory reactions (via harmonics and non-harmonics), zones of emergence, resurgence and persistence with twisted, stretched and compressed outlines and layers of conflicting temporality and tectonics joins. His craftsmanship involves combining traditionally Western assets (a player’s routine gestures and traditional playing styles) with a determined drive for musical emancipation.
The cycle which originally comprised five movements was created at Royan’s 14th International Festival of Contemporary Arts (during the Hugues Dufourt Sessions for the « Perspectives du XX siècle ») on April 1977 at the Théâtre du Casino Municipal. The Percussions de Strasbourg featured Jean Batigne, Gabriel Bouchet, Claude Ricou, Georges Van Gucht, Jean-Pierre Petermann and Olivier Dejours. The sextet was conducted by Giuseppe Sinopli.
Erewhon received great critical acclaim at its first public performance, and was performed by the same ensemble at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1977, the Strasbourg Festival in 1978, the Venice Biennial Festival in 1979 and again at the Musiques Nouvelles Festival in Lyon in 1980.
creation : 25.09.1990, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris , par Thierry Miroglio : percussion, Claude Pavy : guitar. duration : 7' musicians: 1 electric guitar, 1 percussionist publishing : Salabert, Paris, nº EAS 18944 dédicaced to : Rolf Liebermann on his eightieth birthday
creation : 15.08.1990, Festival Musica Nova, São Paulo, Brésil, by Thierry Miroglio : percussion musicians : 1 percussionist publishing : Salabert dedicaced to Thierry Miroglio
More than that: to go beyond, to force the Columns of Hercules.
Disregarding the professions of humility and impotence that encumber centuries of ancient wisdom, Bacon takes the side of the foolish. Extending the limits of human empire, affirming the creative efficiency of technology, changing the world order rather than making virtue out of necessity, this is the motto of a Modern. In these disenchanted times, the work exalts the spirit of inventions, the wandering of research. Is the sound discovery a secret stolen from Nature or the fruit of a happy foreboding, of a subtle disposition of mind? Beyond the inventory of unusual sonorities, I wanted, in writing for percussion, to bring out the Promethean gesture of the percussionist, who is attached to dance and statuary.
This piece was originally part of the Erewhon series, created by the Strasbourg Percussions at the Royan Festival in 1977, under the direction of Giuseppe Sinopoli. Hugues Dufourt cut it off from the cycle because it did not fit in with the other parts of the work, which already formed a complete set. Now independent, the old « Erewhon III » will be called « Sombre Journée ». It is an attempt of instrumental poetics, with reduced means: skins and metals mainly. « Sombre Journée » is the middle between the concept of sounds-noises inherited from Edgar Varese and the hybridization of the musical obtained through the use of electro-acoustic and computer techniques. « Sombre Journée » plays on the deforming mirroring of flows, densities and acoustic volumes.
creation : 12.11.2015 at Théâtre de Hautepierre à Strasbourg, FR cinema screening with live music, based on the film by Robert Florey, 9413 / The Life and Death of a Hollywood Extra, 1927 for 6 percussions and real time electronics state command of Percussions de Strasbourg to Javier Elipe duration : 13'
9413: The Life and Death of a Hollywood Extra, is an experimental film, with a very critical and sarcastic vision of Hollywood, it tells the story of an actor who arrives in Hollywood to fulfil his dream, only to find himself faced with the cruelty of the industrial production system of Hollywood cinema.
The tension consists of a relationship between the dream of Hollywood glory and reality. The sound textures of the "dream" part will have a more continuous and regular evolution, and those of the "reality" part will behave according to a more abrupt and discontinuous evolution. The film develops along a characteristic line: from dream or hope, which little by little will turn to reality (the failure of the dream - or the fall). This will also be seen in the images, where the shiny and splendid buildings of Hollywood are gradually transformed, until they become a kind of jungle. From the point of view of sound representation, it will first be necessary to focus on certain visual elements such as the composition of the shots, the materials, light and shadow, visual rhythm, etc. And secondly, on elements such as the creation of sound atmospheres, in order to introduce the spectator to the strange and surreal world of the film.
creation : 12.11.2015 at Théâtre de Hautepierre à Strasbourg, FR cinema screening with live music, based on René Clair's film, Entr'acte, 1924 for 6 percussions and real time electronics state command of Percussions de Strasbourg to Javier Elipe duration : 20'
Entr'acte, a Dadaist, pre-surrealist short film, structured by a series of different cinematic tableaux (without apparent connection), describes a series of absurd situations, musically structured by sound tableaux. With original music by Erik Satie, this new musical adaptation presents itself as a new, more up-to-date look, which will reinterpret the problems of the 1920s, adapted to our thinking today. Thanks to new technologies and the possibilities offered by digital tools, we can today simulate the editing techniques and special effects used in film, in order to create new relationships between music and film.
The score will take advantage of the creative power of the film, by musically reinterpreting the clash of opposites or visual dissonances present in the film.
The play of convergences and divergences between the musical and visual planes can be summed up as a game of extremes: the relationship between the association of cinematic figures on the one hand, and the transgression of this correspondence on the other. This "sound dissonance", both in terms of timbre and narrative, will have its equivalent in the non-conformist and provocative style of the film, allowing a new, more daring and open imagination.
Aided by the multiple possibilities offered by percussion instruments, the different sound tableaux will explore the different types of interactions as well as the play of coincidences, resonances, attacks… The use of electronics will allow to widen the range of percussion timbres, but also to enrich and transform these timbres, playing at the same time with the surrealist and delirious poetics present in the film.
creation : 04.04.2007, Festival Banlieues Bleues, Gonesse (France) composition,conception : Andy Emler musicians : 6 percussionists + MegaOctet by Andy Emler (piano, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, cornet, flugelhorn, voice, tuba, double bass, drums, marimba and percussion) duration : 80'
The MegaOctet and Les Percussions de Strasbourg are two entities aiming at transversality in terms of writing and they question, each in their own way, the contemporary musical language. Andy Emler had the opportunity to meet the Percussions at the Festival Musica de Strasbourg, when he was presenting works written for the Ars Nova ensemble.
A mutual desire to work together was born, an opportunity had to be found. Andy Emler's residencies at L'apostrophe, scène nationale de Cergy-Pontoise and that of the Percussions de Strasbourg at Royaumont Abbey, two venues for art and culture in the Val d'Oise, made this possible. Finally.
The Banlieues Bleues festival and the city of Gonesse offer them the opportunity to create an ambitious musical work, commensurate with these two outstanding ensembles, which will be performed at L'apostrophe. And elsewhere.
Original scores by Andy Emler, whose refined and jubilant art is known to shake up aesthetics, and a piece of "quotations" in homage to Frank Zappa will be the backbone of this creation where the flying soloists of the MegaOctet will meet the alchemists of timbres that are the instrumentalists of the Percussions.
A rare and astonishing encounter of today's music, placed under the sign of artistic demands and the pleasure of playing and giving. To make people hear that emotion is as much a matter of reflection as of sensitivity.
Jazz pianist, Andy Emler likes nothing more than original collaborations: during the residence of his MegaOctet at the Abbaye de Royaumont, he set up polycultural projects with Indian, Malian, Amazigh musicians… A concert with the Percussions de Strasbourg could not but pique his inspiration: the result is more than an hour and a half of music where MegaOctet and Percussions de Strasbourg pass the quid. On the occasion of the ensemble's fiftieth anniversary, Emler extended the original programme by one number: Obsisens only requires the six percussionists and can be played separately.
Written for keyboards ( three marimbas , xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspiel ) , the piece presents the Percussions de Strasbourg as a true Big Band , far from the contemporary world , but no less demanding musically and rhythmically . The opportunity for the musicians to mix groove of the modern jazz and contemporary music as well as improvisation – they improvise random agreements series on tanks notes, source of many surprises in the moment. For his part, Andy Emler has allowed some experiences – hybrids of jazz rhythmic one hand and on the other , of a writing made of enriched textures, bitonality , series , although rare in jazz.
Joint work for percussions and electro live, 50 ' Commissioned by Percussions de Strasbourg and GMEM Composition and music production:eRikm Artistic team: 4 percussionists and eRikm (electronic) Video system (camera in network): Stéphane Cousot Production : Percussions de Strasbourg Coproduction : Co opérative, GMEM, Musica, Cité musicale - Metz. With the support of CNC / DICREAM.
CD (release 03.30.18) & Double-LP (release 06.22.18) availablehere Percussions de Strasbourg 2018 / Outhere & Believe Digital
Drum-Machines is a premeditation on the exchange between two musical areas of the XXIst century : contemporary and electronic musics.
This is a dynamic composition where the process creates form. Speed, pulse, timbre and instruments are subject to numerous distortions by real or virtual machines.
Sound and instrumental materials recorded or (re-) interpreted reflect as much the memory as the imagination of musicians, they are the result of the gesture embodied by each one, that is renewed and transformed in contact with the machine.
On stage, a collective instrumental device is in the center of the stage: it represents the agora, the point of impact and meeting, the eye of the maelstrom to which each musician brings his energy. A video device reveals on a big screen the invisible details of this timeless domestication between man and his tools.
Création : 18.12.1998, Radio France, Paris Durée : 60' – Corinne Sertillanges, Sylvie Sulle, Michael Bennett, Arnaud Marzorati, Daniel Mesguich, ensemble Musicatreize, Percussions de Strasbourg, Instrumental Ensemble of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, direction Dominique My. France, Paris, Maison de Radio France.
Oratorio for four soloists, reciter, mixed choir and instrumental ensemble, set to music by Ahmed Essyad in 1998.
Libretto by Boris Gamaleya, based on his theatrical work, Le Volcan à l'enversou Madame Desbassyns, le Diable et le Bondieu.
creation : 18.09.1984, Festival Musica (Strasbourg, France) musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 40′ publishing : Salabert
The new acoustics highlight how close the low-frequency rhythm is to the high-frequency sound, as if the latter were part of the harmonics, while the former would be the fundamental. Eolo'oonlin is an adventure in time that excludes rhythmic formulas and harmonic divisions of duration to allow for a continuous design: the rhythm is then represented in the form of curves, in which the low-frequency is constantly transformed, as if it were an underground melody, in a space of duration that obeys the speed of change. As far as the performance is concerned, the instruments in this work are generally portable, to allow movement around the periphery and radii of a pentagon: the audience can be placed inside or outside this stage. Eolo'oonlin was designed for the interpretative qualities of the Percussions de Strasbourg.
commission : Mécénat Musical de la Société Générale avec le Choeur de Chambre « Les Eléments » (direction Joël Suhubiette) creation : 23.11.2007, Odyssud, Blagnac (France) composition, conception : Ivan Fedele musicians : 6 percussionists + 24 singers + chef duration : 12' publishing : Suvini Zerboni Milan
In Milan, where he now teaches, Ivan Fedele (born in 1953) studied music and philosophy in parallel. A world premiere, his Stabat Mater, unsurprisingly, uses a moaning and plaintive song that ends with exclusively female voices accompanied by a gong. Throughout the piece, the percussion will be muffled (timpani, bass drum, marimba), brightened up by a few metallic accents (tubular bells).
creation : 07.12.2006 – Stuttgart commission : Fondation Royaumont musicians: 3 or 6 percussionists duration: 11′ publishing: Edizioni Musicali Rai Trade
The work Commissioned by the Royaumont Foundation, the work pays tribute to one of the many victims of police repression in a democracy, who died in May 1972 in Italy. The six musicians observe the audience; the trial begins. Without any instruments other than their own bodies, they let their masks and hands be heard …
The composer Francesco Filidei is one of the most promising composers of his generation. Born in 1973, he still has stories, memories and tragic political events from his native Italy, particularly from the period of the "leaden years". He wanted to perform the funeral of Franco Serantini, a popular anarchist beaten to death by the police during a demonstration in Pisa.
Commissioned by the Royaumont Foundation , the work is an homage to one of the many victims of police repression in democracy , who died in May 1972 in Italy.
The six musicians observe the public; the trial begins . No other instruments as their own bodies, they uttered their masks and their hands …
Commissioned : Les Percussions de Strasbourg, pour leur cinquante ans Creation : 10 mars 2011, États-Unis, Boston, Tsai Performance Center, par Les Percussions de Strasbourg et le Boston University Symphony Orchestra, direction : John Page. Duration : 19 minutes Team : 6 percussionists Editor : Billaudot
Speaking in Tongues was written for the 50th anniversary of Les Percussions de Strasbourg. The piece features the 6 soloists of Les Percussions de Strasbourg with full orchestra. Four of the percussionists are placed in the Hall, surrounding the audience, while the other two are placed in front of the orchestra on opposite sides. Each of the offstage percussionists is joined by one instrument from the orchestra, creating washes of sustained tones from all directions. The broad palette of the orchestra combined with the virtuosity and flexibility of the percussion soloists allows the creation of a complex sonic environment in which the constantly re-contextualized foreground is deployed.
The music grows out of this configuration like the breath and voice of a virtual body, but a body of vast proportions and a voice speaking in something not quite like any language ever heard. The audience is plunged into the middle of this body where sounds ebb and flow and move, patterns gradually emerge, then start to shape memory and expectation and ultimately begin to evoke sense and meaning.
creation : 30.09.2001, Festival Musica (Strasbourg, France) composition and conception : Henry Fourès musicians: 6 percussionists et un soliste duration : 16′
Like Gegenlicht (Backlight), Vom Blau (Au bleu), Kristall, pieces for bass clarinet, double bass and alto saxophone premiered at Musica 1999,Sommerbericht is one of Paul Celan's poems where language most expresses the conquest of an endangered stability. Stability of the poet as well as of the poem. Der nicht mehr beschrittene, der / ungangene Thymianteppich. / Eine Leezeile, quer / durch die Glockenheide gelegt. / Nichts in den Windbuch getragen. /Wieder Begegnungen mit / wereinzelten Worten wie: Steinschlag, Hargräser, Zeit. Emptiness of step / circumnavigated, the carpet of thyme. / Line of white, laid / across the heather moor. / Nothing carried in the windfall. / Encounters again with / isolated words such as: scree, gorse, time. It seems - as Armand Robin has found in other poets driven by the same desire to purify language - that sometimes the poem starts out from an emotional chaos and ends up in a language where only the finest molecules of the original tohu-bohu remain. It is also a path that music often takes in its dual relationship of form and meaning: a path that the use of percussion, the "original instrument", makes even more sensitive. These poems, read more than twenty years ago and reread over and over again, appear to be unsurpassable texts, devoid of any aestheticism, essential, in a light strangely close to those of Attila Joszef discovered at the same time. It has taken all these years for these texts that accompany me to become "pre-texts" for the writing of a music that does not illustrate, does not comment on the poem but has simply been awakened by it.
commission : state command and Radio-France creation : 02.02.2002 Festival Présences composition : 2001 musicians : 6 percussionists dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg duration : 20 ‘
Above all, it seems to us perhaps more meaningful to specify the context in which the singular elaboration of this music took place.
We must go back to that day in April when Jean-Paul Bernard, artistic director and instrumentalist of the Percussions de Strasbourg, suggested that each of us write a piece for the ensemble. We immediately felt the desire to unite our musical affinities in a common project. This came about naturally because we have been friends for a long time, we have collaborated on many projects and we founded the Sphota ensemble in 2000. The 1500 km that separated us during the composition period made it possible for us to work together more intuitively, based on a common set of experiences and trends, and a little bit of telecommunication.
commission : Les Percussions de Strasbourg creation : 12.02.1983 at Nice (France) duration: 25'
This work can be considered as a suite for percussion ensemble. In the first, second and fourth parts, the choice of instrumentation has been deliberately limited to instruments of the same family: 1st part: 6 keyboards 2nd part: rattlesnakes, glockenspiels Part 4: pipe bells, cowbells, Philippine gongs These three movements define a kind of "sound geography" of the musical space constituted by the percussion instruments. This sound geography is totally "exploded" in movements 3 and 5 where each of the groupings of instruments is partially used. The writing of each part constantly puts in parallel or in opposition a dense material spread over 5 voices to an independent voice, solitary but complementary and necessary to the 5 others. Hence the title "Cinque per sei".
Dedicated to : Percussions de Strasbourg creation : 1er juillet 1978, Italie, Rome, Villa Médicis, by Les Percussions de Strasbourg, direction : Allain Gaussin musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 20' publishing : Salabert, Paris
It was during my stay at the Villa Medicis (77 - 79) in Rome that I composed Colosseo. The Colosseum had impressed me greatly at that time with its extraordinary dimensions, its elliptical construction and its relatively satisfactory state of preservation compared to its 19 centuries earlier. The choice of percussion instruments was immediately obvious in order to convey the image of the ancient battles and struggles that were taking place; but with Colosseo it is neither programme music nor descriptive music, at most it is a personal musical metaphorical evocation.
As far as the instrumental treatment is concerned, I wanted to give clear and sharp colours, essentially using a principle of writing by tone families. Composed in a single piece, this work is made up of five parts which are fused into each other, except between the second and third parts:
1 Moving metal mass. Here the image of the Coliseum is particularly sensitive: unique material: metals (tams tams, gongs, cymbals) writing in curved space (elliptical shape of the Colosseum) intensity of nuances (blood play, earthly hell)
2 Keyboard counterpoint. Cohabitation of three distinct musics : expanding harmony with the three vibraphones, counterpoint of xylorimba and marimba, long sentences with Tibetan rattlesnakes.
3 Fractures. (Skins, cymbal pizzas, skins)
4 Ascent of distant bells.
5 Ritual. Rhythmic exuberance and abundance composed of short repetitive cells (wood, metal) against a background of mobile skin bearings.
Creation : 21.01.1996 – Roma (Italia) Music : Stefano Gervasoni Number of musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 17' Editor : Salabert
Order of state for the Percussions de Strasbourg
« Attractive emptiness in which the look finds no repose, invisible thread that separates and recomposes balances, unreachable threshold of permanent transmutation. Transparent and airy blue of the sky, which imperceptibly, becomes the earth and remains the sky. Metaphore for perception: ’for something to look interesting, one must simply look for a long time. » Gustave Flaubert
creation : 22.09.2012 at Théâtre National de Strasbourg, festival Musica. France. composition : Stefano Gervasoni directing : Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski libretto : Patrick Hahn scenography : Laurence Bruley lighting : Felix Lefebvre musicians : 6 percussionists, 3 instrumentalists (flutes, horns, cymbalum), 3 baroque-contemporary singers (soprano, countertenor, baritone), 3 actors
The feast: the table
What if the percussionists' instruments were the table? Can we envisage a show where the instruments are invisible? Can our gestures, our attitudes generate original and radical situations?
The dishes, glasses, cutlery, bottles, cooking, smells, and above all everything else will remain! On stage, six percussionists, three other instrumentalists, three singers, and three singing actors for an explosive cocktail.
It should have been an operetta or a buffa opera, in the end it will be neither or both at the same time. But we are sure it won't be an opera.
creation : 21.12.2002, Guebwiller, Chr de ch. & Les Percussions de Strasbourg commission : Noël en Alsace musicians : 12 mixed voices and 6 percussionists duration : 23’ publishing : Jobert
"Au comment était le verbe", the first work of a religious nature by Suzanne Giraud.
Guebwiller (Upper Rhine). Dominicans. 21XII2002. Suzanne Giraud, Au commencement était le Verbe (world premiere) (+ works by FB Mâche, J. Cage, and F. Poulenc). Strasbourg Chamber Choir; Percussions de Strasbourg. Conductor: Catherine Bolzinger. This same programme was repeated in Mulhouse, Temple SaintEtienne, on 22XII2002].
For her first work of religious inspiration, Suzanne Giraud set to music the Prologue of the Gospel according to Saint John. This famous passage had been submitted to her by the theologian Jean-Louis Hoffet, a member of the board of the Noël en Alsace association, which commissioned the score. Particularly beautiful and strong in itself, this text had never been set to music, at least in all of its most recent known verses, Hoffet having subtracted those of probably earlier origin relating to John the Baptist. The initial verse gave the work its title: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was turned to God, / and the Word was God. …] And the Word was flesh / and he dwelt among us / and we saw his glory…". It is a brilliant return to the very sources of Christianity that the composer paints in this large, twenty-five-minute page combining two rarely-heard ensembles, mixed choir and percussion. The raw material of percussion, which can also sing, combined with the human voice through which the divine Word that each of us carries within us expresses itself, and which can be as raw as primitive instruments, forms an unusual alloy that Suzanne Giraud has melted with remarkable mastery to create a profound and lyrical score with dazzling contrasts of light and life. But it is above all a matter of grace, mystery and accomplishment, with this taut and compact harmony that creates a silky fabric that is constantly shifting with the constant and natural use of the quarter-tone.
In ’Envoütement VI’, Suzanne Giraud calls upon the soloist to imbue her structure with different vocal expressions, vocal gestures and imitations of the score for percussion, as well as, wherever possible, the play of lighting. The construction of the piece brings into rhythmic relationship the perspectives of composer, performers and public, including, by turns, several provocative devices. The work includes also a humorous dimension, in particuliar, through its use of the ’lion’s roar’ instrument, which marks turning points of the work like the blink of an eye, or the shout of protest of the composer.
Creation : 28/09/2000 – Münchner Kammerspiele Scenography : Klaus GRUNBERG Sound : Yves KAYSER Light : Jean-Luc BAECHLER Music and conception : Heiner Goebbels Number of musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 54 mn
Rather than a performance, it ill be a conjunction of actions imbued with dramatic effect (with theatrical backin) but marked by an absence of actual theatricality. Many actions which will be scenic as such or set off by circumstance rather than by any intention to be played ; there will be calm meditative scenes and moments of movement and agitation. The key criteria for the music remains the scenic meaning behind the creation and the climate, colour, and overall impression offered by the layers of music. First and foremost, questions : how can the percussionists use their instruments without actually playing them in the traditional sense ? Setting into motion something that has been provoked by the instruments, while depriving them of their usual powers, perhaps playing on areas of their instruments that were not intended for that purpose ?
The title Naissance means the gradual development of the system of 12 tones. At first only a is used, later on e, d and so on until all 12 tones of our chromatic system are realized (bar 194). At the end of the piece this process will be inverted.
Some more processes can be mentioned: for example the combination of fixed pattern in the inner voices (marimba) on the one hand and melodic structures in the outer voices (vibes and percussion) on the other hand. A combination which can be identified all over the piece.
There is sometimes a kind of interruption of the dominant musical flow.
Naissance will be realized by
percussions : – small cymbals (without long reverb) – big cymbals (with reverb = w.r.) – bongos – other percussion sounds can be used as well
commission : Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and Percussions de Strasbourg creation : 29.09.1993 at festival Musica de Strasbourg duration : 15′ musicians : group (piccolo, bautbois, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, two violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion) and six percussion instruments partners : with the help of the CAC (Conseil de Arts du Canada)
The composer tells us that we are in the presence here of a "music of metamorphoses" and that, "this work evokes an awareness of human tragedy. The music is therefore both an actress and a spectator in that it proposes the evolution of the way we look at human tragedies at the same time as it evokes them, like an incessant back and forth between cause and effect, between the outside and the inside.
An inescapable journey, this "train of recklessness" (or unconsciousness), although later shaken by two "vertigoes", will continue its course towards the abyss ("the train to hell"). The music thus follows an increasingly dramatic trajectory, until the final tragedy in which purity (innocence, beauty, childhood) is murdered".
This "instrumental tragedy" is a work of remarkable intelligence and maturity. Here Gougeon demonstrates a skilful skill in marrying percussion instruments with other instruments, with the help of a writing of true technical skill. The lyricism and almost classical harmonic colouring associated with this composer are of course present, as in most of his other works.
Excerpt from the programme notes of the concert of May 10, 1995 written by Sophie Galaise.
Comissioned by French State and Percussions de Strasbourg Creation : 16.03.1991 at Ars Musica Festival, Brussels, BEL Music and conception : Gérard GRISEY Scenography : Claudia DODERER, with K. DREISSIGACKER (architect) and K. BOLLINGER (engineer) Spatialization : Oton SCHNEIDER Text : Jean-Pierre LUMINET On stage : 6 percussionists, around the audience Duration : 60' Edition : Salabert
The Noir de l’Etoile is dedicated to my son Raphaël with affection and to the Percussions de Strasbourg. "And I would also like to point out: The unprecedented and irreplaceable aspect of the live transmission in the concert hall of these imperturbable cosmic clocks which have travelled across several light years…Their unexpected confrontation with music, which not only prepares their "entry" onto a musical and theatrical stage, but whose whole temporal organisation Is the product of their speed of rotation… Their integration into a spatialized form of music by the positioning of the six percussions and speakers around the audience… The staging and lighting of these extinguished stars using appropriate projection and lighting devices… The at once musical, visual, theatrical, but also festive and didactic character of a moving and exceptional event." Gérard Grisey
"How can the myth of duration, a cellular organisation of a flow obeying other laws, emerge? How to sketch out in conviction and at the edge of silence a rhythmic inscription that is at first indistinguishable and then finally hammered into an archaic form? While composing an image came to me: that of archaeologists discovering a stele and dusting it off until they uncovered a funerary inscription. »
Gérard Grisey, programme of the 4th Italian contemporary music festival, Centre Georges-Pompidou, Thursday 4 April 1996.
