Catalog › Solo music
Mar 15, 2018
Composed for