Tempus Ex Machina is essentially a study of time. The heights of skins, woods and metals, schematised to the extreme and quickly spotted by the ear, allow an acute concentration on the temporal structure. It is a blueprint from which the colour is reduced to the bare essentials: only the form emerges, and the slightest error is fatal. The material is almost sublimated into a pure sonic becoming. Thus, the rhythms of the initial sequence are not to be taken as a cell, but rather as a vehicle of time: periodicity, acceleration and deceleration are only three poles between which the discourse shimmers, making its way between the similar and the different, towards the very interior of the sound…
This slow journey from microphone to microphone determines the shape of "Tempus ex machina", a real time-dilation machine, whose zoom effect lets us gradually perceive the grain of the sound, then the material itself. Thus, the last sounds perceived are only the blows of the bass drum and the wooden drum at the beginning of the score, but dilated to the extreme, allowing us to apprehend the inaudible: transients, partials, beats… the very body of the sound.
After many meanders, we reached the goal of the journey: the other side of the mirror.
According to the composer, two features distinguish this work from those composed previously:
1. The central theme here is the concordance between the sound intervals and its resulting sounds. The structure of the form results in this way: the sound movement reaches silence three times. Before this static background is reached, only the pulsation caused by the intervals of the preceding chord remains. Such episodes occur at specific points and subject the form to the law of the golden ratio. 2. Solo percussionists have seven episodes in this work during which they perform in front of the orchestra and improvise without a pre-set text. It is, so to speak, reminiscent of the instrumental practice of a time when there was only an oral culture. »
commission : Studium / Toulouse (France) dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg creation : 15.04.1987 composition : 1987 musicians : 6 percussionists duration : 15 ‘
Written in 1986 at the request of the organisers of the "Soirées Catalanes du Studium de Toulouse", this work was given its first performance the following year by the Percussions de Strasbourg, to whom it is dedicated.
Carmen Amaya was one of the greatest flamenco dancers and this "Tribute" aims above all to reflect, through the personal vision of the author, the most outstanding features of this great artist.
Inspired by the disc 'In memoriam-Carmen Amaya', certain sequences have been transformed into a modern language. The morphology is free and the only movement can be considered as a Fantasy, with three main intertwined sections, from which the atmosphere and tension of the first section stand out, the melody-timble side with several allusions to the "cante jondo" of the second, while the third, essentially rhythmic, is based on the typical "zapatsado" and achieves its full scope by using a range of frequencies emitted mainly by skin instruments and "palmas" that underline the elegiac character of the finale.
Cowbells, Thai gongs and tuned wood-blocks were also used to transform the tonal elements into a suggestive climate with exotic sounds, confirming once again this search for a synthesis of cultures that is a constant in Guinjoan music.
creation : 1942, San Francisco duration : 2' musicians : 3 percussionists
A ballet for three players and dancers. The eight movements are titled: I. The Trumpets of Heaven; II. Seed; III. Coronation; IV. The Battle with Bunyan; V. Fruition; VI. Meeting with the Ancient Days; VII. Ode; VIII. Whoops for Johnny. Instrumentation: vibraphone, 6 lengths of steel conduit pipe, pipe claves, wood claves (Player I); 5 cowbells, 1 pair of sistrums (metal maracas), 1 pair of maracas, wooden box, marimba (Player II); 5 tom-toms, bass drum, clock coils (Player III). Instructions are included in the score.
creation : 29.09.2009, France, Strasbourg, Festival Musica, Cité de la musique, by Les Percussions de Strasbourg. duration: 12' publishing : Suvini Zerboni, Milan musicians : 6 percussionists
One of the peculiarities of music (perhaps the most important) is to be able to make us perceive different qualities of time.
The piece explores three qualities of time. A still time, where nothing happens except a regular pulsation like the seconds passing by. It is a time in the image of physics; a time "in the distance". A rotating time, where the same musical formula is always repeated, evoking the automatism of the machine. Finally, a dynamic time, driven by the development of musical material that is always evolving. It is an animated time, like that of our daily life, a time "that surrounds us", that we inhabit. It is the time of the place where we are. But this time of place often escapes us when we allow ourselves to be carried along by the speed of today's world. The speed of communication networks gives us the illusion of being everywhere at the same time and makes us lose the notion of distance. We forget where we are.
The whole room is traversed by a slowing down movement at several levels of musical construction. The music slows down and invites us to slow down. Slow down to escape the speed of the flows, slow down to listen, observe what surrounds us, slow down to regain awareness of where we are.
Commissioned by Les Percussions de Strasbourg with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. Musicians : 6 percussionists With the participation of Rin Otsuka Factory.
This piece was composed for Les Percussions de Strasbourg, and it is my first piece for the percussion ensemble.“Regentanz” means a ritual to pray for rain in German. “Rain-making” which have been handed down at various places around the world are rituals to pray for “rain” as God’s grace when droughts continues. In many cultural regions around the world, people have a sense that “rain is a gift from God, if the rain stops, it is the punishment of God.” The ritual with performing music and dancing is held to gain the interest of God, to entertain God and to win God’s sympathy.This piece is my imaginary rain-making ritual music. It consists of descriptions of various forms of rain with percussion instruments (raindrops, quiet rain, heavy rain, rain showers, a roll of thunder and thunderstorm, etc.), then the final part based on the rhythm of the American Indians’ rain-making dance appears, it evolves into the music which brings excitement and intoxication.
"Sen VI was commissioned by and is dedicated to Isao Nakamura for his solo recital in Berliner Festwochen 1993. The word sen of the title generally means “line” in Japanese, but is here used to mean the strokes of the brush seen in Eastern calligraphy and India ink paintings. This work for percussion is sixth in a series for solo instruments, which I began in 1984, entitled Sen. The others are Sen I for flute (1984), Sen II for violoncello (1986), Sen III for sangen (1989), Sen IV for organ (1990), and Sen V for accordion (1992). Brushstrokes gain strength from the empty space behind them. The calligrapher of necessity strokes for balance with this empty space as he applies his brush. This empty space suggests a world that cannot be drawn, a world that cannot be seen, and a world where sounds do not reach our ears. It suggests a world of unreality, of dreams, the unconscious which conceals the unlimited potential hidden within the human being. This blank space is a hidden womb of natural energy, concealing our deepest potential. The blank spaces of music are the worlds of silence and pianissimo. In Sen VI I have tried to open up new sound space by portraying the diverse, never before heard, barely noticeable changes in the world of pianissimo which occur at the very edge of our sense of hearing." Toshio Hosokawa
creation : 28.01.1997 à Milan composition : Toshio Hosokawa duration : 9' musicians : 2 percussionists commission : Società del Quartetto di Milano
Windscapes for two percussion players
In this work, two percussion players, while rebbing, striking and touching various percussion instruments, create a wave motion in imitation of the wind. The voices (and breathing) of the performers are also articulated to sound like the wind. The wall separating what is internal to the human being and what is external is continually broken down by the humancreated sounds through their suggesting the wind, which is a natural sound coming from outside the human being. This work was inspired by the following poem from Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus :
Einzige Welle, deren allmähliches Meer ich bin; sparsamstes du von allen möglichen Meeren,― Raumgewinn.
Wieviele von diesen Stellen der Räume waren schon innen in mir. Manche Winde sind wie mein Sohn. Rainer Maria Rilke from « Die Sonette an Orpheus »
English translation Lone wave, whose gradual sea I am; you sparsest of possible seas― making room.
How many places in space have already been inside me! Many a wind is like a son to me… (« Breathing, you invisible poem! » in Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus. Translated by David Young)
It was commissioned by the Società del Quartetto di Milano and composed in the autumn of 1996. It is dedicated to its first performers, the Danish percussionists Safri Duo. Toshio Hosokawa
Next performance of this program : Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris on January 23rd 2021, 3 p.m.
Dancing with the rain, in order to conjure, just for a moment, what we thought invisible. Driven by curiosity, eagerness, passion, excellency and tradition, the Percussions de Strasbourg ventures to embody the unique energy of a programme in tribute to four Japanese composers with admirable universes. Rain of petals, rain of screams, rain of silences, all these emotions are harmonized and kept in motion by the Percussions de Strasbourg.
Regentanz (2018), Toshio Hosokawa Sange (2016), Malika Kishino Hiérophonie V (1975), Yoshihisa Taïra Rain Tree (1981), Tōru Takemitsu
Programm details :
This recital was first performed on 2018, November the 1st at the Funkhaus Cologne as part of the WDR Köln Muzik Der Zeit Festival. It was recorded on 24 and 25 January 2019 at the Théâtre de Hautepierre and was released on 13 September 2019 on the Percussions de Strasbourg label.
The commission of the piece of Regentanz – Toshio Hosokawa was supported by the Musical Fundation Ernst von Siemens.
With the participation of Rin Otsuka Factory, VanderPlas Vibraphones, Playwood and Aquarian Drumheads.
REGENTANZ – Toshio Hosokawa
Commissioned by : Percussions de Strasbourg, with the support of the Ernst Von Siemens Foundation. Premiere : 01.11.2018 @ Funkhaus, Cologne, Festival “Musik der Zeit” WDR Köln Duration : 15 minutes
Regentanz is a work inspired by traditional Japanese ceremonial music, in the image of a Japanese garden where everything seems motionless and where everything finally starts to move. Toshio Hosokawa proposes a piece on the theme of spirituality and shamanism, using the many Asian instruments present in the instrumentarium of the Percussions de Strasbourg : tam-tams, gongs, kwon gongs, baolos, water gongs, mokushos… His music, between inner journey and symbolic interpretation of nature, is characterized by an economy of means, an important place given to silence, resonance and the relationship between sound and corporality.
SANGE – Malika Kishino
Commissioned by : the Ministry of Culture and Communication Premiere : 05.12.2016 at Teatro comunale Città di Vicenza, Italy Duration : 15 minutes
A tribute piece written on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Yoshihisa Taïra’s death, Sange mainly uses the instrumentarium and the implantation of Hierophony V. During the Sange, a Buddhist ceremony, priests circulate in space reciting the Sutra, while spreading petals to bless the deceased spirits. The Japanese literal translation means “spreading of petals” (San = spreading; Ge = petals). Originally, fresh lotus flowers and petals were used in this ritual. Today, these are replaced by coloured paper. In Sange, Malika Kishino uses the gesture of spreading and the movement of the priests as the main sound material and musical gesture. The numerous play modes, their combinations and the creation of various sound layers use several trajectories in space and thus set the sounds in motion, giving an electroacoustic dimension to the piece.
HIEROPHONIE V – Yoshihisa Taïra
Commissioned by : Ministry of Culture / Royan Festival First performance : 23.03.1975 @ Royan Festival, by Percussions de Strasbourg Duration : 18 minutes
“This work, which begins with the primitive acts of percussion and shouting, continues in the second part with the negation of this same act. Here, the act of percussion is very limited. Could we not perceive the serenity of the Soul in the continuous vibration of the instruments? From afar, one can hardly hear the drums of the popular festival, as if the men joined together by striking the instruments themselves and thus realized the song of the breath of life. In the same way, the six percussionists freely regain the breathing of the body. Through the repeated rhythmic ostinato, I wanted to confirm, in my own way, the essential pleasure of the body. I dedicate this work to the Percussions de Strasbourg with whom I had an unforgettable musical experience during the rehearsals ” R, D. Yoshihisa Taïra
RAIN TREE – Toru Takemitsu
Premiere : 31.05.1981 @ Tokyo, Music Today Festival Duration : 12 minutes
“It is called rain tree because the day after the rainy nights, until at least midday, the tree continues to dribble with all its foliage, as if it were raining. While other trees dry out almost immediately, this one, which is covered with extremely tight leaves as small as the pulp of a finger, retains water in its foliage. A clever tree, don’t you think? » From An Intelligent “Rain Tree”, Kenzaburo Oe (Original Title: Atama no ii rein tsurii).
Creation : 1999, Taipei International Percussion Convention
"This piece follows from the orchestral work "Le Chant Transfiguré" which I wrote in 1995. It uses the sounds of temple chants, developing their forms and simple melodic lines as a method of producing the tension and magnitude which serve as the foundation for the motives and development of the piece. Percussion was chosen as the medium, because it can deeply exhibit the force in delicacy, the strength in flexibility, and tolerantly admit accidents to express certain eastern ideas and aesthetics both purely and fully. This piece was commissioned by the Ju Percussion Group to be performed by Les Percussions de Strasbourg at 1999 Taipei International Percussion Convention." Chien-Hui Hung
« When one thinks of the Percussions de Strasbourg, one thinks of the imposing instrumentarium, the powerful sound, the unleashing of timbres and rhythms. However, when you work with these six musicians, you are in front of a real chamber music group. Forgetting the hopeless three-hour service, the composer can finally try, correct, transform and search with the percussionists for the right instrument, the right stick, the right attack, the right pulse, the right timbre. This precise work of chamber music is also similar to the rehearsal practice of rock or jazz bands who don't look at their watch and want to play "together", which is not always the case in music. It is together, again, that we eat our meals, that we joke at night, late after the concerts, waking up the good sleeping bourgeois with a few well watered "oxen". Then, when the percussionists of Strasbourg celebrate their fortieth birthday, one is delighted to write and one is ready to interrupt the piece in progress to pay homage to them, all the more so as the work is collective and good friends have taken up the pen. The challenge was to develop each person's ideas and when Jean-Paul Bernard asked me, almost at the "end of the list", to start writing, he suggested that I move away from the subject to create a break in this "preliminary agreement". It was about time and I made a deviation. Only a reminiscence on the snare drum of Martin Matalon's piece can make the connection with the music that precedes it. But this motif, inserted for a moment and "eaten away" little by little, is also a gap in the time of the piece and changes the way you listen to it. »
Les quarante ans, Écart en temps, écart/ententes. Philippe Hurel
Creation : 2 March 2010 at Théâtre d'Orléans, for the Orléans International Piano Competition Commissioner : Orléans International Piano Competition and the Strasbourg Percussion Competition, 2009. With the support of the Conseil Régional du Centre and the Francis and Mica Salabert Foundation. Duration : 14' Musicians : piano solo and 3 percussionists Publishing : Henry Lemoine 2011
Written for solo piano and three percussion instruments, Interstices is like a "mini concerto," with the percussion instruments providing the orchestral part. Of course, the piano is not just a soloist, and in some places it can merge with the percussion to create a single timbre. As its title suggests, the piece is constructed in large sections interrupted by intervals of time during which highly identifiable elements appear. These elements, brief rhythmic events or real musical situations, may in turn give rise to a new intelligible discourse, itself interrupted by new events, and so on. For example, the piece ends with a "loop" whose main element had been inserted, as a parenthesis, in the previous section, itself composed of a short homorhythmic motif that had repeatedly interrupted the slow section of the work, placed just before it. As far as the instrumental treatment is concerned, I have retained here a relatively classical piano writing. As the piece was written for an international piano competition, I wanted the instrumentalists to be able to exploit all their technical resources. It is the blurring with percussion as well as the doublings with keyboards or instruments at relative pitches that make it possible to escape the too direct and codified perception of the piano. Interstices is a very energetic and rhythmic piece and the most static and poetic moments are also disturbed by the interventions of very incisive rhythmic motifs. Here, everything is tension and when, at rare moments, one could hope for a little peace and quiet, an event appears that calls into question the calm that one thought one had finally found. Interstices is dedicated to Françoise Thinat.
Creation : 24 April 1996 at Marseille, Théâtre de la Criée Duration : 18' Musicians: 6 percussionists and fixed sounds Publishing : Billaudot
"This four-part piece was composed after La Célébration des invisibles, a work for percussion and choir that Les Percussions de Strasbourg premiered in 1992. When Les Percussions de Strasbourg asked me to write this work, the challenge was to create music that could coexist, in the same concert, with pieces written by composers from the jazz world. Kits is therefore a work of rhythmic and harmonic development based on cells strongly influenced by jazz (kits 1) and funk music (kits 4). The aim was to homogenise disparate elements: the harmonies are the result of calculations (spectral compression, interpolations…) whereas the rhythms refer to jazz and are often freely processed. The contribution of the electric bass recorded in the form of a sequence makes it possible to bring together worlds that would naturally be of a heterogeneous nature. Finally, I wanted this piece to keep a playful and non-theoretical character, and that it be above all intended for the instrumentalists of the Percussions de Strasbourg." Philippe Hurel.
Creation : 03/11/1992, Théâtre du Maillon, Strasbourg Comissioner : Ministère de la Culture and Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: Vocal Ensemble, choral, 6 percussionists Direction : Roland Hayrabedian Duration : 60' Publishing: Billaudot Text : Philippe Raymond-Thimonga; La Célébration des Invisibles , Mercure de France Performer(s) of the creation : Percussions de Strasbourg, Ensemble vocal Musicatreize, Amalgame Shadow theatre : Michel Rosenmann
Melodrama for percussion, choir and shadow theatre.
Echoing the discovery of the New World in the 15th century, La Célébration des invisibles, composed to a text by Philippe Raymond-Thimonga, evokes the future approach to a new form of life, another form of city, in space… Between the ancient, modern and future conquests a bridge takes shape, the resurgence of the same solar dream, the double face of the fabulous and the tragic. The notion of temporal space is matched by that of sound space, and although on stage the musicians are placed in a traditional manner, the listener can hear real journeys described by the rhythmic or melodic formulas of the percussionists. This is made possible by a script that includes the spatialization of the instruments and thus organizes their diffusion over the loudspeakers at six points in the hall. The play written in 1992 involved shadow theatre and actors. The new version, only musical, includes Kits I and Kits III, which were composed in 1996 as interludes to the Celebration of the Invisibles and therefore naturally find their place here.
Creation : 08 December 2018 at Marmoutier, France Musicians : 3 percussionists Comissioner : Percussions de Strasbourg Duration : 12'
After having written several long plays for various cast sizes, I turn to miniature for the second time. I am also taking advantage of this return to a certain form of apparent simplicity to focus on instruments of indefinite height (temple blocks, wooden drums, various metals without a fixed height, skins, various percussive objects, etc.), whereas my work for percussion had hitherto focused on keyboards. These Three Miniatures for Three Percussionists will also take on a hieratic character dictated by recent personal events and also by my growing interest, at the age of over sixty, in the realm of the sacred.
John CAGE But what about the noise of crumpling paper (1985) 25’ Ryoji IKEDA 100 cymbals (2019) 35’
French creation : 17 September 2020, Musica, Strasbourg, France Musicians : The Percussions de Strasbourg – Alexandre Esperet, Léa Koster, Emil Kuyumcuyan, Olivia Martin, Minh-Tâm Nguyen, François Papirer, Lou Renaud-Bailly, Thibaut Weber, Hsin-Hsuan Wu, Yi-Ping Yang Coproduction : Les Percussions de Strasbourg / Festival Musica external advice : Alexandre Babel With the special help of Yamaha and Turkish cymbals
“Ten silhouettes dressed in black circulate in the middle of a copper mushroom field. Without superfluous gesture, without any muscle in their faces altering their neutrality, they make 100 cymbals resonate at waist height […]. 100 Cymbals, a piece by Ryoji Ikeda, a contemporary music guru with rare public appearances, is just enough to express what a cymbal can. The audience imagines a chaotic hubbub of hammering crashes, with arrhythmic drummers pounding the metal like a nail. Not at all. It’s all about sweetness: a light drone with changing harmonics caresses their eardrums like a cottony violin or synth layer. There is even vocality in the call of the brass, almost a song. The cymbal, this instrument of delicacy. “ Guillaume Tion, Libération, Sept. 29, 2020
With 100 cymbals, Ryoji Ikeda dives us into the abyss of vibration. A unique listening experience. Created in 2019 at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in the sumptuous hall designed by architect Frank Gehry, 100 Cymbals is as much a stage performance as an audiovisual installation. Ryoji Ikeda highlights the rich potential of cymbals by following the thin line between noise and harmonic resonance. The seemingly rudimentary instrument, a convex disc made of an alloy of copper, brass and bronze, which is more commonly used to accentuate certain times of the measure, is transformed into a powerful polyphonic resource. The different modes of playing, more or less conventional, maintain a fusional – almost choral – sound and allow harmonic strata and other acoustic results to emerge within a process that a simple line could represent: an infinite crescendo, leading from an almost imperceptible murmur to the brilliance of the final fortississimo.
The concert opens with the sound portrait that John Cage dedicated to Hans Arp, from Strasbourg, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth. The American composer considered the co-founder of the Dada movement as a model, particularly for his relationship to nature and his cosmogonic conception of art. The result is this conceptual, machine-typed score offered to the Percussions de Strasbourg in 1986, where the musical language is reduced to five typographical signs. A minimal work, made of environmental rustle, which in the same way as 100 cymbals, solicits a deep listening.
About John Cage’s piece :
« But what about the noise of crumpling paper which he used to do in order to paint the series of “Papiers froisses” or tearing up paper to make “Papiers dechires?” Arp was stimulated by water (sea, lake, and flowing waters like rivers), forests. »
The title comes from this letter, written by Greta Ströh, manager of the Arp Foundation. This letter is part of the correpondence between Ms.Ströh and John Cage, concerning this project. There are 10 parts of which between 3 to 10 may be used in a performance. Repetitions may be made. Each player chooses 2 slightly resonant instruments (or more) of different materials played in unison. In the parts these are notated as + . The o in the parts stand for water, paper or other unidentified sounds. Dynamics are free, but should be varied. A performance should be without conductor, very slow, each player following his or her own beat. Each performer plays his part twice, but as each player keeps his own time, the second performance will be different, since things coccur at different moments. Performers may be stationed around the audience, or among them, or on stage. If the works is performed on a stage, the players should not be too close together.
Sources: Paul van Emmerik: Thema’s en Variaties; New York Public Library online catalog; Richard Kostelanetz: John Cage writer – Previously uncollected pieces; David Revill: The Roaring Silence
Creation : 8 October 2003, at Musica (Strasbourg, France) State command for Les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 12'
This piece is dedicated to the memory of Gérard Grisey. The piece is inspired by the sound coming from a steam well of a geothermal power plant in Iceland. This noise, and the force it represents, had greatly impressed Gérard Grisey during a visit to Iceland. Indeed, at the time it was the most powerful light in Iceland (around 55 MW). He asked me to record it but I didn't manage to do it before his death. In 2001 I finally made a recording of this sound. The intention was not to imitate this sound, of the dominant "white" character, but its different components influenced different sections of the work, which thus became a reflection around this subject in its sound, physical, energetic aspect. Since if it is true that white noise contains all the pitches, it is all the more true that it contains all the rhythms, and can be observed from a rhythmic point of view, as well as from the point of view of timbre.
Creation : 19 January 2002, at Strasbourg, La Laiterie Duration : 6' Publishing : Lemoine
"Incipit sings the collective work written for and with Les Percussions de Strasbourg. I found the idea of this exquisite corpse perfectly original, each composer writing one after the other and taking over the legacy of his or her predecessor(s). Being the first on the list, it is up to me to pave the way, to find a few leads, to create a precondition for what our future agreements would become. As its title indicates, Incipit is meant to be the beginning of a piece on fallow land, the end of which I have no control over. The dictionary says the following: "Incipit, third person singular of the Latin verb meaning to begin, formerly used to announce the title of a reading or copy; it has been preserved in French as a noun for the first words of a literary text or the first notes of a musical text". The six musicians begin with a simple tuning fork. They set the tone: a barely veiled questioning of the future of a few musical figures who are groping around, waiting for the inevitable blossoming…". Michaël Jarrell
Creation : 3 June 2010, Schwetzingen Festival, Germany Commission : State Command, Ircam-Centre Pompidou, Les Percussions de Strasbourg and the Schwetzingen Festival. Duration : 50' Effectif : 6 percussionists, 3 singers, Publishing : Lemoine
Musical theatre after the play by Heiner Müller
"The best thing is a stillborn father. Always pushes the grass over the border. The grass has to be pulled up again and again growing over the border. "This is how the autobiographical story of the writer Heiner Müller opens. Beginning under the Nazi regime and ending in communist rule, The Father goes through a life and grasps a history of Germany. In ten fragments, this abrupt and intimate text explores the relationship between a son and his father, or more precisely their immeasurable distance. After the monodrama Cassandra after Christa Wolf and the opera Galilei adapted by Bertolt Brecht, Michael Jarrell encounters the dense and violent language of the German playwright Heiner Müller, one of the contemporary writers who has had the greatest impact on musical creation - as witnessed by the works of Pascal Dusapin, Wolfgang Rihm, Georges Aperghis and Heiner Goebbels. Under the direction of André Wilms, Le Père stages an actor, a vocal ensemble, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the electronic processing and spatialisation of a musical theatre. A master of minute transitions, Michael Jarrell composes the appearances and disappearances, the shadows and projections of fragments of individual or collective memory.
Creation : 10 February 2007 at Geneva Duration : 6'
24 Loops is part of a cumulative music cycle, which began in 2006 with a piece for string quartet and which I am currently developing in the context of various projects. The principle of cumulative writing consists in using electronic resources to stack sequences played live. In the pieces that I have composed on this principle, everything that is played by the musicians is progressively frozen in time by a looping system. The music thus created is the result of the stacking of successive elements. In this piece, a scenographic process is added, proposing to the musicians to create a kind of round, each one coming, in turn, to "fill" the sound space. At the end of the 24th cell, an improvisation phase extends the musical space more freely.
Commission: Les Percussions de Strasbourg Production : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Coproduction: éole, studio de création musicale World Premiere: 19th of September 2017 - Warsaw Autumn Festival Conception, composition, lighting and video: Pierre Jodlowski Artistic and technical collaboration: François Donato Musicians: Les Percussions de Strasbourg - Minh-Tâm Nguyen, François Papirer, Galdric Subirana, Flora Duverger Object handler: Katharina Muschiol Real-time electronics: Pierre Jodlowski
Immersive and spellbinding, Pierre Jodlowski’s latest creation plunges us into an area of indefinite boundaries. Composed for electronics and four percussionists from the famous Percussions de Strasbourg, the score also includes the play of lights and writing of the stage space. Extended by a large panoramic screen, the stage changes into an infinite space, a territory where shadows seem to come and play with the bodies.
PRESS : " Memories, our ghosts, encounter turmoil of drums, forming with it a unique sound material. A high level cathartic show " (concertclassic.com)
" Virtuosity of the percussion quartet is astonishing " (ResMusica)
" A genre-breaking, striking work, in which percussionists are much more than simple music performer and which reveals different aspects of itself each time it is performed " (concertclassic.com)
World premiere at the Festival des Arts, Shiraz-Persépolis, Iran, by Gérard Jarry (violin), Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Creation : 1969 at Persepolis Duration : 17' Musicians: 1 violon, 6 percussionists based on the "Missa de Beata Virgine" by J. d. Pres
Comissioner : State for the Percussion Instrumental Group of Strasbourg Creation : 17 July 1969, Mexique, Mexico (Conservatoire National), by the Strasbourg Percussion Instrumental Group Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 12' Publishing : Billaudot, 1970
Creation : 22 April 1965 at Théâtre Municipal de Strasbourg, France Duration : 23'
Written for Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the Eight Inventions were performed for the first time on 22 April 1965 at the Théâtre Municipal Strasbourgeois with choreography by Manuel Parrès. Since that date, the Group has included them in numerous concert programmes.
1 Corale. In a very collected atmosphere, deaf chords sing a melody that is not very extensive and freely inspired by the plainchant. Mysterious melodies evolve around these sound axes to culminate in a brief middle crescendo, escaping their attraction only to return to silence. 2. Giubiloso. Brutal contrast with the previous piece. To a bell call, an assured response from the xylos, prolonged on a timpani background by the timbres which borrow, in a fragmentary way, a theme from the Corale, shows that this is a study of contrasting sound colours. The initial rhythmic group, where little by little the play is established between four partners, will assert itself dynamically by the gradual tightening of values. 3. Recitativo. After the jubilation, it is once again the conquest of a more interior universe that the slow, arpeggiated line of Thai gongs offers us, a melodic figure that will periodically interrupt, like an implacable fatality, a rhythmic discourse that hesitates to impose itself. The timbres seem to transpose a purely vocal writing. 4. Scherzo. Rhythmic study. Against a background of elementary snare drum texture, a melody with very frank turns entrusted to xylos, which are supported by cymbal effects. A short relaxation in the intensity, where we reach the figures of the temple-block on the oppressive roll of the bass drum; but it is only a heavy sky between two flashes of lightning. An unexpected and discreet coda punctuates the rest. 5. Lamentoso. This time the playing is organised around a theme exposed to the vibraphone, which borrows its approach from the music of the islands of the Pacific Ocean. The tam-tams iridescent with large beams of brassy colours, while the incantatory character is established by damped and grouped strokes with which the snare drum will dialogue, imposing its shorter durations. 6. Danza. Another rhythmic study which evolves in a very marked oriental atmosphere. The permanence of a simple structure, divided between toms and timpani, serves as a driving force for the simultaneous and accentuated action of various groups of opposite pitches and typical timbres such as these Thai gongs whose archaic melody captures the dream of the desert highlands. 7. Aria. A short melodic meditation of the vibraphone follows the "mantric" search of the previous piece, evolving on a distant quivering of suspended cymbals, tams and tremolos of marimbas. In this forest of timbres, the spiritual preoccupations of the Lamentoso, stripped of their anxiety, take on a more immaterial and serene register. 8. Diabolico. An exotic devil in his derisory works: the theme of the Corale is taken up again in short values by the xylos, this time aggressively distorting the original meaning, encouraged by the hammering of the haunting accents of the timpani and toms. Caricature of the initial inner effusion, the dance settles, until the final accelerando, in a panicky joy.
Acoustic show for 5 percussionists, staged and brought to light evocating shapes of water Convenient for young audience (from 6 years old)
Commisson : Les Percussions de Strasbourg World première: November 23, 2018 ; Festival Sons d'Automne ; Bonlieu, scène nationale d'Annecy (FR) Composition: Karl Naëgelen Musicians: Alexandre Esperet, François Papirer, Rémi Schwartz, Galdric Subirana, Hsin-Hsuan Wu Scenography : Adèle Ogier Lights creation: Guislaine Rigollet
By the way, what is the sound of water ? Take one element : water. Mix it with a body language full of grace, add the Percussions de Strasbourg and you get a delicious moment full of sounds and poetry ! Karl Naëgelen, composer, shapes an unseizable substance, the ondulating and rippling water as the waving sound. Concrete but solid, this ultimate oneiric element here becomes the center and the unity of this show. A refreshing shower as a symphonic poem without any words, a concept where we constantly call for an image, a show where we let ourselves rocked into an unusual reverie…
Commissioned by the French State and the Percussions de Strasbourg, for six percussionists. Tribute for the 10th anniversary of the death of Yoshihisa TAIRA Creation : 2016, Teatro comunale, Vicenza, IT Duration : 15'
Among the many Buddhist ceremonies, there is one in which priests walk around the ceremonial space reciting the Sutra, while spreading petals to bless the dead spirits. Originally, during "Sange" - 散華 , whose literal translation from Japanese means "spreading of petals" (San - 散 = spreading; Ge - 華 = petals), fresh lotus flowers and petals were used. During the ceremony, these are now replaced by coloured papers in the shape of lotus petals and are scattered in the main hall. The combination of the solemn recitation, the dance of the petals and, originally, the smell of fresh lotus, appeals to the hearts of the people through their auditory, visual and olfactory senses and transports them to a fantastic and magical atmosphere at the climax of the ceremony. Yoshihisa TAIRA used to say "that a masterpiece was like a polyhedron that always appeared to us differently depending on the angle from which we looked at it and whose state was constantly and progressively changing". With few materials, chosen very carefully, he transports us into a deep, rich and living musical universe, through the magic of the sounds of his fascinating piece, "Hierophony V", written for the percussions of Strasbourg.10 years after the death of my first composition teacher, "Sange" is my own polyhedron, based on, a definition of the form of "Hierophony V", the addition of the olfactory dimension representing the fragrance by the volatile emanation of the sounds produced by the six musicians, and an evolution of the sound materials. "Sange" mainly uses the instrumentarium and the implementation of "Hierophony V", and is inspired by its two strong musical ideas. The ostinato of the wooden drum at the end of the piece is one of the materials considered as a starting point for the creation of the sound space of "Sange". The striking energy of the gesture is here restored without the use of the voice. The many new modes of play and their combinations, as well as the creation of various sound layers using several trajectories in space by setting the sounds in motion, inspire an electroacoustic dimension to the piece. The composition is a very intellectual work but must also nourish the heart and the mind. "A piece must be very instinctive" and "Sange" is an organism, coming to life thanks to the sound energies produced by the Percussions de Strasbourg, whose desire is to lead us to the magic moment of infinite joy. Malika KISHINO
Creation : 17 October 2010, Theaterhaus Stuttgart Duration : 2'
Wave of passions for marimba, vibraphone and rattlesnakes Wave of Passions was composed for the 25th Anniversary of the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, where I was composer in residence in 2008 and 2009. For the composition of this piece, I had two conditions to fulfil:
the piece had to begin and end with the first chord of Tristan und Isolde, Richard Wagner's opera,
it was supposed to last two minutes.
In Wave of Passions, I tried to create a new meta-instrument by combining a marimba and a vibraphone. I wanted to express the permanent fluidity of the sound material generated by the decomposition of the Tristan und Isolde chord and to represent the energy curve of the ebbing waves.
Creation : 29 September 1985, Strasbourg-Mulhouse, Festival Musica, France Wind Orchestra of Bouxwiller, Dettwilller, Sarre-Union and Sarreguemines; Schiltigheim Mandolin Orchestra; Bruche Valley Accordion Orchestra; Les Percussions de Strasbourg; R. Goepp and R. Siegrist - conducting. Commissionner : Ministère de la culture Musicians : pour deux masses orchestrales dont vents, accordéons, mandolines et 6 percussions Duration: 60'
This piece is among a series of the composer's works titled Peril. The title suggests a sense of instability and unpredictability, which the composer tries to seize in these pieces. In Peril III, a drama of percussion ensemble is cast through the interplay of timbre, dynamics, and texture which involves a lot of experimental performing techniques and instrumentation, and which aims at achieving an unstable and unpredictable atmosphere. As a consequence, the central character of the piece is being anxious, insinuating, mystical, eerie, and sometimes ethereal and suffocatingly toneless.
World premiere: 2 July 2021, Jardin des Deux rives, Strasbourg, FR Musicians: 4 percussionnists, 1 sound ingenior Duration: 50' Coproduction: Motrice / CCAM Vandoeuvres-lés-Nancy / Festival Météo / Percussions de Strasbourg
Since 2017, Anthony Laguerre has started a research around the amplified drums with his solo Myotis. In this context, the first artistic gesture was to go towards the rock energy, which is the essence of the music he has been playing for 20 years. In a second stage, he has long directed his research towards the pianissimo nuance. In seeking the opposite of his primary energy, he found a way to bring inaudible sounds into play by amplifying them with microphones. The addition of loudspeakers on the drums brought an extra dimension and enormously nourished the sound material. Playing these sounds very quickly made him want to hear them deployed, played and interpreted by other musicians. The project is to compose a piece for an ensemble of percussionists to have them play the whole range of possible sounds contained in this music. Anthony Laguerre chose to work with the Percussions de Strasbourg, with the aim of going to the essential, to bring his vision of the sound of percussion and to transmit it. The Percussions de Strasbourg and their history offer an enormous field of research in terms of their immense technical skills of execution and the number of instruments they have at their disposal. Joining the Percussions de Strasbourg allows one to benefit from a singular listening experience, a particular way of playing and the discovery of a sound bank that is always in motion.
Creation :2 avril 2015 à Krems (Austria) by Les Percussions de Strasbourg et l'ensemble Arcatus Commissioned bythe Imago Dei Festival and the Austrian State. Musicians :6 percussionists and 6 vocalists. Duration:60'
Creation : le 14/03/2008 - Toboggan de Décines as part of the Biennale Musique en Scène de Lyon Composition : Mauro Lanza Vidéos : Paolo Pachini Commissioner : Commande de l'Etat Français Coproduction : Fondation Royaumont / Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie / GRAME, centre national de création musicale, GMEM, centre national de création musicale, Le Fresnoy, studio National des arts contemporains, Les Percussions de Strasbourg With the support of : SACEM, DICREAM, Nuovi Mecenati, Fondation Salabert, Ars Musica Festival and the Fondation Orange Musicians : 6 percussionists, 6 singers (Neue Vocalsolisten), electronics and video projections on several screens Duration : 70'
A multimedia performance by Mauro Lanza and Paolo Pachini, for six voices, six percussion instruments, electronics and eight videos based on texts by Leonardo da Vinci, Descrizione del Diluvio follows An Index of Metals (by Fausto Romitelli and Paolo Pachini, 2003) as an attempt at total art where sounds and images merge into a single perceptual bubbling. Leonardo da Vinci's texts are phonetic paintings in which the play of phonemes imitates the whirlpools of water. Although Leonardo classifies, counts and details the misfortunes of the flood with clinical rigour, his tongue is carried away by the fury of the sounds. True sound poetry of the indistinct, echoed by two famous engravings by the master. It is natural that these astonishing texts, claiming to be science but yielding to art, inspired the composer Mauro Lanza and the video artist Paolo Pachini. As with Leonardo, where art seeks emotion through objectivity, contemporary music and video achieve expressiveness through technological discipline. Moreover, in the magma of sounds describing the Flood, we can see the dawn of this overthrow of modern opera, which is no longer Dramma per musica - drama for music - as it once was, but Dramma dalla musica - drama through music. As with Leonardo, from sounds comes history, and from history comes images. The Royaumont Foundation is happy to continue, with two major artists of the young Italian creation, the adventure begun five years ago with Fausto Romitelli in search of an operatic form resolutely turned towards technology, opera-video, but where technology serves poetry. This ambitious work is also the fruit of a long collaboration between the Royaumont Foundation and the Studio National des Arts du Fresnoy, the GRAME and the GMEM Centres Nationaux de Création Musicale, the Monnaie de Bruxelles, and benefits from the internationally recognised talent of its performers: the Percussions de Strasbourg, the Neue Vocalsolisten. Descrizione del Diluvio a d'ors and already has ten performances scheduled in Lyon, Brussels, Marseille, Royaumont, Rome, Milan and Stuttgart. Marc Texier Artistic Director of Voix Nouvelles - Royaumont Foundation
Commissioned as part of the Percussions de Strasbourg/Espace Rohan touring cycle. Creation : 29/05/1999, Espace Rohan (Saverne, France) Musicians: 6 percussionists et 1 Djiembé Duration : 21' Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg and Adama Dramé
Bangka is a small Sunda island in the Java Sea off the coast of Sumatra…. In this piece, I wanted to make a synthesis of the rhythms and timbres of Indonesian and African music whose influence has become inevitable. The difficulty is to introduce these elements into learned music without betraying the spirit of these powerful cultures, which have become universal. Modes, dynamics, melodies and pulsation are expressive parameters that are constant enough to bring popular music closer together. Written music is merely a stylisation and amplification of these subtle combinations. Bach in his time transcended all exotism in his abstract pieces with such concrete sources (German, Mexican-Spanish sarabande, Scottish gigue, French gavotte, etc…). Bangka is both a poetic and geographical indication, and a rhythmic onomatopoeia played by the djembe at the beginning of the work. The simple and clear motif will be the driving force of the piece where the soloist's improvisations are directly taken from the written parts of the six percussionists. Christian LAUBA
Commissioner : Radio-France and Les Percussions de Strasbourg for the fortieth anniversary of the ensemble Creation : 17/01/2002, La Laiterie, Strasbourg, collective creation "Entente préalable" Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 4' Publishing : Leduc
"Kupang is the name of a small town on the island of Timor. This piece is a double homage, to the Indonesian music that particularly marked French composers at the beginning of the century, notably Debussy, and to groups such as the Percussions de Strasbourg that transcended and perpetuated this influence. This anniversary is the ideal pretext to synthesize in four minutes the spirit of these musics whose rhythms and instruments have become inevitable. " Christian Lauba
Creation : 24/09/2001 at Festival Musica (Strasbourg) Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration : 17' Publishing : Billaudot
De la vitesse attempts to bring together two ways of hearing and conceiving music. The establishment and exploitation of "figures" puts the discursive emphasis of composition on what is usually called: writing. On the other hand, the creation of sound continuums in which the notion of matter dominates is a more contemplative approach to sound. Speed is based on a constant to-and-fro between figures and matter which is established through more or less continuous processes of transformation. When a figure changes scale, if it is greatly slowed down for example, it reaches the status of matter. By condensing, it will in turn give birth to a new figure. By propagating to an underlying sound continuum, such as the wave produced by a pebble thrown into water, the figure can influence the destiny of the water. De la vitesse wants to be neither a contemplative work nor the sound materialisation of an abstract writing. It wants to be a sound writing, a writing of sounds, a writing of sounds. Philippe Leroux
Creation : 17 January 2002, Strasbourg, France Duration: 5' Musicians : 6 percussionists Publishing : Billaudot
"Rheumics was commissioned by Percussions de Strasbourg and Festival Présences. Part of a joint project by 12 composers for the 40th anniversary of the Percussions de Strasbourg, the work is gradually built up using elements taken from the pieces that preceded it, namely those by Michaël Jarrell and François-Bernard Mâche for the pitches and rhythms, and that of Fausto Romitelli for the timbres. She mainly uses objects that do not belong to the usual range of percussion instruments: kazoo, bottles, tuning forks, harmonica, knitting needles, flower pots… Starting by exploring this sound material, she gradually dramatizes it to the point where this already unusual instrumentarium is tossed into a tinkerer's delirium that pushes the limits even further. Rheumics is a sound reflection on percussion itself, where the verb to percolate no longer represents the activity of the musicians alone, but must be enriched by the words to rub, shake, blow, knead… The piece is obviously dedicated to the Percussions de Strasbourg as well as to Michaël Jarrell, François-Bernard Mâche and Fausto Romitelli". Philippe Leroux
Creation : 19/01/2002, Strasbourg, La Laiterie, On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Percussions de Strasbourg, by the Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration: 4' Publishing : Lemoine, Paris, nº 27724
"This piece, dedicated to the Percussions de Strasbourg on the occasion of the anniversary of this group which marked the years of Contemporary Music, is organised around the Tic-Tac d'une horloge. This Tic-Tac, which sings the succession of moments, is expressed by a giant rattle that slowly turns its crenellation. Each jerk caused by the movement of the axis of the rattle is prolonged by a series of echoes caused by maracas and a wide variety of white noises. This "orchestration" of "striated time" is accompanied by the maniacal sound of the drawer of a cash register and the pendulum of a "cracked bell". "Michaël Levinas
Creation : 28 August 2005 at Abbaye de Royaumont Music and conception : Michaël Levinas Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 16' Publishing : Lemoine
This piece written in homage to Fausto Romitelli develops what I call alteration and paradoxical polyphony. 1) Alteration of scales and the Doppler phenomenon in Transir It is about modal scales which evolve by progressive alteration. This principle of slow alteration is inspired by the Doppler phenomenon. It expresses the very essence of temporality which is at the origin of the perception of the TRANSIR form. (beyond the ethno-musicological reference, we can hear this phenomenon of the alteration of scales in Bartok's work, although the formal reference in his work remains the sonata). 2) The paradoxical polyphonies In Transir, the scales are reinterpreted in multiplications of disjointed intervals (the joint movement of the third becoming a tenth etc.) creating polyphonic lines "in contrasting diagonals". These paradoxical polyphonies, which develop a writing style initiated, at home, in my string quintet "Lettres enlacées II", provoke a paradoxical and psycho-acoustic perception of the "steep movements" between registers. This polyphony, which transgresses the "traditional watertightness" of registers and tracks, constitutes "roundabout beams" that are both harmonic and polyphonic. I began to construct this writing and to conceive this auto-genesis between polyphony and "harmonic" from my more strictly instrumental pieces: Rebondset Par delà (1992 and 1994). There is in this conception of alteration and polyphony a "redistribution" of the relationships of the parameters between them, and (for me) an opening of the writing of timbre towards new imaginations. 3) The trance and the process My homage to Fausto Romitelli wants to evoke all those months of nocturnal telephone conversations, while I was writing the overture to The Negroes, and working on the Ligeti studies and The Well-Tempered Keyboard for my recordings at UNIVERSAL. Together we evoked the feeling of "trance", but also the impasses of the overly rigorous spectral process and the limits of the "time limits" of certain Ligeti studies. "The end of these studies are often disappointing", we said. "But what is the cause of these somewhat sad endings?" It is in these exchanges, far from institutional pressures, that I found some of my energy to conceive the "formal time of altered scales" and the interlacing of letters as well as the paradoxical vertigo of the polyphonic-harmonic timbre: a true opening of the writing. If in the opening of the Negroes the polyphony is strictly homophonic on the rhythmic level, in Transir the percussion of the keyboards, allows to introduce in the process of altered scales, desynchronization and a strange mimicry (in this desynchronization) between the harmonic and the inharmonic. It would be a polyphonic mimicry between the tempered timbre and its noisy double. Another modality of alteration. I keep thinking of these nocturnal dialogues with Fausto, between Sanary, Paris, Milan, Gorizia. Trance, he said! In the use of 16th century French, transir also meant to die. Michaël LEVINAS
Creation : 27 September 1988 at Festival Musica (Strasbourg, France) Commissioner : Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication Dedcated to : Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 11'
Isn't percussion the appointed companion of European music? As a companion, it became independent in the 20th century. Ambiguous autonomy. What do we hear in percussion alone? Certainly, all the combinatory richness that is signified by the percussive confinement - as a kind of "abstract" music, an understatement of the musical - but also the euphoria and the sonorous spontaneity of a language that was born in the influence of the first concrete music invented in the studio. We have also witnessed an inflation of particular instruments from non-European cultures. This irruption of percussion in contemporary music confirmed the evolution of several centuries of Western writing, and the liberation of a material apparently too often limited to the role of a rhythm machine, cluttered with memories of virile marches and folklore. Today, however, the progressive mastery of sound through technology might perhaps lead us to reconsider the role of this instrumentarium. How can we apprehend the raw material of instruments often created in musical civilisations that are not based on the thought of writing? Used for their own sake, these instruments also signify the limit of a fundamentally non-Western material, i.e. conceived without any combinatorial technique. This is perhaps the irreducible difference between a violin and a piano on the one hand, and a Balinese gong on the other. Whatever the harmonic richness of this gong, its "malleability" is inherently limited. Unless the sonic virtualities of this gong are made explicit by an orchestra. But isn't there precisely in this raw material offered to composers new ways of exploring the vibration of matter that would no longer be confined to striking? In Voûtes, I worked on the idea of the brilliance of copper caused by swirling falls on reflective surfaces. This is a study of new transients of unrestricted percussive attacks. Moreover, because of its limited character, percussion expresses beyond percussion: what could be called the enigma of sound. Thus the chûue, the brilliance of the brass in the resonance of a vault evokes in me - by acoustic understatement - the brilliance of the voice and laughter. This brass orchestration is supported on the pedal by large Chinese vases that set snare drums vibrating, by sympathy on very precise frequencies. From then on, I rediscover the privilege of the "percussion" material, the interference of one sound body on another, the phenomenon of a shaking and the evocation of breath. Throughout this work, these new transients of attack become like structures of development. The result is a continuous variation on three modes (three short pieces: Copper twirl = sobbing, arching, pulverizing) obtained by the controlled use of metal diameters, characteristics of reflective surfaces, resonance times and speeds of circular chutes. Rhythmic polyphony is no longer limited to scanning. With Voûtes I attempt new writings of "faire-sonner". Michaël Levinas, Août 1988
Creation : 1983 at Académie Sibelius Composition : 1983 Musicians : 1 clarinet and 2 bass drums Duration : 10' Publishing : Wilhelm Hansen
Ablauf (Disclaimer), originally written on the occasion of Lindberg's first monographic concert at the Sibelius Academy on 15 April 1983, was played by clarinettist Kari Kriikku, a member of the Toimii ensemble, in the hall of the concert hall during the intermission. The clarinet part (B-flat clarinet for the first movement, bass clarinet for the second) was meticulously described; the two percussionists, at the ends of the hall, accompanied the soloist with bass drums, as in a primitive ritual. There is only one section where the three musicians meet and play in synchrony, between the two movements of the piece. In 1988, Lindberg revised Ablauf on the occasion of his recording of Kari Kriikku and also added a notation for the percussionists. Risto Nieminen, 'Magnus Lindberg', Les Cahiers de l'Ircam, coll. 'Compositeurs d'Aujourd'hui No. 3'.
Commissioner : Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Creation : 04/10/2000, Festival Musica, Strasbourg Musicians : flûte (small), hautbois, clarinets, bass clarinets (cl. en sib), basson, cor, trompette (picc), trombone ténor-bass, 2 violons, alto, violoncellos, contrebasse (5 cordes), piano, percussion Duration: 27'
Pine Dock, Manitoba (Canada) 7 August 1982 My friend, my brother! I am going to die and I have suffered so much that I am not complaining. Death delivers me from my ordeal. But I never told you about it. I feel that I owe you this last look at my fifty years of life, then… I'm leaving! Happiness: my mother. Her beauty, her beloved face: my world. Our deep love. Until Baden-Baden, 1947: I am fourteen years old. Troubled times, a country ravaged by the recent war. We return home one evening. Drunken English soldiers, looking for culprits, taking my uniform for that of the former Hitler Youth, want to execute me. My mother stands between the rifle and me. I see the bullet going through her head. My world explodes. I go mad. Wanting to die, but living in spite of everything. Then to become other. But is that living? Gathered by distant relatives, I survive. Clinging to science. To become the road engineer you knew. Drawing paths for others; but in me, darkness. 1960 is the miracle: meeting Thérèse, my light and my love. Happiness, life, work side by side. Then five years ago, the accident on the building site. Her face crushed under the unstable rock that no one could have foreseen. To live again years of hell full time. Then recently diagnosed with a brain tumour. My friend, my memory is fading. All that remains are the pains: my two loves torn away, and this violence done to their heads as well as mine. What meaning? I don't know, and I am no longer struggling to understand. I slide towards my end, which is perhaps a new beginning, who knows. But before I leave, I want to tell you: I think of you and in my last breath, I take your extra shadows with me! Live, my brother! Be happy! Forever your friend, Conrad Schleker M.L.
Commissioner : State Dedicated to : Percussions de Strasbourg Creation : 12/01/2013, Montpellier, Salle Pasteur du Corum, by les Percussions de Strasbourg Composition : 2010 Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 22' Publishing : María Sánchez Lucas
From the first page of the Haikus del mar, a polyphony is established which privileges microscopic temporal relations. The initial explosion of sound sparks, comparable to a calm sea illuminated by the sun, aims to parallel sound and light thanks to the light reflections and acute resonances of glockenspiels, vibraphones, metal bars, triangles, bells, etc. The result is an explosion of sound and light. This polyphony in turn shows several levels of speed: resonances of simultaneous attacks by the 6 percussionists, irregular durations that oscillate between 6 s and 12 s - relatively long resonances - to which other textures are superimposed, where one can hear more than 150 attacks per second as well as others between 10 and 30 attacks per second. Let us add to this that the general time of the work constantly changes in a perfectly controlled manner, which allows me to establish particularly precise rhythmic and temporal relationships between the macroform and the microform, between the long and short articulations, between the speeds close to that of light - at least in our poetic sound imagination - and the speeds close to that of sound, in the image of a universe where the infinitely small and the infinitely large remain in close relationship. The course of the work therefore tries to show polyphonic situations and extremely dense sound articulations, as well as others that are perfectly simple, resulting from the filtering of the latter, which allows us to enter into the internal zones of this complex matter, to hear and understand them. During this journey we will also pass through very slow situations, between 25 s and 2 min 30 s, where time stands still, like a calm sea where nothing seems to happen. But, during these seemingly motionless passages, simultaneously, thousands of sound sparks are superimposed: those of a drumstick being struck, those of a small metal bar resting on the body of the instrument, which vibrates for 25 seconds simultaneously with the long vibration of the drumstick; those of ocean drums, rain sticks, bells, etc., etc., etc. The thousands of grains of sand or seeds contained in the latter instruments make their skins and woods vibrate thousands of times a second, creating what are known as granular sounds or textures, which evoke the relationship between the infinitely large and the infinitely small. Finally, I must say that these sound situations, these calculations and mathematical relationships, are only a reflection of the poetic images taken from Japanese seaside haikus. They inspire me and allow me, through their combinations, to place my mind in sound situations otherwise impossible to imagine. A discursive logic and a language on the borderline between science and poetry are thus expressed, in the perfect image of my personal and artistic preoccupations. The work is dedicated to my very dear friends and admired musicians, the Percussionists of Strasbourg. José Manuel López López, Paris 14 novembre 2012
Creation : 30/03/1979, "Perspectives du XXème siècle", Palais des Arts, Paris, France Musicians : 6 percussionists Commissioner : Ministère de la Culture (Direction de la Musique) Dedicated to : les Percussions de Strasbourg Duration : 25'
In Greek, the title means: Air. In Latin: Bronzes. In addition, he assonates with Marae, another work written for the Percussions de Strasbourg in 1974. Aera is essentially based on the harmonic dimension and the superimpositions of time. This harmony has nothing to do with the functions within a tonal or modal system to which tradition has accustomed us. It is rather a play on colours resulting from the mixing of sounds as chemical components. The law that governs the movement of these components is that of an expansion that is always repeated, sometimes on a unanimous rhythm, sometimes on the superimposition of two to six different beats. The absence of ideas in the discursive sense of the term and the particular aptitude of the timbres used to short-circuit reflection in a way, situate "Aera" within the movement of sacred music, without the work however referring to Tibet or Bali. Through an immediate sensory action, it tends to create a particular lucidity, as foreign to hypnosis as to analysis. If the word "clairvoyance" had an equivalent in the realm of sound, one could say that this is what we sought to awaken. François-Bernard Mâche
Creation : 28 September 1990 at Festival Musica (Strasbourg) Muscians : 1 sampler and 5 percussionists Commissioner: Les Caisses d’Epargne Ecureuil d’Alsace Dedicated : "to my daughter Danaé" Publishing : Durand
I had already composed two works for the Percussions de Strasbourg: Maraé in 1974 and Aera in 1978. Their talent made me want to entrust them with a third one, very different from the two previous ones. A solo sampler is combined with the five other percussion instruments. Most of the sampled sounds have been borrowed from the group's instrumentarium, so this sort of "concerto" for keyboard and percussion associates, more than it opposes, the digital instrument and its acoustic neighbours. Khnoum, whose name sounds like a percussion instrument, is an Egyptian ram-god who shaped humanity on his potter's wheel. François-Bernard Mâche
Creation : 25 March 1975 at Festival de Royan (France) Musicians : 6 amplified percussionists and 2 magnetic tracks Duration : 17' Publishing : Durand
This work is a continuation of research begun in 1969 by Rituel d'oubli and marked out by Korwar (1972) and Naluan (1974), among others. These are pieces in which raw sounds recorded and edited practically without manipulation are coloured by an instrumental writing which is essentially a transcription in rigorous synchronicity with its model. The conventional border between nature and culture thus loses much of its importance, and sometimes even fades away completely. Previous works used mostly animal sounds, and pitches were dominant. Here, the chosen sounds are characterised by their complex harmonic structure and internal rhythmic animation. Percussion also excludes instruments with fixed pitches. The word Maraé, borrowed from Polynesia, designated a place of worship, and also evokes the sea in French, by chance of a phonetic resemblance. The work that this word designates is itself a kind of initiatory journey through the wind, the sea, a cave, again the wind, and finally fire.
Commissioner : Radio France and Les Percussions de Strasbourg Creation : 19/01/2002, Strasbourg, La Laiterie, by les Percussions de Strasbourg (France) Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 5' Publishing : Inédit Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg pour leur 40ème anniversaire
Opus : 81 "Vectigal Libens is the result of a commission to honour the Percussions de Strasbourg, with whom I never tire of working, after having written six works for them. This is, moreover, the meaning of the title, which says how pleased I am to have made my contribution to the collective homage paid to them!" François-Bernard Mâche
Creation : 1.12.2001 by les Percussions de Strasbourg and Ju Group Percussion Muscians : 12 percussionists and recorded sounds Stage direction : Michel Rostain State Command Coproduction : Percussions de Strasbourg, Festival 38è Rugissants, Ju Group Percussion, Théâtre de Cornouailles / Scène nationale de Quimper; avec le soutien de l'AFAA, la Ville de Strasbourg, le Council for Cultural Affairs of Taiwan. Duration : 60'
We will share the four seasons: she will have winter and summer, I will have spring and autumn as themes of inspiration. The two groups of musicians will be present together throughout the concert, and the two composers will freely call upon one or the other, making them talk to each other or sometimes associating them. The symbolism of the alternating seasons, and of the feminine and masculine principles (Yin and Yang) correspond to the Chinese imagination, but also to universal references, facilitating the intelligibility of a project where the music will guide from one end of the show to the other. The visual part could, depending on availability, use simple lighting and scenery elements that will help to make the ensemble something clearly different from the ordinary ritual of the concert.
Creation : 23 November 2017, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, France Musicians : 6 percussionnists Duration: 30' Comisionner : Percussions de Strasbourg
"Whiplash, everything could fit in a second. A face to face radical, light silence/sound/darkness hide / show. A time contracted to the extreme in a hanging snap. Vertical time of our society where breaks, bursts, cleavages are commonplace. From the apparent rigor of a court table, to the apparent anarchy of percussions sets, the provocation of extremes, tensions, saturation and a sonic labyrinth that opens up into unexpected, lively and rustling musical spaces."
Creation : 16 May 2009, Festival Les Musiques, Marseille (France) Musicians : clarinette, basson, violoncelle, trois percussions et électronique Comissioner : Ministère de la Culture, GMEM
Shel(l)ter is a cycle of four pieces that refers to a very specific space, one of Berlin's atomic shelters. The repetition of the letter "l" condenses the words "shell" and "shelter", which evoke the attempt to protect the body from aggression. But "shell" also means a shell, and the double polarisation of the word underlines the absurdity, constant in human beings, of constructing both objects of destruction and objects that would protect against that destruction. Placed inside parentheses, this repeated "l" indicates both a stop and the bifurcation or transformation of a repeated element, a rupture, a mutation of the structure of a given material or situation, as well as a separation or confinement, the self-destructive perverse effect that any protection is also likely to induce when it leads to isolation. In Shel(lter, we could speak of "nanomusic" (a reference to the nanosciences that observe and manipulate objects on an atomic scale), insofar as this mobility and this transformation of the properties of the musical fabric are the result of microprocesses that act on sound particles, generating variations in mass, shape and path, but also resistance or persistence. The atomic thus reminds us that everything is particle, everything is atom, the sound field being only one of the possibilities of the infinite field of matter. In this first piece of the cycle, the subtitle später… ( ) … Winter - which in German means "later … ( ) … Winter" refers to the hypotheses of a nuclear winter following the explosion of several bombs. According to the models proposed by scientists, in such a situation, large quantities of smoke and ash, generated by the combustion of plastics and petroleum-based fuels, would be injected into the earth's atmosphere and produce such a climatic state. The formation of a layer of particles would significantly reduce solar radiation. Thick black clouds would then form and absorb light, inducing extremely cold weather conditions. The piece revolves around this dialectic between, on the one hand, an extreme disturbance of musical matter, phenomena that mimic nuclear fusion, fission or chain reaction, and on the other hand - mainly with electronics - an elastic coagulation of sound masses that slide like lava flows, and can evoke the unstable layers described by geology, or a ground collapse, as well as a state of psychic trauma experienced as a kind of temporal suspension, a freezing of mental faculties or the impression of an inner capsizing. Nuclear fission is the phenomenon in which a large atomic nucleus disintegrates into several smaller fragments, with a neutron emission that releases a very high level of energy. In the chain reaction, each neutron emitted during the fission of an atomic nucleus can in turn cause the fission of another nucleus, and this process can then multiply. An A-bomb is designed to deliberately set off a chain reaction, so the music is "atomic". It is the result of an assembly of infinitely small particles that form compact objects that, as energy accumulates, explode in the sound space and disseminate their components. It is also "genetic". The upheavals induced in matter are reminiscent of those that can be described on a chromosomal level, with the possibility of replication errors, breaks, permutations of microelements. All these minute modifications then generate deformations and new (or mutant) forms.
Creation : 03 June 1983, Strasbourg (M.A.L./T.J.P.), Festival Musica, France Composition : 1982 Comissioner : Percussions de Strasbourg Duration : 17'
Intensidad y Altura is a work that, in addition to percussion instruments, requires an electro-acoustic device that plays a recorded tape, synchronised with the percussionists' playing. It is a brilliant, captivating piece whose design - partly repetitive - is organised around a chord of four sound elements that is reminiscent of the traditional seventh chord. The instrumental sounds extend or enrich the colour of the electronic sound, whose pitch is identical to the instrumental sound. The clarity of the score is easily perceptible, and the sound density is all the more present as the recorded tape is diffused in space.
Creation : 15 November 1994, Perpignan, France Comissioner : Perpignan – PRAM Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration : 40'
In November 1970, in Tinta, in the south of Peru, Tupac-Amaru (a descendant of the Inca kings) unleashed the largest revolt ever carried out by the Indians of South America against the despotic and cruel power of the Spanish Conquerors. The Indians had been held practically in slavery and were used as labour in the mines, factories and for domestic services. Tupac-Amaru wanted freedom and self-determination for his people. The revolt was not local, it was felt from Cina to La Paz, and echoed from Colombia to Argentina. Spanish military power was of course superior to the poorly armed and undisciplined Indian armies: the revolt was mercilessly suppressed. Tupac-Amaru fought his last battle in March 1781 and was taken prisoner and led to Cuzco. The Spanish revenge was brutal. The leaders of the revolt and their families were systematically exterminated. On 18 May 1871, Tupac-Amaru, his wife, uncle, eldest son and other supporters were publicly executed in the Plaza de Cuzco, where a large crowd had gathered. First of all, his supporters were hanged. Then his uncle, his son and his wife had their tongues ripped out and were strangled or hanged. Finally, they also cut out Tupac-Amaru's tongue and tied his limbs to four horses that rode in all four directions. As his body was not torn apart despite their repeated attempts, he was beheaded. The torsos of Tupac-Amaru and his wife were then reduced to ashes, while their extremities and heads were sent to their city for public display. Los Funerales is the music of a ceremony that never took place: the funeral of José-Gabriel Tupac-Amaru and those who died with him in the Plaza de Cuzco.
Creation : 11 April 1973, Les percussions de Strasbourg, France, La Rochelle, 2èmes Rencontres internationales d'art contemporain de La Rochelle State Command Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 43'
Creation : 04 October 1995, Festival Musica, Strasbourg Composition : 1995 Commanditaire : Ministère de la Culture Dédicataires : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Effectif : 6 percussionnistes jouant des peaux Durée : 10’
Styx (the name of a flow that was once feared, with a six but also the English word styx), a score where a sound - a quasi-noise - vibrating, undulating, running like a flow, will have to go through six situations: 1- Introduction : A continuous sound vibrating in the high register, where we will later know that here Damnation was inaugurated (said G.P. in his novel La disparition). 2- Scissions : The unison oscillating from furtive to noise (fortissimo) until it is divided by six. 3- Ramifications : An abounding course, the plumbing at first constrained by the dominant unison frees itself - more or less lively profiles in three voices, sometimes six - abolishing any milestone, provoking collisions or illusions to end up with a deeper sound, then a jump for a moment but which ends in a blank, a hole. 4- Circumvolutions : Propagation of the sound swirling all around the device (six circles not quite closed), circulations fixing its horizon, showing the end. Climax. Then a throbbing flow weakening until omission… no sound. 5- Coda : End of a course then lowering to the lowest point, imitations, stratifications too, but always without figurations (not a rhythm in the composition). 6- Post-scriptum : A start forming a motif? No, a final point.
Creation : 4 October 2014, au Festival Musica Duration : 15'
Pedagogical work performed by non-musical students, supervised by Les Percussions de Strasbourg according to the Percustra pedagogy.
"This project was born from an old memory", explains Philippe Manoury, "The Percussions de Strasbourg asked me, more than thirty years ago, to write a work for amateurs using their Percustra notation system, a system that allows you to play percussion without having learned solfeggio. (…) It is only recently that I remembered that this method could very well be brought up to date again and I then proposed to set up a project aimed at involving young people (high school students) by having them play music for percussion using this method."
Creation : 27 September 1988 at Festival Musica (Strasbourg) Musicians : 1-6 percussionists Dedicated to : Percussions de Strasbourg Comissioner : Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication Publishing : Durand
Le Livre des Claviers comprises six relatively short pieces for the various keyboard games in percussion. Techniques related to keyboards have developed quite widely during the 20th century. If one compares Debussy's use of the xylophone with that of Messiaen and then Boulez, one can see a real breakthrough, leading him (including marimba and xylomarimba) to a real soloist's role. In recent years, however, continuous playing techniques with four sticks have pushed the possibilities even further. It is not a question of developing a technique, but of achieving musical configurations that were still impossible a few years ago: polyphony, and the succession of chords of different natures in a certain speed. This greatly motivated my choice of keyboards. On the other hand, the construction of new acoustic instruments such as the sixens has enabled me to tackle new cases in the sense that the notion of pitch is no longer predominant, or rather, is becoming more complex.
Piece I: 2 marimbas (2 players per instrument), 2 x 3 Thai gongs Study on an ostinato accentuated in an irregular manner. Chords distributed according to six criteria of density and harmonic polarisation, alternate according to irregular periodicities. The gongs mark the changes in harmonic configurations.
Piece II: Duo of marimbas (1 player per instrument) Twenty-six sequences make up this piece, ranging from amorphous structures (simple glissandi), through intermediate states (broken but directional lines) to sequences completely polarised around the centre. In this music, made of dots connected by lines, I have favoured a "cast" play that can simulate legato phrasing by the high speed with which certain lines must be played.
Piece III : Sextet of sixens The instruments, not being tuned to the same pitches, and moreover not having precise pitches (inharmonicity), it is at the level of the melodic movements (ascending and descending) and the rhythmic configurations that unity will be created, sometimes. Polyrhythmics and homorhythmics are the extreme axes of this piece, sometimes playing on rhythmic gradations (superimposition of six layers derived from each other, going from the most equal to the most irregular).
Piece IV: Vibraphone solo A textual variation of a basic structure, intersected in several places by a virtuoso and regular element. In addition to the four-stick techniques, I have developed here a technique that consists of smothering with the hand some blades while others still resonate. In this way, a harmonic stability can be maintained around which more ephemeral chords gravitate, thus creating a polyphonic texture. Piece V: 2 marimbas (2 players per instrument), 2 x 3 Thai gongs Amplification of piece I. The same basic material (actually a canon) is seen from various angles: harmonic instability or stability, different periodicities. The reunion of the two players (with four sticks) on the same instrument gives an extremely rich harmonic density.
Piece VI: Sixens Sextet More complex than Piece III, the latter plays mainly on the notion of "thickness of sound" where the same sound doubled to 2, 4 or 6 parts will create a "restraining" effect on the tuning of the instruments. Homorhythmic sequences, polyphonic states and global textures are constantly enriched, moving from the simplest to the most complex state.
Creation : 07 November 1995, la Villette (Paris) Musicians : 6 percussionists Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Comissioner : Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication Duration : 25' Publishing : Durand
There is a great deal of research activity in the field of electro-acoustic sounds. I have been involved in it for a long time and still am. This forces my imagination to consider music in a different way from that offered to me by traditional instruments. This raises new questions about the way of looking at "sound" in relation to those that have been bequeathed to me by tradition. These questions are the very foundation of the composer's work. What is the meaning of harmony? How to conceive a melodic discourse? What is the place of rhythm in such a context? However, it is always through loudspeakers that the results of these questions are revealed. Loudspeakers can do what instruments cannot, but instruments, on the other hand, can do what loudspeakers cannot. They have an acoustic radiation that electric diaphragms lack. Their charm lies elsewhere. From this point of view, the sixens are, in addition to being the most successful in the creation of acoustic instruments of our time, the instruments that can bring together the most current musical concerns with instrumental practice. It is not a question of producing real pitches, but pitch complexes. Melodies, harmonies, rhythms and polyphonies become variable data that have to be rethought according to different categories. Nothing is more stimulating than to engage an expression that needs to be reformulated. It is not a matter of "wiping the slate clean" but of rethinking the writing in the light of a different sound reality. I think we should now take a serious look at such issues. I very often imagine that there is a lot of potential in the discovery of acoustic instruments that offer new questions. It is not the death of the loudspeaker - by "loudspeaker" I mean of course all the work that is done beforehand - but rather the influence of the loudspeaker on acoustic instrument making that is at stake. In 1989, I had written two sextet of sixens in my cycle of the Book of Keyboards. These two pieces are here merged in Métal, a vast composition that draws conclusions and amplifies what was only experimental at the time. Since the instruments are not tuned to a single form and do not sound the same when struck on the piano or forte, the play of resemblances, responses, mirrors, oppositions or polyrhythms is highly complex. Every sound body used by the composer is a musical instrument, as Berlioz prophetically wrote in his Treatise on Instrumentation and Orchestration. I would not be angry if I could prove, today, that he was devilishly right''.
Créeation : 23 September 2006, Strasbourg, festival Musica, by the Rhine National Opera Orchestra Comisionner: The French state and the Rhine National Opera Orchestra Direction : Bernhard Kontarsky Stage direction : Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota Musicians: 6 percussionists, with choir and orchestra Duration: 2h15' Publishing : Lemoine, nº 28270, 2006
Bruno Mantovani approaches his first opera at almost thirty-two years of age with the ambition of restoring to the fantasy of Alfred Kubin's novel (1877-1959) its original force and narrative strangeness. The Other Side, a fable without morals, stages the Empire of the Dream, an absurd refuge from all progress, which plunges into chaos after having been removed from the dictatorship of its leader Patera. An admirable and visionary tale, accompanied by the author's frightening illustrations, it left its mark on the literary and artistic Central Europe of the early 20th century. Bruno Mantovani, associated with the playwright François Regnault and the director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, seeks to make the perpetual movement of this collapse. The orchestra is vast and brilliant, including six percussion instruments whose role is to widen the sound space. The choir - this swarming mass close to Kubin's apocalyptic images - mobilizes and animates the stage. Finally, the solo roles are distributed around the narrator, Alfred Kubin himself, the central character swept away in this never-ending drama. This world premiere is the unifying element of the portrait devoted to the young French composer by Musica, in collaboration with the Opéra national du Rhin.
Creation : 27 August 2008 at Abbaye de Royaumont, France Musicians : 4 percussionists + 1 flautist Duration: 13' Publishing : Lemoine
Composed with the support of the Sacem as part of the centenary of the birth of André Jolivet, Un souffle pays homage to this composer's "Suite en concert" by taking up his training again (one flute and four percussion instruments). It is a tribute in terms of the number of musicians, but also a musical tribute, as the piece refers to the notion of ritual, so dear to Jolivet. Indeed, in the first part of the work, a haunting periodicity made of tiles between the different instruments underpins the discourse. The gyratory aspect of the discourse is then progressively put into abyss by the flute, which leaves this weft logic to introduce figures, at first very pointillistic, then increasingly complex. It is the progressive birth of these figures that will allow the music to shift towards an assertive pulsating energy, itself a generator of imbalance when a process of shifting different strata appears. The work ends in a restless contemplation, in a statism disturbed by brief elements evoking the sound morphologies typical of electroacoustic work.
Creation : 19 January 1999, Espace Rohan, Saverne, by the Children of Sarre-Union schools and Les Percussions de Strasbourg Comisionner : DRAC Alsace, for Les Percussions de Strasbourg and the Association des Oeuvres scolaires de Sarre-Union Musicians : 6 percussionists et 50 children Duration : 30’ Publishing : Ed. Musicales Transatlantiques Composition : 1998
"Each percussionist accompanies, directs and supports a group of children, and the professional adult guides the youngest on the path of music in a form of initiation to the basic elements of collective musical practice: rhythmic precision, listening to others, control of sound and time, sense of space, etc…. The children present here have not had, at least most of them, any musical training and therefore do not read music. To help them memorise simple rhythmic sequences, I have chosen to use several nursery rhymes from our popular heritage. These have accompanied children since the dawn of time in their learning of collective life through play, narration or the memory of words. As their name indicates, they are mainly used for counting, using often obscure formulas (Am-stram-gram…) and rhythmically characteristic. At the same time, they constitute a reserved domain of the child where the adult, representing reason, remains a priori removed from a phantasmagorical and supposedly absurd universe where the mouse is green and the pig lays eggs. Poetry is certainly not absent, quite the contrary, whereas the concern for meaning often gives way to the charms of alliteration and rhyme (Moustachi, Moustacha, closes the door because of the cat). In short, to music… »
Creation : 7 July 1971, Grenade, Spain, Music and Dance Festival, Patio de los Leones, in La Alhambra Commissioner : General Commissioner for Music for the "10 Days of Music" in Toledo Duration: 18' Musicians: 6 percussionists Publishing : Salabert
Necronomicón is one of Tomás Marco's plays that combines a magical but terrifying context. In fact, the title of the work is inspired by the nightmarish world of Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Necronomicón is a treatise of fiction, imagined by the American writer, whose etymology refers to the laws of the dead. The title suggests an atmosphere of necromancy with its implicit rituals, a powerful image that is consistent with the almost ceremonial distribution of the six percussionists who play the work, almost inviting a complementary staging. In fact, the subtitle of the piece is a sort of note of intent: "Choreography for six drummers". Necronomicón was premiered at the Alhambra during the Granada Festival by Les Percussions de Strasbourg, who performed it all over the world during the 1970s. According to the composer, in his programme note for the creation of the work, 'there is a very strict formal work that can even be observed in the instrumental economy of each section'. This conceptual formalism contrasts with the rather indeterministic writing of the sextet: the notation of durations is very approximate, and the composer delegates to the musicians the choice of pitches for instruments such as the marimba or the vibraphone. The sextet can be divided into four parts numbered by the composer but continuously linked together. The sextet can be divided into four parts, numbered by the composer but continuously linked. The first is devoted to metal instruments, the second to wooden percussion and the third to skins, to finally arrive at a final section bringing together an arsenal of instruments of all types. Necronomicón thus shifts from the delicate and hieratic colours of the beginning, in a way evocative of electronic sounds - combining three excited tam-tams with a bow, two tam-tams immersed in water and twelve Thai gongs - to the rhythmic whirlwind of the end, reinforced by the sounds of sirens.
Creation : 30 September 2005, Festival MUSICA, Strasbourg State Command Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 12’ Publishing : Durand Composition : 2005
A single architectural structure forms the basis of Network. Crossed, straight, suspended, dilated or compressed temporal movements constitute its internal and vital activity. And, as its name suggests, the elements that make up this piece maintain a network of more or less close relations between them. Network is dedicated to the memory of Fausto Romitelli, from whose work I have drawn certain musical objects and the interplay of intervals and harmonics that make up the material of this piece. I also couldn't help thinking of the states of trance to which Fausto would so often refer in his work, and which resulted in his fascinating conception of the phenomenon of repetition.
Creation : 25 May 2016, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, France Duration : 15'
Aurélien Marion-Gallois has composed two works for two Percustra workshops that will take place from November 2015 to May 2016 in schools. The first one, supervised by François Papirer, took place with the 5th B class of the Erasme college. The second one, supervised by Keiko Nakamura, with the CE1/CE2 class from Ecole Jacqueline. As a composer, the main challenge of the PERCUSTRA project is that Percussions De Strasbourg - inseparable from the cultural activity of the city of Strasbourg, with its strong involvement in musical creation - offers the possibility for children who are not initiated to music to get to know, access and participate in this activity. Through an instrumentarium accompanied by new technologies and through a theme based on the four elements (Fire-Air-Earth-Water), my intervention consists, through an intuitive and playful approach (in the form of musical games allowing an assimilation of certain musical gestures and thus favouring a better approach and understanding of the language of contemporary music) to prepare the pupils in the execution and realisation of a musical composition. An open score, with spaces to be filled in, will be proposed to them in order to lead them both to the interpretation of previously conceived musical structures and at the same time to the discovery, research, formalisation and musical realisation of an idea that will be proposed to them. Accompanied by François Papirer and Keiko Nakamura (members of the Percussions de Strasbourg), we will try to make them aware of the importance of listening to sound; music is: feeling, listening and then playing.
Creation : 27 August 2005, Abbaye de Royaumont, France Commissioner : Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians : 6 percussions and audio-video equipment Duration : 30’
Time Ballet brings the percussionists' sextet into dialogue with a virtual set of imaginary instruments, created and broadcast by computer. Obsessive rhythms, repeated motifs and homorhythmic encounters articulate this musical dialogue. This relationship allows me to explore a certain number of particular musical situations: the multiplied instrumental gesture and its sound consequences; games of disruption with the codes of visual perception; superimposed musical beats. Divided into three distinct movements, the piece evolves in a disordered, dreamlike temporal space composed of separate layers that continually move away, come closer and collide.
Creation : 02 October 2004, Abbaye de Royaumont, France Commissioner : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Percussions de Strasbourg, Jacques Dudon : disque photosonique, Michel Moglia : orgue à feu Musicians: 6 percussionists, orgue à feu Duration: 50'
Since 1993, I have composed a series of pieces especially for large-scale stage spaces across Europe and America, Music for Concert Halls, which explores the relationship between sound and architectural space, where music becomes a function of the building and the building is incorporated into the compositional modus operandi. The musical activity is perceived in three dimensions, interacting with the acoustic phenomenon of the concert hall, and extending beyond the stage, beyond the auditorium, and into the sound space. The works are conceived as concert installations, except that the audience takes its usual place and the art "object" is live and acoustic. There is really no specific site (in the sense of the 1960s artistic term), the pieces can be performed in any concert hall. But these pieces are special for each venue in each concert, in the sense that each chosen venue deserves to be used and celebrated for its own idiosyncrasy and specificity. The hall is as important as the performers and the composition. Here, in the magnificent surroundings of Royaumont and in the extraordinary Refectory, this is one of the rare and exciting occasions when I can write for a space that was not originally intended to be a concert hall. Presence and Penumbrae is at once an installation, an exhibition, an artistic performance, a play and a concert. I am grateful to Les Percussions de Strasbourg for their collaboration and enthusiasm in exploring this idiosyncratic instrumentarium of instruments outside "my own culture", unusual instruments and experimental instruments newly invented and designed or proposed by me to other instrument makers and inventors. However, there is nothing new under the sun. Every instrumentarium is always dependent on the laws of acoustics … and economics. However, economy has forced me to reduce sound materials to the simplest and most effective sound objects in order to explore the purest and most basic acoustic phenomenon. For example, vibrational longitude, Helmholtz resonators (or instruments built to be resonators), long vibrating strings, all kinds of harmonics, vibrating tubes, beats, doppler, first reflection of ancient sounds, reverberation time, speed of sound and many other things. There is also a lot of subjectivity, but for me, the most poetic phenomena come from these instruments, such as presence and silence. A sound that is born beyond silence can exist in the imagination, or in reality in a hesitant border between the inside and outside of the imagined silence, and the real or imagined sound. The moment it ceases to be imagined and begins to be identified as sound is crucial - opening up a concentration of perpetual space by giving the listener more freedom to imagine - to penetrate the poetry of sound. That said, the composition must always be the initial inspiration rather than the instruments themselves: I have always approached composition and the search for meaning in order to achieve the perceptible acoustic musical result. There is of course a duty as a composer (a duty since time immemorial) to write practically for instruments that work well, older instruments dictating too many constraints or inspiring other musical considerations by the virtues of their charm or whims. I always find that the simplest things are the most difficult. Beautiful things are not fully accomplished without effort. Things have to be prepared carefully and patiently, in pre-rehearsal, rehearsal and performance.
Then shadow and light, lines and angles start to speak and the music, too, starts to be heard, that hidden music that cannot be heard. In terms of the instruments of the world, my interest is that of a composer, but with no desire to borrow and intertwine cultural crossings. I am interested in timbre and pure acoustics - the emotionless material quality of a tube, a string, a resonator and many others. Wherever it comes from, the purest effect will be unique. I also think my approach differs somewhat from Kagel's in Acustica. Another reason for exploring unusual traditional instruments is that today we have the whole world at our fingertips, which is ironic since at the same time so much seems to be carelessly lost or forgotten. Musical cultures and their extraordinary instruments vary in unimaginable ways. Their survival is uncertain and random - everything seems doomed to a chaos of conflicting variables, sometimes at the whim of global inattention. An instrument may go extinct, its practitioners die and it is condemned to decay in a glass box, and the more it decays, the more it becomes "untouchable", condemned by curators to become an artifact, rather than a living thing that can be restored and brought back to life. At the other extreme, if this instrument is "lucky", it can be recovered by Hollywood and become a New Age star. The durability of an instrument can be solved by making copies of it. Although the contemporary methods of manufacturers in the sector are rarely documented conscientiously and with great accuracy by ethnomusicologists, they are surely an essential part of the cultural equation and a necessary part of an ethnological work, if not a duty. Finally, I am particularly happy to welcome Jacques Dudon and Michel Moglia who have become virtuosos of the instruments they invented, thus admirably demonstrating how great is the field of instruments and acoustics that man can explore. I would like to thank Robert Hébrard for his support and investment (many instruments were designed by him), Marie Picard and Danielle Laurent for their clay instruments, Jeff Barbe for the reeds and the whistle flutes, the CRA site (Compagnie Roland Auzet) for the loan of the vibrazwang, Makoto Yabuki (of the Bamboo Orchestra) for the Bowed Boos, Jacques Dudon for the idea of the resonator bottle, Fred Gramman and The American Church in Paris for the loan of the hand bells. Finally, the piece can also be considered a concerto for stage managers, another virtuoso role. Laurent Fournaise and his team also gave an incredible performance!
Creation : 12 January 2011, France, Théâtre d'Orléans, by Christopher Falzone : piano and Les percussions de Strasbourg. Comissioner : Orléans International Piano Competition, with the support of the Centre Regional Council Musicians 6 percussionists Duration : 37' Publishing : Gérard Billaudot
Creation : 19 January 2002, Strasbourg, La Laiterie, by Les Percussions de Strasbourg, France. Commissioner : Les Percussions de Strasbourg for the 40th anniversary of the ensemble Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 4’ Publishing: Max Eschig
"A piece to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Percussions de Strasbourg: snare drums (sometimes one, sometimes four), intertwine in phrases and wriggling rhythms drawing a light and sparkling texture like bubbles of champagne… above, my keyboards light up fireworks… below, a timpani marks time like one who has drunk one cup too many…".
Creation : 3 June 2018, Opéra de Reims, France Commissioner : Voix de Stras' Coproduction : Centre national de création musicale Césaré Duration : 14' Musicians : 4 singers, real-time electronic equipment (and 4 percussionists)
"Vocal writing in textures and counterpoints around the multiple sounds of the voice, words, bits of words, syllables, consonants, articulations, stretched and modulated sounds… Add computer analysis and sound processing - a computer picks up the sound to extract attack transients, vowels, words, voice colours, pitches, "noises". These elements are taken up, repeated, triturated, combined - juxtaposed with sounds transformed in real time, re-synthesized, sequenced, deconstructed, recombined… Is nonsense really meaningless, without silence, without sound? Nonsense. » Tom Mays (between Strasbourg and Marseille, June 2016)
The play will be premiered in its final version in the show Derrière la luette by Voix de Stras' at the Reims Opera on June 3, 2018 as part of the Matinées contemporaines de Césaré, CNCM de Reims.
Creation : 15 March 2018, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, France Musicians: 4 percussionists and real time electronic equipment Duration : 5'
Commissioned especially for Live @ Home #11, Unvoiced is designed as a parallel dimension to the voices of Nonsense. We go "through the looking glass" to speak only with the sounds and resonances of percussion - wood, metal, skins, and small objects. The sounds of the four performers are picked up by an electronic device, also played live, which analyses, transforms and increases them in real time to create "hyper instruments" that are neither acoustic nor electronic, but hybrid sounds producing unreal sounds. Hearing acts as a "zoom" in the sound and what was then inaudible becomes sound… Tom Mays
Creation : 9 September 2000, Fondation Royaumont, Festival Voix Nouvelles Commissioner : State Command for the Royaumont Foundation Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 15’ Publishing : Inedit
The Home Organs room is modelled on the recovery of memory in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease; the refrains of childhood unfold freely, while more or less functional memories are removed. The title Home Organs contains both Home and Organs. If the word 'organ' in English means both 'organ' and 'organs' (like the lung), the word 'home' has a life of its own, whose meaning ranges from the banal reality of a suburban dwelling to the speculative and essentialist idea of a 'floor', a place to which one 'belongs'. Here the word "home" is understood in a more mobile way than in the first sense, and in a more flexible way than in the second. The name, Home Organs, is given to any instrument, other than the piano, that can be found in a suburban house in Australia: harmonium, casio, yamaha, etc. The name is given to any instrument, other than the piano, that can be found in a suburban home in Australia: harmonium, casio, yamaha, etc. Enjoying a certain popularity among my grandmother's generation, the home organ occupies a little-known place in the genealogy of instruments built for the purpose of making music in the home. My grandmother is as much affected by Alzheimer's disease as she is by the immediate beauty of the domestic organ.
Creation : 9 April 1968, Ensemble Musique vivante, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, direction Diego Masson, Royan International Contemporary Art Festival Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration : 15' Publishing : Leduc
Creation : 27 June 2017, Festival Manifeste / IRCAM, CentQuatre, salle 400, Paris, France Effectif : two women's voices, three percussions and solo viola Duration : 30' Commissioner : assistance in writing an original new musical work from the Ministry of Culture and Communication Dedicated to Géraldine Aïdan, to his being and his words Éditions : Durand-Salabert-Eschig, Universal Music Publishing Booklet : Renverse du souffle, Paul Celan.
Composition notebooks (extracts) Niemand zeugt für den Zeugen.  Paul Celan
There is no art of the Shoah. In fact, any testimony on the Shoah transcends art. The Survivor of Warsaw, If it's a man, The Fugue of Death: by saying the Shoah, they sublimate the quality of a work of art. Dig up the syllables. There is no art in the camps either. Terezin's music is no longer music. Primo Levi writes that music was heard in Auschwitz as one of the sounds of the dead. This is probably the reason why the music of the camps could not be heard by the survivors. The refusal of the survivors to listen to Wagner's music is less a matter of the antisemitism of the author than of his interference with the sounds of Horror and Evil. What gives rise to one of these paradoxes, therefore history is customary: Jewish musicians have set themselves the task of rehabilitating Wagner's music, of separating it from the sounds of Evil and of making it heard in the territories where the survivors had found refuge. The poetry of Celan is a poetry of otherness. There is not a page or almost a page that does not contain calls to be on first-name terms. This address unites Celan's poems and letters: a tireless search for the other. In this otherness lies one of the possibilities of setting Celan's verse to music: to set a poem to music is not only to dig out its syllables and alliterations, it is to dig out its calls. Digging into otherness. The two voices of Dein Gesang are also the "I" and the "you" of Martin Buber and Paul Celan. The philosopher and translator Stéphane Moses identifies and defines a "form of dialogical writing" in Celan's poetry from the collection of poems written in Vienna (1947). Heidegger's Silence Celan's Music Celan's Voice, when he reads The Fugue of Death. The presence of this voice. No one testifies for the witness. But the text. But the memory of the voice of the text, the voice of its author. Stéphane Mosès notes Celan's "extreme musicality of language". He writes: "Celan's translation is remarkable in that it remains as faithful as possible to the sounds of the original, while constituting a new poem that seems independent of its source. The sound of Celan's poetry is also the background of the syllables Celan digs out: "The buried snow". Complementary device: a large imaginary keyboard, at first, in front of a curtain of sounds with wide resonance and indeterminate pitch. Two female voices encircle a viola which catalyzes the ensemble. The two voices embody the otherness omnipresent in Celan's poetry. These two voices are also those of the indeterminacy of language. In what language does Celan write? Translator and poet? Celan abolishes the boundaries of poetic categories and professions. Two voices become one. They are two parts of the same body. Kaddish Celan's trajectory is not only suicide camps, that "traumatic horizon" of which Stéphane Mosès speaks. The question of Judaism gives another meaning to the pain of this trajectory. Celan rediscovered Israel, thanks to Ilana Shmueli. To say that Jerusalem is. To say the link to Israel, which is becoming stronger. Saying openness. To say the meaning Celan attributes to the imperishable memory of Horror.
Creation : 23 November 2016, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, France Musicians : 6 percussionists electroacoustic Duration : 23' Commissioned by SWR Freiburg
Composed in 2011-12, for the 50th anniversary of the Percussions de Strasbourg and in collaboration with the Experimentalstudio SWR Freiburg, this work for percussion and electronics contains a rather complex "staging". The various instruments are arranged on the letter M written on stage, the M of my name Menezes, as I was also 50 years old in 2012. Hence its title: the Italian word S(c)enario (/ʃeˑnario/ with "c", but also /seˑnario/ without "c") has a double meaning. It refers to the well-elaborated scenario of the instruments, but also to Gioseffo Zarlino's "numero senario" - which is the number 6 (historical formation of the Percussions de Strasbourg). Between several of Zarlino's arguments for this number in his treatise Le Istitutioni Harmoniche (1558), he quotes in chapter 14 of part one ("Che dal numero Senario si comprendeno molte cose della natura dell'arte") Plato's description of space: "according to Plato the number 6 refers to the different positions: over, under, in front, behind, to the right and to the left" . This definition was decisive for the conception of space in my piece, with a more important central position (the only one that is with electronics and on which all the soloists of the ensemble play during the work), this position being considered as a kind of sacred place.
 «Et sei, secondo Platone, le differenze delli Siti, overo positioni; Sù, Giù, Avanti, Indietro, Destro, Sinistro» (Gioseffo Zarlino. Le Istitutioni Harmoniche. A Facsimile of the 1558 Venice Edition. New York: Broude Brothers, 1965, p. 24).
Creation : 2014 Musicians : for two percussionists, electronics and video. Video : Alessandra Bochio. Real-time composition and electronics : Felipe Merker Castellani
Interaction spaces is created by extending granular processing to several levels: at the level of sound morphologies, generated by writing or electronic processing, as well as at the level of visual operations carried out in real time. The course of time is marked by a succession of transformation processes of the various complex audiovisual textures.
Creation: 30 October 1963, concert at the Domaine Musical dedicated to the memory of Roger Désormière, Théâtre de l'Odéon, Paris, by Yvonne Loriod (piano), Domaine Musical ensemble, conducted by Pierre Boulez. Dedicated To Yvonne Loriod, Pierre Boulez, Madame Fumi Yamaguchi, conductor Seiji Ozawa, composers Yoritsuné Matsudaïra, Sadao Bekku, and Mitsuaki Hayama, ornithologist Hoshino, landscapes, music, and all the birds of Japan. Effectif: Soloist: 1 piano2 flutes, 2 oboes, 1 English horn, 3 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, 1 marimba, 1 xylophone, 1 set of cencerros, 1 set of rattlesnakes, 1 triangle, 18 bells, 2 Turkish cymbals, 2 gongs, 1 Chinese cymbal, 2 tam-tams, 8 violins.
Titles of parts
Nara Park and stone lanterns
Miyajima and the torii in the sea
Birds of Karuizawa
Genesis of the work
This work was written in 1962 following a trip to Japan. It does not include a poem: the title Haïkaï only indicates that the seven pieces are short, like the Japanese poems of the same name.
Analysis of the seven pieces
I. Introduction By the cencerros, bells, trumpet, trombone and metal percussion: rhythms from India dedicated to the three Shakti. The piano and woodwinds make a retrograde rhythmic canon. Xylophone and marimba make a metabole, from tâla simhavikrama (lion strength) to tâla miçra-varna (mixture of colours). The violins play a melodic phrase, of which only the first stanza is heard (the second stanza being reserved for the seventh piece).
II. Nara Park and stone lanterns Japan. Nara region. Four Buddhist temples. A Park. Deer and hinds roam freely there.
III. Yamanaka-Cadenza The birds singing in this play were heard in the forest near Lake Yamanaka, at the foot of Mount Fuji.
IV. Gagaku Gagaku (Gagakou) is the noble music of 7th century Japan. It is still practised at the imperial court.
V. Miyajima and the torii in the sea Perhaps the most beautiful landscape in Japan. An island, a mountain covered with dark green Japanese pines and maples (red in autumn). A Shinto temple, white and red. In the blue sea, opening onto the invisible (i.e. the real temple), a large red portico or TORII.
VI. Birds of Karuizawa The birds singing in this room were heard around Karuizawa, in a landscape of mountains and Japanese pines. Some of them were noted in the forest, near a gorge and a small stream, not far from the Asama volcano. a) Uguisu (Ougouhisse), Japanese bushwhacker. Uguisu is entrusted to the trumpet and the woods. b) Hototoguisu (Hototogouhisse), small grey headed cuckoo. Entrusted to the trombone, bassoons and bass clarinet. c) Kibitaki, Narcissus flycatcher. Kibitaki is played by the four clarinets and also by xylophone and marimba. d) Oruri (O-louli), Japanese blue flycatchers. e) Aoji (Aôdji), Japanese masked bunting. f) San kô chô (Sane-koo-tchio), Japanese Paradise flycatcher. San kô chô is played by xylophone and marimba. g) Kuro tsugumi (Koûleu-tsougoumi), Japanese blackbird. Varied song, different from the European blackbird. h) Mejiro (Medjile) zosterops from Japan. The first piano cadenza uses: Binzui (Binetzoui): Hodgson's Pipit. The second cadenza: O-yoshikiri (O-iochikiri: Eastern Turdoid Rousserolle.
VII. Coda By the cencerros, bells, trumpet, trombone and metal percussion: a continuation of the Indian rhythms dedicated to the three Shakti. The piano and woodwinds take up the retrograde rhythmic canon of the first piece, applying the harmonies of the straight durations to the retrograde durations and vice versa. Xylophone and marimba make a retrograde metabole, from tâla miçra-varna (mixture of colours) to tâla simhavikrama (lion's strength). On the violins: continuation of the melodic phrase of the first piece, the second stanza of which can be heard.
Creation : Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum was premiered in private audition on 7 May 1965 at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. The first public audition took place on 20 June 1965 in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres, under the direction of Serge Baudo. Commissionner : André Malraux, Minister of Culture, for the celebration of the dead of the two World Wars. Musicians : 2 piccolo flutes, 3 flutes, 3 oboes, 1 English horn, 1 small clarinet [in Eb] , 3 clarinet, 1 bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon, 6 horns, 1 piccolo trumpet [in D] , 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 bass trombone, 2 tubas, 6 percussionists Publisher : Alphonse Leduc, nº AL 23681
Titles of the parties
I cry to you, O Lord, from the depths of the abyss: O Lord, hear my voice.
Christ, risen from the dead, dies no more; death has no more dominion over him.
The hour is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God .
They will rise again, gloriously, with a new name - in the joyful concert of the stars and the cheers of the sons of heaven.
And I heard the voice of a great multitude…
Genesis of the work Commissioned by André Malraux to celebrate the dead of the two World Wars, it was written and orchestrated in 1964. It is intended to be performed in vast spaces, churches, cathedrals, in the open air and in high mountains. Messiaen was inspired by the landscapes that surrounded him when he composed it, the High Alps with their mighty mountains, but also imposing images of churches of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and ancient buildings from Mexico or Ancient Egypt. The texts he studied at the time were The Resurrection and the World of the Resurrected of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Analysis of the five pieces "From the depths of the abyss I cry to you, Lord, Lord, hear my voice. "(Psalm 130, v.1 and 2): Theme of depth entrusted to the low brass instruments, harmonization by the 6 horns in coloured complexes, cry from the Abyss! "Christ, risen from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has dominion over him. "(Saint Paul, Epistle to the Romans, chap.6, v.9): Messiaen specifies that the silences in this piece are as important as the music. The trumpet springs from the coloured complexes of the woods. The English horn and clarinet conclude the piece. "The hour is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God… "(Gospel according to Saint John, chap.5, v.25): This voice evoked in the title of the piece is symbolised three times: the first symbol entrusted to the woods, the mysterious song of the Uirapuru, a bird from the Amazon… "They will rise again, glorious, with a new name - in the joyful concert of the stars and the cheers of the sons of heaven. "(St. Paul, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, chap.15, v.43 - Revelation of St. John, chap.2, v.17 - Book of Job, chap.38, v.7): Taking up all the themes of the work, the tam-tams symbolise the solemn moment of the resurrection and the distant melody of the stars. Superimposition of four sound complexes that unite to acclaim the resurrected in their glory. "And I heard the voice of an immense crowd… "(Apocalypse of Saint John, chap.19, v.6): "The tutti of the orchestra and the percussion of the gongs are charged with this choral effect which remains enormous, unanimous and simple. »
Toh is part of a series of pieces for percussion whose influences are drawn from the composer's native East. For a long time unknown, it was rediscovered in the 2000s and recorded in 2007 for the International Percussion Meetings in the United States "Pasics 2007". In this duo, Miki uses instruments from the woodwind family (Mokushos, claves, etc.) and skins (Japanese drums), which inevitably refer to the ancestral musical tradition of Noh theatre. His writing technique uses accelerandi and ralenti, the play of questions/answers and cadences leaving the musicians a flexibility of interpretation.
Creation : pieces 1 to 5 : 17 January 1998 at La Cité de la Musique of Paris ; pieces 6 to 14 : 5 May 2000 at Hippodrome de Douai. Commandes : pieces 1 to 5 : Percussions de Strasbourg / Cité de la Musique of Paris ; pieces 6 to 14 : French State and Hippodrome de Douai. Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 60' CD: Recorded on 8 and 9 September 2001 in Strasbourg / 2001 Musidisc France 1. Handwurst / 2. Pickled-Herring / 3. Chimpanz de Capelin / 4. Pantalon / 5. Jean Potage / 6. Triboulet / 7. Jack Pudding / 8. Jean Farine / 9. Pagliacio / 10. Jimmy Warner / 11. Bobeche / 12. Galimafré / 13. Chocolat / 14. Chico, fou du roi.
Bibilolo is a game. Babbling, playing with sounds, juggling, pleasure dominates. Clean, animal or totally saturated sounds. There are also sounds of "memory", those that may remind you of pygmy or Irish music. I wanted a free space, something that could be invented. I was no longer afraid and I forgot the need to justify a "serious" work. But I am no less consistent. I became once again the child (dedicating this piece to my first son), the one who plays with objects without wondering where it comes from, and even if certain pseudo melodies have already been heard somewhere, I take them up again, turn them over, transform them, play them. I was dreaming of another child with other spells? The use of electronic sounds provides a satisfactory answer to this need for imagination. It is a question of "modelling" sound, of inventing it (more than 400 different sounds in the room…). I chose a synthesis that is no longer in fashion: FM synthesis (frequency modulation), the famous DX7 synthesis. This choice is part of the same will to play, and it is, it seems to me, possible to make a new music with tools that smell like the 80/90s. I do not confuse design and tool. I can take any tool, as long as it conforms to my design. I have also played with the Percussions de Strasbourg. They wanted a piece for them, for their instruments (skins, keyboards…), and I suggested another way: inventing instruments that could be touched and produce electronic sounds. There are many "pads" on the market, but I wanted much more sensitivity, especially for the hands. We were beginning to discover pressure "sensors". So I had specific instruments made for them thanks to the Attentat association, whose support from the Ministry of Culture at the time made it possible. It should be noted that these instruments have a high attack sensitivity (127 degrees!). The manufacture of these electronic cases (designed by Emmanuel Fléty) was taken over and marketed by the IRCAM.
Bibilolo is a rather "special" piece, for children and adults who want to indulge in an imagination without borders, at the same time light, happy and sometimes tragic!
Creation: 19 January 2002, La Laiterie, Strasbourg, France Musicians: 6 percussionnistes Duration: 6' Publishing: Cerise Music
"Mort et transfiguration pour 40 balais is a piece that reacts to the previously written pieces of this collective commission. My piece followed that of Philipe Leroux, and the end of this score was undoubtedly the detonator of this work. The "percussion" remains a difficulty for me. Writing for percussion implies either working on rhythm or on timbre and thus exposes me to a redundancy of the already heard, or at least confirms my difficulty in dominating these instruments without being in the repetition. It is for this reason that my first piece for percussion was with dx pianos ("musiques en boite à retour à…"), that the second - solo for Jean Pierre Drouet - with electronics and stage ("tapotages et exutoires"), and the third - for the Percussions de Strasbourg - exploited new instruments with sensors (Bibilolo). For this anniversary homage, I wanted to avoid what was said before in the plays that preceded me, starting from Leroux's idea of mechanical noise (drill) and amplifying it in a dramaturgy: a percussionist dies, resuscitates, the others die using various noises, and the text of Psalm 48, diverted from its believing will in favour of pure poetry, accentuates the staging of these noises. The text of the psalm favours the gap between the percussionists who indulge in the sadomasochism of percussive playing and the imprecise effect of it, a text that poorly disguises a desire for human domination. Thus, to sublimate these 40 years, percussionists have the choice between dying or rising again. They can develop their own concept of "group of percussionists" without taking themselves too seriously. »
Creation: 2012 Duration: 10' Musicians: 3 percussionists (marimba and dancer)
Stop Making Senseis the piece that helped me redefine my work as a composer and sound artist. It was written on the initiative of percussionist Galdric Subirana who was looking for a piece that would join dance and music in a novel way, a piece where dance and music would become one while each conserving their distinct identities. Around a modified marimba filled with nothing more than D flats, a percussionist strikes a note. Its resonance is then cut off by the dancer. What follows is a game of didactics where the dancer forces the percussionist to modify his approach to the instrument by taking over the physical space of said instrument. Stop wants to tell a story, that of two people living in independent worlds yet bound by a common physical reality, a reality that both enables and challenges communication.
Dedicated to Galdric Subirana, Robert Pascal and Véronique Béland
Creation: 25 May 2016, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, France Duration: 15'
H1 by Minh-Tâm Nguyen is a work written for the Percustra workshop "Percussions et nouvelles technologies" which took place from January to May 2016 in Hautepierre, Strasbourg.
Histones are nuclear proteins associated with DNA. They participate in the formation of chromatin, and the level of DNA condensation during mitosis depends on the presence of these molecules. They are associated to form nucleosomes around which the DNA is wrapped. It takes 8 histones (4 different types: H2A,H2B,H3,H4) to form a nucleosome. Six individuals from different backgrounds, wandering in a world of sound genetically modified by electronic inflections and modulations, cross, associate and discover each other in a (so) familiar environment. A seventh character (a little rebellious and resistant) constitutes, in spite of himself, the source of this association and is in turn fixed on the whole. The fifth type of histone (H1) is in turn fixed to the whole (histones + DNA) and stabilises the winding of DNA on the nucleosome. Instruments, of course, but little … and then, a little modified anyway. But above all, bodies in movement… Circulation, connections, glances. A journey. In the end… A return to such a familiar environment…
Creation : 17 January 1962, Maison de la Radio de Strasbourg, by Les Percussions de Strasbourg, direction : Charles Bruck. Musicians : 6 percussionists Publishing : Inédit Observation : Grand Prize of the Radiophonic Community for French language programs (Montreal 1963)
Creation: 4 November 1979, Milan, by Percussions of the Teatro alla Scala Musicians: 6 percussions, real-time processing (2 loudspeakers, 3 contact microphones, 3 ring modulators and 3 frequency generators) Duration: 14' Publishing: Ricordi
Con Luigi Dallapiccola is another attempt against a current trend, also lazy, of forms, both terrestrial and interstellar, that adapt to "common sense", within a permitted and accepted game, with rules that tend to institutionalise a supposed "absolute" of time, thought and reason, a supreme order that defines "at the same time a code of discipline for all human behaviour. "Con Luigi Dallapiccola is an attempt to re-propose, in a new reading, the multiple spaces of his musical thought, in the concretised and concretising autonomies, in his scores, in the performances, in the critical studies.
Creation: March 15, 1986, Germany, Cologne. June 6, 1986 (second version), Italy, Turin, by Susanne Otto: contralto, Roberto Fabbriciani: flute, Giancarlo Schiaffini: tuba, Peter Hirsch: conductor, Experimentalstudio der Heinrich-Strobel Stiftung, Luigi Nono: sound control. October 8, 1987, France, Paris (final version), by the same interpreters. Duration: 40' Dedicated to: Massimo CACCIARI Musicians: Contralto solo, flute, tuba, 6 percussionists and electronic device in real time. Publishing : Ricordi
By its radicality, is a work emblematic of Nono's search for innovation after his play Prometeo. Premiered in Cologne on March 15, 1986, it was reworked several times by the composer for a series of subsequent performances. It is a work of "wandering resonances" of the instruments and the voice. For his final version, Nono chose only isolated words from the four poems from Herman Melville's Battle Pièces (1819-1891) and from Ingeborg Bachmann's poem Keine Delikatessen: "deep abyss", "pain crime", "Hunger - Tränen - Finsternis", "despairing", "death", "Verzweiflung", a landscape of abandonment, despair and death. Rizonanze erranti is Luigi Nono's "winter journey" which ends with a final Fragment sospeso! on questions - ich? du? er? sie? wir? ihr? (me? you? him? her? it? us? you?)- the last one with the indication "duro, wie Anklage, lasciando sospeso" (hard, like an accusation, left unsaid). But they also conceal another, historical dimension: the title page of the score states "echoes of Guillaume de Machaut, Josquin Desprez and Johannes Ockeghem". Nono, however, cites only two or three initial notes from these works of early music dating back to the distant fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They are sung by the voice as well as by instruments and transported by electronics into ever-changing sound spaces; unlike Melville's fragments from the American Civil War or Ingeborg Bachmann's catastrophic "thirtieth year", which are assigned specific sound spaces. The instruments create violent contrasts of range and dynamics, but at the same time Nono experiments with imperceptible transitions between vocal, instrumental and electronically transformed sounds. It is like an invocation of the vast spaces of Dante's Inferno (3'22): "Quivi, sospiri, pianti et altri guai / Risonavan per l'aer senza stelle" (there, sighs, sobs and piercing cries / resounded in a sky without stars) - a world both very close and very strange. And again and again the hard blows of the bongos, the delicate resonances of the rattlesnakes and the mysterious beating of the Sardinian bells seem to get lost in the spaces and long silences that separate the islands from the fragments. "She did not sing roles, but lived on the edge of the razor" wrote Ingerborg Bachmann about Maria Callas. In Melville, Bachmann and Nono, it is exactly these same extreme situations. The aim for the listener - according to Nono - is "to broaden everything, to deepen everything, to bring about other changes, human mutations, feeling, social, reform, thought…".
Traduction : Catherine Fourcassié Booklet (detail, author): Ingeborg Bachmann et Herman Melville
Creation: 30 September 1988, Italie, Turin, Italy, Turin, festival Eco Narciso, by les Percussions de Strasbourg, direction : Olivier Dejours (creation of Clivages I at the Festival Musica de Strasbourg on September 29th 1987) Commissioner: Fondation Gulbenkian Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 40' Publishing: Ricordi, München, nº Sy 3037
This piece was commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The first part of Clivages was premiered on 29 September 1987 at the Musica festival in Strasbourg for the 25th anniversary of the Percussions de Strasbourg. The second part was premiered on 30 September 1988 at the Eco Narciso Festival in Turin, performed again by the Percussions de Strasbourg under the direction of Olivier Dejours. Clivages pour six percussions is a piece made up of two parts, which are performed in uninterrupted succession. If one considers the instruments used in these two parts, one immediately grasps the fundamental differences between them: the first uses exclusively instruments with a "determined sound"; to these are added, in the second, instruments with an "indeterminate sound" which, despite the strong presence of their rather absorbing timbre, acquire a syntactic function in the discourse. This means that the inharmonic (or even noisy) component of the timbres is integrated into the overall melodic and harmonic relationships present, without destroying them. Especially in the second part, we will notice how the timbres of the different percussion instruments manage to surpass their simple individual physical-acoustic presence (as timbre information allowing the identification of their instrumental origin), becoming elements of a coherent musical language, through the use of these same sound qualities, which are attributed functions equivalent to those of vocables, syllables, consonants, vowels, etc.., in a language. Organised afterwards into "words", "phrases", etc., these elements acquire a musical meaning in the course of speech, which goes beyond their individual acoustic existence, just as, in spoken language, different combinations of the same sounds (vowels, consonants, syllables, etc.) can exteriorise different semantic contents (depending on the specific grouping of these sounds, the context, the intonation, etc.). These contents go far beyond the pure and simple addition of all that was already "implied" in the individual sounds present. It would still be interesting to consider this "problematic" from the perspective of Sound and the Word, a system of communicating vessels between two opposing forces, the dynamic extremes of the same reality: the desire of Sound to rise to the category of Word, and the tendency of the Word to return (or always to refer) to its origins as Sound, to its "carnal" element, the indispensable vehicle of the Word itself (…). In this sense, in Clivages it is Sound - or rather the most primitive, rough and a priori remote types of sounds with a possibility of Verbal/Vocal exteriorisation - that rises to reach the dimensions of the Verb and the coherence of an autonomous language, capable of exteriorising a wide range of different contents in the form of a musical discourse. However, it is not a question of trying to "imitate" the spoken language with the help of "words set to music", or to express one's own meanings, but only to create one's own sound elements, as well as to affirm musical ideas by using the expressive potential of the language in presence.
Creation: 11 June 1991, Portugal, Lisbon, Fifteenth Gulbenkian Encounters of Contemporary Music, by the Ensemble Modern, Les Percussions de Strasbourg and the Gulbenkian Orchestra, direction : Mark Foster and Emilio Pomarico Commissioner: Fondation Gulbenkian Musicians: 6 percussionistes Duration : 56' Publishing: Ricordi, München, nº Sy. 3107 Dedicated to: Luis Pereira Leal
Quodlibet: a Latin term - literally: "what one wants" - which designates a musical form characterised by the freedom with which the composer can integrate and confront - sometimes with humour - heterogeneous material from disparate sources. In Quodlibet, Emmanuel Nunes worked with material from different periods, but exclusively from fourteen of his own works. In Quodlibet, Emmanuel Nunes worked with materials from different periods, but exclusively from fourteen of his own works. Moreover, there are no collages here, and almost no quotations: all the materials have been somehow freed from their original instrumental realisation, to be recomposed, reworked from their raw state. To use an expression of Levi-Strauss's that the composer made his own, Quodlibet goes back and forth between "raw and cooked". So much so, in fact, that it is probably impossible to establish any relationship to the source works on hearing them. And this was certainly not the project. Indeed, Quodlibet is perhaps above all a piece in which space is written. The score was conceived for the Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon - a place full of resonance and memories: from his childhood, Nunes attended the most diverse performances there - from circus, gymnastics, zarzuela and operettas to classical music concerts, for which the imposingly proportioned enclosure was home to the greatest performers. A space in which the composer carried out a veritable preliminary reconnaissance work, chronometer in hand, in order to measure travel times from one point to another, in the galleries or in the stands. For the score provides, in addition to the orchestra and the seven musicians on the stage, twenty-one mobile instrumentalists scattered throughout the floors. Figure 1 reproduces the plan of the Coliseu, where the composer has indicated the positions that these travelling performers will occupy.
Creation: 22 November 2008 - Festival des 38ème Rugissants de Grenoble (resumed on 25 November 2008 as part of Le Maillon season in Strasbourg) Composition: Farangis Nurulla-Khoja Commissioner: Mécénat Musical Société Générale Co-production: Festival des 38ème Rugissants of Grenoble and Les Percussions de Strasbourg with the support of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) Duration: 60' Musicians: 6 percussionists, 4 singers of traditional oriental music, 2 instrumentalists of tanbur sato and tanbur setar
Composer's note of intent Maqâms and Percussions… This project is the continuity of a reflection that I have been carrying out for several years and which is at the very heart of my work as a composer. Indeed, there is a real challenge in wanting to use music from an oral tradition that has been perpetuated for hundreds of years with contemporary music that is constantly evolving. What happens when music written in the present meets music written in tradition? Does this mean that things must remain immutable? Fortunately, art likes to combine paradoxes and I prefer to imagine that this encounter, this collision between musical traditions is an inexhaustible source for today's art and an answer to our own reflections. For my part, my sensitivity to traditional music comes from my Tajik roots. This Central Asian culture has always had a long tradition of openness to new trends and reflects the innovative and creative spirit of the Silk Road. When I work with Eastern and Western musicians, I constantly have to face challenges in a concrete way and discover how to bring these two trends together. My affinity for certain string resonances (the subtlety of the Tajik tanbur, for example) enriches my musical writing. As the strings have the ability to resonate in sympathy with each other, I have found new perspectives for this ensemble project here. I have already worked on a Maqam et Créations project with the Royaumont Foundation. It was very fruitful and a wonderful experience that allowed us to work with French, Syrian, Andalusian, Armenian and Iranian musicians. My new piece will be written for the six musicians of the Percussions de Strasbourg, five singers of traditional oriental music, and a traditional oriental musician: sato/tanbur - sato-tadjik rubbed-string instrument. The concert will take the form of an intermission-free performance lasting approximately 80 minutes. My composition will be an encounter between traditional and contemporary music based on percussion and voices. The performance will take the form of a journey elaborated around ancient Pamirian melodies with complex and irregular rhythms. I will extract rhythmic material from other traditions as well, and sometimes insert an element of fiction into my metrical rhythm as if I were trying to describe dances from an imaginary culture. In this way, I will apply transcription methods as a kind of energy transfer from one source to another, collecting here and there fragments of Tajik, Andalusian and Syrian traditions from different periods that will form the basis of my imaginary sound for this contemporary work. The transcriptions of Syrian and Pamirian melodies will have their own directional energy that will influence my composition. This intertextuality will energize the work and the way we feel the composition. These transcriptions will be of a great variety: abstract like an acceleration of harmonic rhythms in an ancient Pamirian melody or a deceleration like in an early Renaissance motet; or visceral like a heartbeat or a repetitive series of flamenco guitar rasgueado's. Their energy will allow us to place them in their historical and cultural context. Then I will compact these rhythmic processes, which will encourage me to write measure by measure, taking into account the energies. The incorporation of certain complex rhythms of traditional music also poses a great challenge. In general, most of my work consists of transcribing falaki (destiny music) rhythms. For example, for falaki, most rhythms are 5/8 (1-2/1-2-3). Nowadays, however, there are more 6/8 or 7/8. This way of using the old rhythmic tools is the essence of contemporary music. This composition work is intended for the Percussions de Strasbourg and voices. My intention is to focus more on the rhythms and vocal aspects of maqams. Beyond the structure of maqams, it is their proximity to the human voice that attracts me. Because of my roots, I have within me this language, this ability to use it and to appropriate it within the framework of my approach as a composer. More than a form, the maqam is a language and a culture. My sensitivity for the resonances of the strings (the subtlety of the sound of the tadjiko tanbur, for example), suggests a vision of contemporary music to me. Thanks to the richness of these resonances, I think I will find in this project of artistic encounters, another metaphor which would be that of an artistic and musical entity. This way of working with ancient forms, once again, is the very essence of my musical work. I think that this kind of collaboration between voices and instruments, between tradition and modernity, will encourage us to reflect and listen.
Creation : 08/09/2007, Royaumont Abbey Music and conception : Gérard Pesson Number of musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 14 mn
Ur Timon is a sort of concerto in which each one of the soloists successively comes to the centre of the set whilst the other five make up what used to be called the ripieno in the Baroque period.
This Chandelle game, or Furet*, is applied to a ritual of sounds, in that Ur-timon is performed in a ring in the middle of which both the soloist and his work bench / altar are the focal point. For all that, those soli are no virtuosi. They rather stand for this small theatre of sounds and its circulation where each one, often miscast, enters in turn and speaks according to what he specializes in.
Here the percussion uses only a small part of the impressive material provided for by the 20th Century. The small puppet staged concerto rings the bell for global warming (which happened to be the first title of the piece) at the very moment when there is nothing left- the sounds themselves in the first place – to be either sorted out or thrown away. On the contrary, as music makes its way towards childlike constructions where all can sound, where everything can be cast for the part of the orchestra (plastic bottles, glass, rusks, rubber bands, bird-organs, toys, hunting bird calls, Kway, scratch, etc.), it is definitely poverty that is required. In this recycling workshop, the line between what is most dreamt about and what is most laughed at is never really clear-cut. In that sense, Ur-timon is also a role play.
Ur-timon falls into tableaux and playlets which would tell the story of a Noah’s Ark of the sound as if used like a glove puppet. Marches, fanfares, chimes or other conductus mark each time a soloist walks towards his work bench. Along the lines of some progressive dramatic art dealing with the transformation of elements, each movement of the concerto is devoted to a material which becomes, following the examples of Dante’s Inferno or Sade’s Days of Sodom, a circle as being a step in an initiation.
The title not only refers to the Sumerian city of Ur, today in Iraq near Bassorah, which was believed to be Abraham’s town, according to the book of Genesis, but also to the German prefix which, even though there is no etymological link, means the origin. For the sound makers – the composer as well as the instrumentalists – there is nothing more poignant as this timbre works which seems to keep echoing this breathtaking precedence. The timon in question refers to the soloist as he conducts this ritual, or even better, as he calls the tune.
A motive for this sonorous game of furet is required ("the itchy palm" could also be an ideal subtitle). It could be: more reliability in frailty and miscasting as much as possible.
Gérard Pesson (translated by J-C Beaumont) May 2007
*The Furet (also called the Chandelle) is a French traditional children’s party game. The equivalent would be "Drop the Handkerchief" or "Pass the Slipper".  A "Timon" in French is a shaft or a beam.
Five concertos for percussion ensemble and soloists
Percussions : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Piano : Benoît Delbecq Guitar : Marc Ducret Dj : eRikM Vocal : Emilie Lesbros Percussions : Bobby Previte Composition and arrangement : Bobby Previte Coproduction : Percussions de Strasbourg and La Filature, Scène nationale de Mulhouse
Composed by the American jazz musician Bobby Previte, Terminals features Les Percussions de Strasbourg and five great French improvisers. Their separate concertos dovetail in a thrilling and prolific meeting of the classical and the improvised worlds.
Terminals places the standard orchestral percussion instruments (timpani, snare drum, triangle), alongside instruments that in the last century were codified into the percussion literature (brake drums, anvils, almglocken), regional instruments highly associated with folk music (cuica, spoons, talking drum, timbales), electronic percussion (drum machine), and unclassifiable elements (bullwhip), to fashion a landscape to each soloist.
"One day on a Delta Airlines flight I was bored, so I reached into the seat pocket and pulled out the magazine. I became fascinated with the "Terminal Maps", graphic representations of those spaces we all pass through so often in modern life. The drawings reminded me of percussion instruments set up on a stage. At this moment, Terminals was born". Bobby Previte
Creation : 28/03/1992, Paris Music and conception : Gilles Racot Number of musicians : 6 percussionnists et electroacoustic sound Duration : 20 mn Commissioned by : Maison de Radio France and INA/GRM
Homage to the work of the painter Zao Wou-ki.
When I emerged from childhood I was deeply affected by the works of certain contemporary painters. They marked the beginning of my education in the visual arts and, in a far more personal way, became guidelines and represented an intersection where other areas of the imagination and awareness, such as that of music, confronted each other and merged together. The space and pictorial light in Zao Wou-Ki’s work, its play with transparency, fluidity, opacity, textures, emptiness and the energy the paintings suggest had a major influence on the direction my early musical compositions took and doubtless remain, albeit subconsciously, my guidelines. The title clearly has its roots in the painting style of the master and in the choice of percussion instruments whose playing techniques are particularly physical. Even though Subgestuel may not be an exact equivalent of the master’s works the piece, nevertheless, evokes certain artist’s gestures ; varied ranges of pitch with different intensity of energy that are concentrated, lashed, whipped, nervous, separated, scraped and smoothed out, « light, broad brush strokes ». The initial aim in writing the percussion parts was to move away from their role of « percussive » instruments and to compose in such a way as to render the sound more flexible, fluid and melodious. One of the aspects of work on the sound of the electroacoustic parts involvec accentuating and forcing the instrumental writing beyond the technical possibilities of the instruments, such as the speed at which certain passages were played, reducing harmonics, the line of phrases, etc…
Subgestuel is the second work written in homage to the work of a painter, the first being Noctuel (1987) for bassoon and electroacoustic sound in homage to the work of Pierre Soulages. Following the example of these two painters, who incidentally were close friends, the two compositions are very different in terms of the basic sound material and concept, event to the extent of being exact opposites and representing two complementary aspects of my work : one revolves around energy and movement while the other is an in-depth exploration of sound material.
Clapping Music is a minimalist piece written in 1972. It is written for two performers and is performed entirely by clapping.
A development of the phasing technique from Reich's earlier works such as Piano Phase, it was written when Reich wanted to (in his own words) "create a piece of music that needed no instruments beyond the human body". However, he quickly found that the mechanism of phasing slowly in and out of tempo with each other was inappropriate for the simple clapping involved in producing the actual sounds that made the music.
Instead of phasing, one performer claps a basic rhythm, a variation of the fundamental African bell pattern in 12/8 time, for the entirety of the piece. The other claps the same pattern, but after every 8 or 12 bars shifts by one eighth note to the right. The two performers continue this until the second performer has shifted 12 eighth notes and is hence playing the pattern in unison with the first performer again (as at the beginning), some 144 bars later. The variation of the African bell pattern is minimal; it contains just one additional beat. However, this minimal addition results in a much more interesting piece from the point of view of the variation of syncopation as the piece progresses.
Six Marimbas, composed in 1986, is a rescoring for marimbas of my earlier Six Pianos (1973). The idea to rescore came from my friend, the percussionist James Preiss, who has been a member of my ensemble since 1971 and also contributed the hand and mallet alterations that are used in this score. The piece begins with three marimbas playing the same eight beat rhythmic pattern, but with different notes for each marimba. One of the other marimbas begins to gradually build up the exact pattern of one of the marimbas already playing by putting the notes of the fifth beat on the seventh beat, then putting the notes of the first beat on the third beat, and so on, reconstructing the same pattern with the same notes, but two beats out of phase. When this canonic relationship has been fully constructed, the two other marimbas double some of the many melodic patterns resulting from this four marimba relationship. By gradually increasing their volume they bring these resulting patterns up to the surface of the music; then, by lowering the volume they slowly return them to the overall contrapuntal web, in which the listener can hear them continuing along with many others in the ongoing four marimba relationship.
This process of rhythmic construction followed by doubling the resulting patterns is then continued in the three sections of the piece that are marked off by changes of mode and gradually higher position on the marimba, the first in D-flat major, the second in E-flat dorian, and the third in B-flat natural minor.
Creation: Commissionner: Les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: 4 percussionnists Duration: 10'
"The title comes from the image of the fungi's network that establishes a mutual relationship with the tree on which it grows. Some trees carry the fungi at their roots to exchange nutrients that each tree cannot obtain on its own. There is a hypothesis that the fungi helps communication between trees. It is very curious that we are still discovering the hidden role of a tiny living being and it is only in recent years that scientists have begun to notice the function of the fungi that lives inside the tree.
This botanical story is very inspiring to think about composing with the marimba, a wooden instrument. In this work, I first developed the musical texture from techniques that derive from the original nature of the marimba such as the percussive, virtuoso gesture and the variation with the tremolo. At the same time, I tried to unveil the potential of the marimba with an unusually varied instrumentation. I have exploited other gestures so that the marimba can be fully associated with the percussion group with its infinitely rich palette of timbre. The marimba can emit sound by playing with bamboo or wooden sticks. I have also enriched these timbres through the use of the bow. This instrumentation has allowed me to metamorphose the sound of the marimba by associating rubbing with the percussive gesture.
I have structured the musical elements of this piece starting from the marimba way but, here, the marimbist is not considered as a soloist and the three other percussionists are not considered as accompanists. » Naoki Sakata
"The main point of Homework II: In The Garage is to show someone reading a generic instruction manual. This action is superimposed with a ritualistic attitude which transforms the reading and action of assembling the device into a trance. The text alternates between the introspection of the performer and the text of the instruction manual. As the piece progresses, these two concepts merge. The music does allude to the ritualist aspects and gives all the dramatical direction. It also shows the destruction of the individual via the paroxysm of physical activity. I must say, however, that the narrative is quite allusive and doesn't establish a clear plot. My difficult task was to be both precise and allusive… The idea of body percussion and its short, percussive sounds is linked to the idea of building a mechanical / electronic device, both through the type of sounds and the "DIY" concept (the person in his garage building something produces all the sounds himself). This opposition between the mechanics and the absence of instrument (not so frequent into contemporary music) is the central point of the piece, because it questions the existence and the nature of the thing, of the tool, the object."
The dutchman Peter Schat, born in Utrecht in 1935, studied in The Hague, London and finally in Basel with Pierre Boulez. It was in 1961 that Schat composed his "Signalement" for six percussionists and three contrabasses, for the Percussions de Strasbourg. The title of the piece comes from the signals exchanged by the interpreters to coordinate their interventions. The work, in fact, gradually gives more freedom of choice to musicians and goes from reading a specific musical text to a game where the "chance" occurs within the limits provided by the composer. The coordination signals will therefore become real signs of direction and the interpreters will each in turn have a responsibility at least equal to that of a conductor.
The contrabasses, which only appear episodically, are added to the piano treated in percussion and whose strings have been previously "prepared" by the introduction of various objects. In the last part of the work, the particular timbre emitted by the piano determines the replicas of the other desks on this or that group of instruments. "After we hear a piano string pinched by a coin, stifled by a piece of rubber or struck with chopsticks, the percussionists will play the corresponding sequence only on metal, wood, or skin instruments", says the author.
"Signalement" is therefore an "open" work whose sonorous life does not go away for a moment. Here we can follow not only the thought of the composer, but the most personal reactions of the interpreters who have the opportunity to influence the speech in the direction of their own sensitivity.
Creation: June 1969 at Vaison la Romaine Duration: 12'
"Shen" which means depth is an attempt to penetrate the mysterious depths of life (sheng): the rhythms of heartbeats, of breathing. Musically, the work is based on three kinds of elements: sequences of solemn, ritual character, dancing, cheerful, even ironic rhythms, observations resulting from a study of the characteristics and variations of the human heartbeat and breathing. During development, these three basic elements collide, intertwine, overlap and gradually change through their reciprocal influence. The composer is primarily interested in composing "lively" music".
Creation: 4 october 2014 at Musica festival, Strasbourg Comissioner: festival Musica Duration: 10'
Traces is a score written in Percustra mode which was developed over five months in close collaboration with the six amateur musicians of the Lycée Le Corbusier and Claude Ferrier of the Percussions de Strasbourg. Contrary to the usual work of a composer who creates a score and then plays it, this piece wanted to take into account the sound desires and technical possibilities of a non-musician. From the outset, the search for sound and rhythm according to proposed models was at the centre of the joint work. This led to the choice of instruments, the idea of more sonorous or more rhythmic parts and the integration of movements to become aware of the space and the sounds circulating in it. The instrumentarium is made up of two marimbas, each played by three, and above all instruments with undefined pitches, such as wooden drums, wood simantra, metals (sheet metal plates, brake drums, tam-tams), skins (toms, bass drums) and cardboard. The final score is made up of the written parts and others which leave room for improvisation, with a predefined choice of instruments, a number of actions and a fixed time frame. The aim is to leave sound traces in the space". Annette Schlünz
Creation: 23 october 1994 at the Autumn festival, Bonn, DE Musicians: 6 percussionnists Duration: 11' Publishing: Bote Bock
" Water in itself does not exist. One conception of water is a river, another is a puddle, a third is rain. The four natural elements: earth, water, fire and air take on their full meaning with the fifth element: the spirit "Wolf Kahlen. Rain takes on very different forms and is, like all other natural elements, an "innocent dependency", just as it is dependent on non-materialised noise. Rain creates sound, only the mind can record it through acoustic perception. The mind can imagine sounds without hearing them… What a marvellous suspended moment, like a foreboding rain. How close is the sound, produced by the rhythms of percussion instruments. Both (sound and rhythms) inspired by the imagination of the mind. Different elements blend inseparably together down to the smallest detail, to become one sound, in its own right. Listening to music or rain, a process in time, time inhabited by numbers, like music. A piece for 6 musicians - 6, the absolute number, because it is the sum as much as the product : 1+2+3 and 1x2x3. It is also the product of the first male (3) and the first female (2) digits, whose sum is the indivisible 5. This play with numbers in the mathematical and poetic sense (e.g. interpretation of their polarities) becomes audible time in the most varied relations between sounds, dense or almost naked, strong, soft, interrupted by silence, calm… like the imperceptible beginning of a rain". Annette Schlünz
"Commissioned by the German radio SWR 3 for Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the work was presented in Cologne for its world premiere on 15 February 2014. A journey to the heart of spectral music, of the structure of sound, through various references to current popular music, which proposes a harmonic construction based on the study of the earth's layers. "The idea for this piece is based on my interest in the methods of stratigraphy applied in the science of geology. It is about "synchronisation" (by dating and correlation) of heterogeneous material making it possible to reconstruct the geological history of the earth. Poetically, it could be formulated as follows: the history thus stratified into different time periods leads to the history of the past (pun Ge-Schichte and Gegenwart(sschicht) both contain the word stratum) Superstructure consists of 66 modules. They are derived from vertical source blocks, which are formed respectively from the middle to the upper regions, from 18 artificial and 18 natural spectra. The fundamentals of the spectra remain absent because they are below the lowest tones of the instruments used. Each performer is assigned 11 modules, which can emerge respectively in 6 different variants within the horizontal (sequential) and vertical (simultaneous) poles. I have taken up the challenge of producing the spectral material mainly through instruments tuned in the tempered range, through the quantification of the tonal pitches as well as through the well-targeted combination of instruments". Oliver Schneller
Creation: 8 october 2003 at Musica festival, Strasbourg Musicians: 6 percussionnists Duration: 6'
"Archaos is a cycle of 5 pieces for 6 percussionists and sound material of "digital lutherie", synthetic material elaborated, forged and realised on these new instruments for composers in the 21st century, which are computers. Archaos 1 opens the heart of the cycle. However, at present no loudspeaker here, only the living, complex, unstable and subtle qualities of each musician in contact with the sound bodies can be heard. The loudspeakers will follow, afterwards. Feel, the senses on the lookout, hunting and fleetingly capturing sensations and their perceptual contours, then understanding, taking this sensory journey to oneself, metamorphosing it into a mental experience. Thus the archaic universal experience of this so singular perception that leads us from sound to music. Like light leads us to enchantment, when it comes from the stars, or radiates from a child's eyes, for example". Philippe Schoeller
Creation: 9 september 2000 at Abbaye de Royaumont Comissioner: State commission for Les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 15'
Where does this terrible authority of the skies come from? What punch was given to the sheet metal of the night to make it vibrate so radiant, to make it become so radiant, with vibrations that amplify until midday? (Francis Ponge, La Mounine). In the same way that temporal representations are certainly modified in a painting, but that the painting always speaks as if reflecting its temporality, so the pictorial representations that run through the sound world of red and blue undergo modifications, but remain rooted in pictoriality. Supported by strong instrumental colours, where each blow on the instruments says something about the rigidity of the metal that will vibrate, the form must, in this way, paradoxically form in the listener's ear as picture and colour. "In the simple blue of the sky the soul gently glides - and as it leaves the last etiola, it rushes, wings spread, towards the infinite" (Jean-Paul, De la magie naturelle de nos facultés de représentation).
World premiere: from 17 to 19 september 2021 , Théâtre Le Maillon, Strasbourg, FR Comissioner: Festival Musica, La Muse en Circuit – Centre National de Création Musicale, Opéra National du Rhin Effectif: 5 dancers/performers, 4 singers, 6 percussionists Duration: 35:34' Production: Festival Musica Coproduction: Théâtre Le Maillon, Percussions de Strasbourg, La Muse en Circuit – Centre National de Création Musicale, Multimedia Kontor Hamburg
The theatre becomes the site of a ritual. A total and uninterrupted performance, to be experienced day and night, for 35 hours and 34 minutes.
Immersive installation, interactive performance, a place of spirituality for the present and the future. With Asterism, Alexander Schubert has created an unidentified artistic object, at the crossroads of musical, scenic and technological practices. Within a strange sanctuary, constantly vacillating between hyperrealism and virtuality, natural and artificial elements, musicians and performers, as well as an artificial intelligence in control of the ritual, rub shoulders. A post-digital nature, a hallucinatory in-between world that the public is invited to explore at any time of the night
Creation: October 4th 1971, Playhouse, Canberra ACT, AUS Commissioner : Musica Viva Australia for the Canberra Spring Festival
Based on an Australian Aboriginal legend. Originally for percussion sextet; later published edition for percussion quartet Titles: 1. Prelude; 2. Sea; 3. Seashore; 4. Interlude; 5. Fire; 6. Interlude; 7. Stars
The work "Alternances", composed in 1961-62 for the Percussions de Strasbourg, consists of nine musical "events", five of which are calm in nature, while the other four are somewhat unsettling. Differences of timbre also distinguish these nine basic elements, sometimes with groups focusing on "skins" (timbales), keyboards (celesta, vibraphone) or ""metals"" (cymbals, triangles, bells, rattlesnakes, etc.). Some of these "events" are of a definite form, while others take on several aspects. Their order of succession is left to the free will of the interpreters, with however the obligation to maintain throughout the work the principle of alternation between the two main categories. The result is an airy discourse of very great sonic mobility which leaves an important part of initiative to the interpreters. The percussion thus acquires a fully convincing expressive capability, in addition to its strictly fascinating sound effects.
Makoto Shinohara, born in Osaka in 1931, belongs to this new Japanese school that quickly assimilated the most revolutionary concepts of Western music without denying its oldest national traditions. After attending the University of Arts in Tokyo, he worked with Messiaen in Paris, then with Stockhausen and Koenig in Cologne. His works show a strong taste for fantastic sounds, a perfect knowledge of electroacoustic techniques, some interest in "random" processes, and at the same time, a very personal temperament."
Creation: 2 february 2002 at Présences Festival (Radio France), Paris, FR Commissioned by: Commande d’Etat Radio-France Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 8' Publishing: Jobert
Musical piece made of insistent notes, metal rains, wooden sparks, thunderstorm, we emerge our head from the water and we do it again. The desire to enjoy a theater for the ear, the desire to create a space where sounds are as alive as humans. Simple structures, simple things, simple actions and excitations, accompanying resonances for this free time that sometimes need to be framed.
Creation: 8 May 2004 at Marseille Commissioned by French State and GMEM de Marseille Duration: 15' Publishing: Lemoine
Aux sas, à six, …et plus is a commission from the State and the GMEM de Marseille for Les Percussions de Strasbourg, dedicated to these musicians for whom I have already frequently worked. The idea of this piece is to be found in a rhythmic series of sixteen beats (divided into 7+5+4 units) heard during a concert by the Iranian percussionist and zarb player Djamchid Chemirani. The variation linked to the very essence of improvisation in this musical tradition and the different modes of play of this digital percussion (as well as the resulting colours) are at the origin of what motivated me to write this work. It is, therefore, a whole series of variations - at first with "skins" - and then with "skins". (struck by sticks), then with keyboards (with more or less determined heights). The role of electronics is that of a complementary character, a sort of shadow of chaos, whose discourse is sprinkled sometimes with flashes, sometimes with resonances, sometimes with reminiscences. Jean-Marc Singier
Creation: 4 may 1996 at La Filature, Mulhouse, FR Commissioned by French State Musicians: 6 percussionnists Duration: 13' Publishing: Henry Lemoine
" A piece written both in memory of the Chinese composer Mo Wuping and in homage to the Percussions de Strasbourg, this work owes much to the discovery of certain rare instruments, notably the "putipus", Italian friction drums. It is divided into four moments, each of which gives the first role to a particular timbre: the friction drums, the woodwinds (marimbas), the metals (cymbals and vibraphones) and then the hand percussion are the successive leaders". Jean-Marc Singier
Creation: 19 January 2002 at La Laiterie, Strasbourg, FR Publishing: Lemoine
" This "salmigondis" is the 9th "portion" of the birthday cake composed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Percussions de Strasbourg. You will find, in a jumble: some bits of sounds (from my predecessors) re-seasoned with a mézigue sauce, fragments of fruit (from previous collaborations), "spicy" themes (evoking happy moments spent in the company of these delicious musicians), the pleasure of having other projects with them, and of finding them again and again … Happy birthday and long life to the whole team". Jean-Marc Singier
Creation: 14 March 2019 at Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, FR Commissioner: Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians: 4 percussionists Duration: 15'
For this play written especially for the Percussions de Strasbourg, Gabriel Sivak drew on his personal memories of La Nueva, an early 20th century printing house in Andalusia, which belonged to a grandfather he never knew. The play La Nueva reveals the richness of printing as a sound source. The mechanics of the printing press allow many possibilities of timbres and dynamics, and the sheet, the ink, the different types of machines such as the lynotype, the monotype or the keyboards bring a rich play of musical textures. Gabriel Sivak is also interested in the historical aspect of printing, which allowed the first globalisation and profoundly transformed the society of the time. La Nueva is part of a cycle of creations, completed by the installation Rivière d'encre, for machines, video and electronics".
Creation: 18 November 1984 at Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FR Commissioner: French Ministry of Culture Duration: 20'
This piece could just as well have been called "Distraction", "Divertissement" or any other term indicating that it is a work of diversion. Indeed, I believe it involves elements that are relatively unusual in the world of contemporary music. These elements, "imported" from jazz music, make certain more or less camouflaged, more or less hypocritical appearances. Is it a piece of jazz, a piece of contemporary music? I believe that it is rather a question, like all the pieces I write for groups whose main activity is not jazz, of a language comprising, in parallel, elements belonging to different types of music, but which can nowadays cohabit perfectly, partly thanks to the progress of … listeners. At one point I used "pluri-jazz" (a word invented today!), that is to say a superimposition of different tempos, which leads to a rhythmic complexity from which chance is not absent. Finally, I chose to give priority to notes played on keys, rather than to blows struck on skins or other objects. I would like to add that I am particularly happy to have been asked to write for Les Percussions de Strasbourg, a group I know well and have admired for years". Martial Solal
Creation : 24 February 2011 at Koerner Hall, Toronto, CA Commissioner: Soundstreams, Canada Council for the Arts et le Royal Conservatory of Music Musicians: 6 percussionnists Duration: 15' Publishing: Canadian Music Center
"HEX is scored for 6 percussionists, its musical design uses six-note harmonic pillars and uses a large 35 note scale comprised of 6 sets of 6 notes (two of the sets have an overlapping note, thus the 35 note scale). Originally I had planned to write the work in 6 sections. However, as the trajectory of the piece developed, this changed to single free-flowing movement in 3 main sections. Notions of superstition around numbers fascinate me. What is perhaps most intriguing is that such superstitions are found in every culture throughout known history, up to and including modern society. Consider the hysteria surrounding the upcoming “12/12/12” – a date which even reasonable and educated people are prone to speculating: will a date with this sequence of numbers bring about the end of the world? We, as humans, seem to be inherently susceptible to such notions. The word Hex, literally, to curse, and its corresponding digit 6, encapsulate this tendency perfectly: 666 – the “number” of the “beast”. Superstition; Luck; Belief; Intuition; Sixth Sense: ingredients in the creative process. The work begins with all 6 percussionists playing keyboard instruments, with the two marimbas each having multiple musicians playing on them, as is traditional in Guatemalan marimba playing. The drive of this section is a rhythmic cycle that unifies the entire work. The 2nd part of the work, slower in pacing, features a mixture of miscellaneous percussion instruments and keyboard instruments. This section showcases an antiphonal vibraphone duet. The duet is then incorporated with dance-like interjections from the previous section which prompt virtuosic “trading 2’s” solos. The solo section concludes with a frenetic wall of sound from the ensemble, which brings us to the 3rd and final section of the work. In the final section, the musicians pick up and begin to drum on sheets of heavy-gauged aluminum foil, which makes a beautiful but delicate metallic sound when played. All of the musicians converge onto the vibraphones as they ritualistically, and perhaps superstitiously, drum on the foil. Soon the foil is applied to the vibraphone bars (creating “prepared vibraphones”) and the drumming gradually becomes more intense. Through this drumming section the foil gets beaten down into the bars, dramatically altering the sound of the vibraphone. The work reaches its conclusion after a giant crescendo, where the percussionists tear the foil off the vibraphones and slowly crumple it, creating a transformed resonance that ends the work". Andrew Staniland
The text of the Belgian poet Henri Michaux, in his roughness and corrosive violence, in his hardness, keeps all its purity without the music ever trying to illustrate or comment on it. The score of Milan Stibilj is conceived as a Passacaglia, on a rhythmic theme that explodes and disintegrates in the central part of the work. The "climax" is located on the fragment that gave its title to the work, "Épervier de ta faiblesse, domine". From one end to the other, reign serious and disturbing sonorities, elemental smashes that very skillfully transpose the virile and tense atmosphere of Michaux's poetry. Épervier was premiered at the Zagreb Biennale of Contemporary Music in 1965, where it was most successful. Milan Stibilj, born in 1929 in Ljubjana, studied psychology before working on various musical disciplines in Zagreb, the University of Utrecht and with his compatriot Milko Kelemen. After signing a symphony in 1961, Congruences for piano and orchestra in 1963, Impressions for flute, harp and strings the same year, he deliberately turned to the most advanced research of the young school. He then gave Assimilation for violin solo in 1965 (awarded in Belgrade the following year), Contemplation for oboe and orchestra, and, later, for the Zagreb Biennial, a Slovenian Requiem for tenor, choir and orchestra.
Creation : Royan Festival, 1975 Duration : 38' Musicians : 6 percussionists and music boxes Publisher : Stockhausen Verlag
The idea for "Musik im Bauch" - Music in the Belly - came to Stockhausen from an episode in which his little daughter Julika, then aged two, to whom he said "you have music in your belly", began by laughing heartily and then, in an increasingly spasmodic manner, ended up crying and laughing at the same time, shouting "music in the belly, music in the belly"! Seven years later, in 1974, Stockhausen conceived the work as we know it today from melodies that each correspond to a sign of the zodiac. There are a total of twelve other melodies (one per sign), but each performance requires only three of these melodies - so there are several possible versions of this work. Everything that the performers (who appear to the audience as dolls or automatons) will play, consists exclusively of these three melodies. One of them will be played very slowly for the duration of the work by two performers on the marimba, and the three melodies on the plate bells by a third musician, also for the duration of the work. During this time, the other instruments play isolated motifs and sounds and play the melodies simultaneously in different tempi. In this way, the three melodies are communicated, explained to the audience sound by sound, motif by motif and finally played to them in their entirety. For the performances at the Théâtre de la Ville, as was the case for the premiere in Royan in 1975, 'Aquarius' (Aquarius), Leo and Capricorn will be heard. Each of the twelve melodies has its own character, as well as a dominant note; the first is Aquarius, its dominant is E flat; Pisces, the second with E, and so on by chromatic ascension until the sweetest, Capricorn, with D, passing through Leo at the opposite of Aquarius with A. The man who has "music in his belly" is called Miron, named after those men for whom, if we are to believe Jacob Lorber and his statement on the Enchanted World of Neptune, music is the art form that best suits their character: the Miron men are so much in love with each other that they would suffer anything rather than risk offending each other in the least.
Titles of the parties : Aquarius Pisces Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo Libra Scorpio Sagittarius Capricorn
About the work: Tierkreis is a set of melodies about the signs of the zodiac. There are several versions: for any instrument as a solo or duo, in a free instrumental combination. Each piece is presented in two ways: one as a solo melody (sometimes with a text by Stockhausen), the other with a polyphonic instrumental accompaniment (presence of chords). The performers can alternate the polyphonic and/or melodic versions as they wish. There is a version for chamber orchestra, a version for music boxes that can accompany voices (soprano, alto, tenor or bass) and a version for clarinet and piano. From this set of pieces, Stockausen will develop ″Sirius″, a cycle of pieces based on the four seasons, as well as other pieces. Guide de la musique de chambre (Fayard 1989)
Creation : 30/05/2006 – Jay Gottlieb, Percussions de Strasbourg. France, Strasbourg, Rhine Opera Musicians : for main piano and five percussionists Duration : 14'
One day, bored by the lack of ideas (working without a basic text is too abstract for my head), I wrote down practically in one go everything the piano would play. There were about fifteen minutes of piano music. And from this material, I began to enlarge the sound of the piano by means of the instruments that Jean-Paul Bernard had patiently presented to me and recorded. But the mayonnaise didn't take. One day, I had an image: as in an open-heart operation, five percussionists were fiddling around inside a piano. It was the missing link. From this image the piece wrote itself. I called it "Toy" because for me percussion and the piano have something archetypal about childhood. I have the impression that my music sounds like a huge, noisy toy. Oscar Strasnoy
Creation : 19/06/2014, Paris, University Paris 8 Duration : 5'
The title is inspired by a short story by the Brazilian writer Machado de Assis. Almas Agradecidas. At the end of the fourth act it started to rain lightly; in the middle of the fifth act the rain became more violent. When the show ended, each family got into its car; the few who were waiting for a truce, under their umbrellas, found a solution by rolling up their skirts. This piece was composed as part of the research carried out in the Master's programme, the subject of which is the digital modelling of real sounds for mixed real-time composition. Les âmes remerciées is situated in a fantastic discourse based on the digital and instrumental synthesis of recognisable "cliché sounds" which, when placed in a spatial musical context, are transformed according to a virtualisation and a progressive deformation of reality.
Creation: 23 March 1975 - Festival de Royan Dedicated to: Percussions de Strasbourg Commissioner: Ministère de la Culture / Festival de Royan Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 18' Publisher: Durand - Universal
This work, which begins with the primitive acts of Percussion and Scream, continues in the second part with the negation of this same act. Here, the act of percussion is very limited. Could we not perceive the serenity of the Soul in the continuous vibration of the instruments? From afar, one can barely hear the drums of the popular festival, as if the men were joining in by striking the instruments themselves and thus realising the song of the breath of life.
Commissioner: Ministry of Culture / Direction of Music Dedicated to: Percussions de Strasbourg / Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg Creation: 18/09/1984, Festival Musica, Strasbourg Musicians: 6 percussionists Duration: 20 to 25' Publisher: Editions transatlantiques
Tourbillons was conceived from the idea of the spacialisation of the performers, by the confrontation of two forces: the percussionists with their dry sounds opposed to the more continuous fibre of the orchestra. The six soloists of the Percussions de Strasbourg encircle the orchestra, which unleashes a calm and peaceful universe, in large, highly unified layers of sound. From this space, reminiscent of a peaceful nature, the refined timbres of the percussion instruments burst forth like a proliferation of sounds in the silence. Yoshihisa Taïra himself defines his aesthetic as follows: "Around us floats an infinity of sounds, some of which touch us more intensely than others. For me, starting to make music is equivalent to listening attentively to each of these sounds that I have retained. Music is a living, concrete truth. An emotion close to nature. Yoshihisa Taïra is inhabited by "sounds carried by the wind, sounds of diverse and distant origins, sounds of nature, rumours of waves, chimes mixed together".
Creation : 25 October 1992 at the Semaines Musicales Internationales d'Orléans Duration : 15'
The silence after the end of the vibration of the instruments (extinction of the sound), occupies an important place in this piece. "Trichromie" contrasts the morning silence of the temple courtyard with the strength of the earth and nature, illustrated by the presence of skin instruments, such as the large taiko drum, at the end of the work.
Toru Takemitsu's Rain Tree combines a wonderful percussion trio with some very effective lighting to produce one of the most dramatic percussion pieces ever created. Rain Tree is a joy to experience not only as the performer but to the audience as well. "It is called the 'Rain Tree' because it seems to make it rain. Whenever it rains at night, throughout the following morning the tree makes drops fall from all its richly growing leaves. While the other trees quickly dry out after the rain, the Rain Tree, because its leaves, no bigger than fingertips grow so closely together, can store up raindrops in its leaves. Truly an ingenious tree!" - quoted from "Atama no ii Ame no Ki" (The Ingenious Rain Tree) by Kenzaburo Oe (from the score) Instrumentation - Player A: Marimba (4.0 octave), 3 crotales (F#, Bb, C low octave) Player B: Marimba (4.0 octave), 3 crotales [A (below middle C), Ab, B low octave] Player C: Vibraphone, 11 crotales [B (below middle C), Eb, E, F, F#, G, Ab, A low octave - C#, F, C# high octave]
Commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and its music director
Seiji Ozawa, From me flows what you call Time is a perfect example of Takemitsu's particular blend of East and West. Performed on the occasion of Carnegie Hall's centenary, the work is meant to spiritually reflect the century of music that has "flowed" through the venue. Takemitsu took the evocative title from a poem "Clear Blue Water" by his friend, Japanese poet Makoto Ooka. Central to this work are the individual performers of the Toronto-based percussion ensemble Nexus, who performed the premiere. For Takemitsu, each of the five members was made to represent an aspect of the Tibetan Buddhist principle of "Wind Horse," an image conjured from the notion of the enlightened human being "riding" Nature. At the premiere performance on October 19, 1990, five colored ribbons, representing the five natural phenomena of water (blue), fire (red), earth (yellow), wind (green), and sky (white) linked the performers to bells placed about the theater. This effect, as well as the huge array of world percussion (including Japanese temple bowls placed cleverly on top of timpani drums, Indonesian wooden angklungs, and Pakistani Noah bells, to name a few) infuse the work with deep solemnity and an atmosphere of ritual.A solo flute intones a delicate phrase whose initial 5-note motive becomes an idée fixe as it is passed between instruments throughout the work. This opening phrase, named in the score "A Breath of Air," turns out to be an invocation, inviting the soloists to enter the hall. Once the players have reached their positions, tremolo cellos and basses emote a "Premonition." A chorus of Caribbean steel drums bring a brief "Plateau," and a repeating marimba figure gives way to a section curiously titled "Curved Horizon." "The Wind Blows" sets harps into wispy glissandos and an active, quasi-Arabic solo cello theme portrays a momentary desert "Mirage."As the piece proceeds, there are several opportunities for the percussionists to improvise around a loosely grouped series of notes. One of these extended improvisations, featuring hollowed-out log drums, gives way to an expansive statement portentously titled "The Promised Land." The seldom-heard oboe d'amore (imported from the Baroque era) leads us into "Life's Joys and Sorrows," in which desperately Romantic gestures disappear into thin air as quickly as they arrived. Another improvisatory section featuring a Turkish darabukkah drum and tom-toms leads to a simple "Prayer" for the closing moments of the work whose sound takes on an unexpectedly three-dimensional perspective. -- Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli is an Emmy-nominated composer and has served as the Los Angeles Philharmonic Publications Assistant.
Simple but colossal! This is the American composer's best-known piece, requiring the performer to play it consistently from its quietest point to its loudest point and back again - a fascinating exploration of sound, volume and a demonstration of the hypnotic power of musical drones.
Creation : 07/09/1974, Fête de l'Humanité, La Courneuve, France Musicians : 6 percussionists and orchestra
It is an oratorio composed on the texts of Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet, ambassador in Paris of Chile of the Popular Unity. The work was composed in 1971/72, and Neruda had the joy of attending the first rehearsals in 1972, before returning (for a last trip) to his country where his death followed that of Allende for some time. The parallel destinies of the two peoples intersect and come together in the common work of the poet and composer. The musical premiere took place on 7 September 1974 (with the participation of the Percussions de Strasbourg), at the Fête de l'Humanité, at a time when Chile was locked in a long and terrible night, from which Greece had just emerged. The Canto General will be the gift brought back from exile by the composer to salute his newfound freedom. Sung in Spanish (for Theodorakis insisted on keeping Neruda's original text) by Maria Farandouri and Petros Pandis, the Canto General reminds the Greeks how fragile their luck remains, and that the ordeals, by ending, have already reappeared elsewhere, perpetrated by the same hands. Musically, the work consists of thirteen parts, some very short, others very important. These different parts speak of Latin America, its people, the power and importance of nature in everyone's life. Birds with their strength and colours; the wind that brings the scents of the earth, the sea, tobacco, and also seeds and life; the insurgent peoples, with a hope that gives them the strength to fight for freedom. With these few elements, it is clear that the work has little to do with the sacred oratorios such as Bach or Häendel have left us. The Canto General is almost a return, in content if not in form, to the early works of the 17th century, featuring allegorical characters: time, life, the world… It is a great hymn to Freedom. The orchestration includes 2 pianos, 3 bouzoukis that can be replaced by flutes, a classical guitar, a 12-string guitar, an electric guitar, a bass guitar, 6 percussion instruments and timpani, with, of course, a mezzo soprano and a baritone solo, as well as a mixed double heart. Canto General is dedicated "to the memory of the pianist Yannis Didilis, my faithful collaborator and friend, the soul of my popular orchestra since its creation in 1960.
Creation : 27/03/2009 - Abbaye de Royaumont, France Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 12'
« This piece is inspired from « Ama » that is a number of « Mizumi Dengaku-No play » in Ikeda village in Fukui prefecture. Mizumi’s Noh is constituted of strange programs that the before half is Dengaku, the second half is Noh. Dengaku is a kind of the archetype of Noh. « Ama » is the last number of Dengaku’s part, and it is played with unique mask. It takes a bridge part between fore and rear with characteristics of Dengaku’s motions and styles of Noh. The heart of this piece is musical embodiment of hybrid texture in « Ama ».
Création : 06/10/2018, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, France Duration : 60' Command : Percussions de Strasbourg and the Musica Festival Musicians : 10 percussionists, and many amateur musicians.
Isochronous: the term may be off-putting at first. The dictionary defines it as "taking place in equal intervals of time". But in Franck Tortiller's hands, this not very poetic notion takes on an exhilarating playful dimension. The idea is to play with the number 80: eighty beats per minute, the "beat of a healthy heart", as the project's project manager jokes. The regular impacts of the instruments first impose an implacable tempo. Then, through subtle rhythmic modulations, this pulse evolves, decelerates, accelerates to a frenzy, while remaining underpinned by the cadence of eighty beats per minute. This dream of taming time goes hand in hand with a blaze of timbres and harmonies, in which keyboards (vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, electronic keyboard) play a leading role. This is hardly surprising from F. Tortiller, a virtuoso vibraphonist whose improvisations are based on a technique forged during his solid classical studies. However, the group is not motivated by the desire to showcase 'his' instrument, but by the desire to renew the sound of the traditional big band. The percussion-keyboards, usually treated as soloists, form here a real section with unprecedented colours, and join with the other "strikers, punchers, caressers, dancers who breathe without blowing". Combining the directive nature of the writing with the freedom of improvisation, mixing experienced musicians with up-and-coming practitioners, Isokrony 2 illustrates the phrase of Françoise Sagan that F. Tortiller chose as his credo: "Youth is the only reasonable generation. "
Creation : 29/09/1987, Musica Festival, Strasbourg, France Command of French Ministry of Culture (Direction de la Musique) Dedicated to : Les Percussions de Strasbourg (25th anniversary) Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 23' Publisher : Editions Salabert
For me, the world of 20th century percussion is a jungle in terms of both the richness of the materials and the multiple sonorities of this fabulous orchestral palette. However, far from wanting to play only with colour effects, I preferred, in this work, to clearly delimit all this sound potential in order to focus on a style closer to a certain expressionism. As an admirer of African percussion, which seems to be one of the cradles of a new musical explosion, I wanted to rediscover the sense of 'feeling' that characterises it. In the three parts of this piece, rhythmic, melodic and timbral developments remain closely linked to each other, and give this apparent simplicity, despite the swarming and proliferation of all the cells that are added on before disappearing. Finally, one should not see in this work any reference to Duke Ellington and the jazz of an era, Jungle Style is first and foremost, here, one of the percussive "Jungle Books" with its surges, its dark or scarlet colours, its anguished silences and its exalted repetitive tensions. Daniel Tosi
Creation : 14/03/2019, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg, France Musicians : minimum of 3 percussionists Command : Percussions de Strasbourg Duration : 8′
An air mass is an area of the atmosphere where the temperature and humidity conditions are homogeneous. The main motif that appears and is repeated throughout the piece is presented in tutti at the very beginning. The idea of rhythm is fundamental to Air Mass, which is constantly subject to distortion, pressure, breakdown and disorder. The composer did not specify a tempo, leaving the choice of tempo to the performers, who must maintain the same tempo from the beginning to the end of the piece. Designed for six voices, Air Mass can be performed without limit of instruments or number of performers. Wen-chi Tsai recommends a minimum of three performers but does not set a maximum. While keeping the three registers (high, medium and low), the performers have the freedom to choose the actual notes they want to play. They also have the possibility to change instruments and tone colours.
Creation : 11/11/1967, Südwestfunk, Baden-Baden Music : Edgar Varèse Number of musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 7 mn Composed: 1929 - 1931 Publisher (original version for 13 percusionnists) : COLFRANC MUSIC PUBLISHING CORP
Ionisation has taken its place among the masterpieces of XXth century music. It is the first piece in the history of western music for percussion alone, the first to consider percussion as true musical material - "the basis of rhythm, it is the immobile charged with its power" -.
Four basic cells which represent the sound material with which Edgar Varèse composes all his works, will disintegrate into over a hundred different rhythms, until the final explosion which is total disintegration.
We know that before Edgar Varèse, oriental folklore (mainly Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Balinese) made abundant use of percussion and, in this sense, we can borrow the slightest reference, however anecdotal from any folklore. By playing solely on the instrumental tones which he varies according to more and more complex combinations, he develops a new plasticity of sound, where, for the first time, sound appears to be treated scientifically, before the imagination or sensitivity can get a hold on it. Thus IONISATION represents an essential stage in this never-ending quest for new instrumental material, which can specifically feed and translate the inner world of sound that was the composer’s.
But it is also a work that reflects the urban environment that was dear to Edgar Varèse. Originally written for 13 percussionists and a conductor, IONISATION will be performed by the six Strasbourg percussionists, thanks to particular ways of making instruments (claves on a stand, pedal sirens, etc ...) which in no way mutilate the original version. This version for 6 percussionists was arranged by Georges Van Gucht, Strasbourg’s former Director of Percussion, with the composer’s agreement and was performed for the first time on 11 November 1967, on the Südwestfunk radio in Baden-Baden.
Workforce: 6 percussionists "Under the formal conception of a language "guided" by my interest in semiotics (semiology of the musical gesture), renewed from a cognitive point of view, this music explodes and a burst of strength emerges from it. From this burst a path opens up throughout the work through the evolution of the sign and the relationship between the signs inside and outside of themselves.
Semiotics is my discourse in this piece and the process, whose cycle is the sign, is the syntax.
This work is an illustration of a "world" coordinated by its own contradiction.
Chaotic, violent, blind and stupid contradiction, conscious and unconsciously guilty of the degeneration of musical material and language, where the results of the relations between signs become truths by its own force.
The title does not express a programmatic intention, but it gives me the energetic support to "exhale", with the strength of the timbre, the amplitude and the rhythm that the percussion can offer me, all my discontent. These beautiful elements, absorbed into the cyclical process that is itself the twisted element, thus participate in all the efforts leading to mutations, false solutions and "pretty little banal things".
Then there is nothing to do, nothing but wait for the end, any end, but quickly, an end.
Mental underdevelopment; Homage to my Country: the musical aspects, mixed with the cyclical aspects, emerge from a "virtuoso" writing that forces the performers to be accomplices of the complexity, to give the piece the appearance of a logical flow of material. I manipulate this material with a cause-and-effect technique, where nothing happens without a consequence and all consequences become causes again.
This reflects my thinking and this is how I conceive of the major tool with which I 'build my art'."
French State command Creation : 30/09/2005, Festival Musica, Strasbourg Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 15’ Publisher : Edizioni Suvini Zerboni
Memorial Art Show I. heterophonic #2 II. harmonic domains III. filtering #2
"There is a mode of individuation very different from that of a person, a subject, a thing, or a substance. We reserve for it the name of hecceity. A season, a winter, a summer, an hour, a date have a perfect individuality which lacks nothing, although it is not confused with that of a thing or a subject. They are hecceities, in the sense that everything in them is a relation of movement and rest between molecules or particles, a power to affect and to be affected."
Memorial Art Show, a French state commission, is written for Les Percussions de Strasbourg, and dedicated to Fausto Romitelli as well as to the hecticness of his musical imagination.
Command : French State / Percussions de Strasbourg / Musica Creation : 04/10/2000, with the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne de Montréal, Musica Festival, Strasbourg, France Musicians : For instrumental ensemble and 6 percussion instruments Duration : 18'
Written as the Christian world celebrates the 2000th anniversary of Christ's birth, Journey of the Magi recounts one of the most mysterious and least documented stories surrounding the first Christmas. Of the four gospels, only Matthew tells of the journey to Bethlehem of three astrologers who came from the East, apparently guided by a star, to worship at the feet of the new king.
Many theologians have suggested that the story is more symbolic than real, and indeed many classical artists and poets have played on the effect of this symbolism. The same is true for me: Journey of the Magi is not so much about the simple journey of the three astrologers as it is about the spread of a religion, like the pull of the moon on the waters, about the need for religious belief of one kind or another, about the tendency of people to band together around a common faith.
Consequently, Journey of the Magi evolves from a state of chaos (darkness) to a state of order (light), which is translated musically in several ways, the first being the spatial distribution of the performers. In the course of the work, the musicians move from a state of maximum dispersion around the audience - at the opening - to a state of maximum integration on the stage - at the end. The music follows this same pattern, from the most diffuse and blurred at the opening to the most concentrated and precise at the end. It is like watching the formation of a crystal or an ice cube in fast motion. The initial state of chaos (darkness) is marked by the use of five conches which are heard to respond to the call of the horn which opens the work; they represent the sea, the flood, and therefore chaos. Then, five principal musicians are deployed around the audience; they represent a star, four of whose points are in constant devolution around the fifth - the horn player - who alone remains fixed. Of these other points, both the position and the instrument change as the star gradually reforms on the stage.
At the heart of the music is the continuous thread of a melody based on the transcription of the configuration (and geometric permutation) of eight constellations associated with the period of our winter solstice (and thus, symbolically, that of the birth of Christ). This melodic thread moves continuously from one point of the star to the next in an ever-changing pattern, allowing the listener to identify the progressive evolution of the star's shape and movement. At centre stage, three musicians represent the Magi - a piano (partially prepared) and two percussionists playing gongs and other instruments with a rich sound and complex spectrum, representing the exotic gold and spices that the Magi bring as offerings. These musicians, of course, are not moving; we witness it through their eyes as they head west, guided, as a sailor would, by the signs in the sky, constantly calculating their position and direction by the constantly moving stars around them.
Creation : 02/10/2007 - Atelier du Rhin, Colmar, France Co-production : Les Percussions de Strasbourg & l'Atelier du Rhin An initiative of Jean-Paul Bernard and Matthew Jocelyn Musical composition : James Wood Adaptation et texte : Yves Lenoir Adapted and written by : Catriona Morrison Highlighting : Pierre Peyronnet Scenography and costumes : Anne Werey Musicians : 2 actors Patrice Verdeil alternating with Yves Lenoir + 3 percussionists alternating with Jean-Paul Bernard, Claude Ferrier, Bernard Lesage, Keiko Nakamura, François Papirer Duration : 50'
Le petit bossu Musical show for young audiences from 6 years old.
This is a musical show for young audiences from 6 years old.
This musical show is inspired by The Story of the Little Hunchback, taken from one of the tales of the 25th night of the Thousand and One Nights. One night, a little hunchback is invited to a tailor's house, he chokes on a fishbone and dies... This is how this story full of twists and turns begins, the tailor panicking, drops him off at a Jewish doctor's who himself throws him to his Muslim cook neighbour and the latter disposes of the body in a dark alley. The hunchback's body is beaten up by a drunken Christian merchant. Arrested by the police, the merchant must be hanged, but the protagonists at the beginning of the story take turns declaring themselves guilty of the crime. Not knowing who to hang, the crowd gets tired of this endless story, the sky darkens, and miraculously, the little hunchback sneezes and spits out the fish's backbone. All this to end up singing and dancing to have emerged safe and sound from a very strange story of which he has no memory.
I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do that again, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do that again.
I'm not sure I'll ever be able to do that again.
James Wood, the composer, uses the religious references in this tale as musical elements to deal with. Each of the main characters is represented by a specific and easily identifiable group of instruments. In this way, the sounds are used as tools for the narrative. Catriona Morrison, the play's director, explains that the story of The Little Hunchback, or "man's hellish race to escape death", is written in close and interdependent collaboration between music, stage and speech. The three percussionist musicians will meet and play with one actor, then another, a sort of kaleidoscope of characters and rhythms
Creation : 24/07/1985 - Strasbourg, France Command of French Ministry of Culture (Direction de la Musique) Dedicated to : les Percussions de Strasbourg Musicians : 6 percussionists + vocal choir Duration : 10' Editeur : Salabert
"We have (=Idmen) told lies like truths" The Muses: verse 27
"…. we also know how to tell truths similar to lies" Iannis Xenakis
"IDMEN" consists of three sequences.
The percussion uses a range of drums from several pairs of bongos to bass drums, timpani, toms of different sizes, tumbas and 6 sets of wood blocks.
Creation : 09/09/1969, Persepolis, Iran Music and conception : Iannis Xenakis Sponsor : Ministère de la Culture (Direction de la Musique) et Festival de Persepolis Number of musicians : 6 percussionnists Duration : 35' Publisher : Salabert
Persephassa is a piece for six percussionists composed by Iannis Xenakis in 1969. The piece was commissioned for the first-ever Shiraz Festival (organized by the Empress of Iran), held at the historic desert site of Persepolis. The title refers to the goddess Persephone, "the personification of telluric forces and of transmutations of life."
Persephassa gains much of its effect from having the six percussionists distributed around the audience. The treatment of space as a musical parameter is one of the most important preoccupations of Xenakis’ music, particularly in his works of the mid-to-late 1960s. The dramatic impact of utilizing the performance space in this manner is evident many passages throughout the piece in which accents or imitative rhythms are passed around the ensemble.
The percussionists use a wide range of instruments and sound effects during the piece, including sirens, maracas, and pebbles, along with an arsenal of drums, wood blocks, cymbals, and gongs.
World Premiere : 3rd of May 1979, with the Ballet du Rhin, Mulhouse, FR Re-creation : 24th of June 2011 with Ensemble l'Abrupt - Alban Richard, Festival Montpellier Danse Commissioned by: City of Strasbourg Dedicated to: Percussions de Strasbourg On stage : 6 percussionists et 6 dancers Edition : Salabert
The term the Pleiades normally refers to the cluster of sparkling stars in the right shoulder of the Taurus constellation. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Pleiades are visible only in winter. With a telescope dozens of stars can be seen, of which only six can be picked out by the naked eye as well as a slight milky mist in the same area. According to Greek mythology, this cluster of stars represents the seven sisters or Pleiades, servants of Artemis, Goddess of the Moon. One of the sisters, Electra, was said to have disappeared in the form of a comet, tormented with sorrow after the siege and destruction of the city of Troy built by her son Dardanus, victim of the famous ruse of the Wooden Horse of Troy. The whiteness and the mist in which the Pleiades appear is said to be the result of the tears wept by the six sisters abandoned by Electra. Iannis Xenakis (born in 1922) composed "Pléiades" over the years 1978 -79 on a commission from the City of Strasbourg. This piece was played for the first time by the Percussions de Strasbourg at a concert with the Ballet du Rhin on 3 May 1979. The title Pléiades refers to the six members of the Percussions de Strasbourg. But for Xenakis, the reference to the multiplicity of existence seems to be more important. The very essence of this piece rests on the fact that it cannot be limited to one simple definition. "Pléiades" is already full of very rich sounds. The instruments used range from keyboards to various percussion instruments including the "sixxen" - a percussion instrument specially created for this composition. The piece is divided into four parts whose titles refer to the materials from which the instruments are made and to the sounds that the latter produce. Listening to the sixxen immediately makes us think of the Indonesian gamelan, in particular those from Bali, and of the instruments used in festive music in Japan, of Mediterranean church bells and Alpine cowbells. The richness of the sixxen’s timbre is in a way the expression of the different types of life led by Man and of which the metals are an integral part. Whilst giving absolute freedom to the concept of a multiplicity of existence, Xenakis has succeeded in imposing a rule of diversity and unity in the temporal structure of his quest for the creation of a single, unique composition.
The only source of these polyrythmics is the idea of periodicity, repetition, duplication, recurrence, faithful, pseudo-faithful and unfaithful copying.
Rebonds is constructed in two main sections A and B, whose order of playing is not fixed. They use a slightly different instrumentarium: the first uses only skins, while the second introduces the five woodblocks in addition. Unlike the other works in this programme, Rebonds is part of a group of works (Pleiades, Idmen B), in which a greater rhythmic regularity asserts itself. Part A evolves in an irregular musical structure, leading to a kind of perpetual motion. Part B, on the other hand, is characterised by a regular bongo rhythm which is broken by the bass drum with staggered accents, the five woodblocks interrupting the discourse several times in a faster tempo. With very few exceptions, the nuance is always fff.
The writing that Xenakis puts the percussion through does not seek solutions in resonance, it deliberately limits itself to impact. As with Varèse, the great precursor in this field, the use of percussion is one of the multiple means Xenaxis uses to get off the beaten track of traditional pitches. If a reference had to be chosen in this musical conception, it is less in our civilisation but rather in the memory of extra-European music that Xenakis' work seems to be rooted, by its very primitive violence. The work of Xenakis seems to be rooted in the memory of extra-European music, in its primordial violence.
I'm not sure how much of the work I'm doing is in the realm of the "old"….
Creation : 2006, Royaumont, France Duration : 8' For 3 percussionists
The initial project was the creation of sound images. During this residency with the percussions de Strasbourg, I had the opportunity to compose a new piece for trio with three different families of percussion instruments.
Each musician has a set made up of woods, or skins or metal, I have linked these three families to three sound images, wood-tempo, skins-fluctuations, metal-dynamic. Each sound image is worked so as to develop each timbre as much as possible. For each of them, it's a certain way of altering the perception of each timbre. In the first section the woodwinds vary on the tempo, in the second section the skins work on the density and in the third section the metals modulate on the dynamics.
These three mixed sound images cause a polyphony of timbre and rhythm then gradually synchronize.
Creation : 23/03/1975, Royan Festival Dedicated to : Percussions de Strasbourg Command : French Ministry of Culture / Royan Festival Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 18' Publisher : Durand - Universal
This work, which begins with the primitive acts of Percussion and Screaming, continues in the second part with the negation of this same act. Here, the act of percussion is very limited. Could we not perceive the serenity of the Soul in the continuous vibration of the instruments? From afar, one can barely hear the drums of the popular festival, as if the men were joining in by striking the instruments themselves and thus realizing the song of the breath of life. Similarly, the six percussionists freely find the breath of the body. Through the repeated rhythmic ostinato, I wanted to confirm in my own way the essential pleasure of the body. I dedicate this work to the Percussions de Strasbourg, with whom I had an unforgettable musical experience during the rehearsals. Yoshihisa Taïra
Creation : 18/09/1984, Festival Musica, Strasbourg, France Command : French Ministry of Culture Dedicated to : Percussions de Strasbourg / Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra Musicians : 6 percussionists Duration : 20-25' Publisher : Editions transatlantiques
Tourbillons was conceived from the idea of the spacialisation of the performers, through the confrontation of two forces: the percussion with its dry sounds which opposes the more continuous fibre of the orchestra. The six soloists of the Percussions de Strasbourg encircle the orchestra, which unleashes a calm and peaceful universe, in large, highly unified layers of sound. From this space, reminiscent of a peaceful nature, the refined timbres of the percussion instruments burst forth like a proliferation of sounds in the silence. Yoshihisa Taïra himself defines his aesthetic as follows: "Around us floats an infinity of sounds, some of which touch us more intensely than others. For me, starting to make music is equivalent to listening attentively to each of these sounds that I have retained. Music is a living, concrete truth. An emotion close to nature. Yoshihisa Taïra is inhabited by "sounds carried by the wind, sounds of diverse and distant origins, sounds of nature, rumours of waves, chimes mixed together".
Creation : 25/10/1992, International Musical Weeks in Orléans Duration : 15'
The silence after the end of the vibration of the instruments (extinction of the sound), occupies an important place in this piece. "Trichromie" contrasts the morning silence of the temple courtyard with the strength of the earth and nature, illustrated by the presence of skin instruments, such as the large taiko drum, at the end of the work.
Creation : le 2/10/1994, Dresden, Germany Duration : 19' Dedicated : Les Percussions de Strasbourg
We have, through tradition and science, a relatively accurate definition of what life is, what life should be, in terms of what we consider living and worth living. We have the same approach (without reserve) to music.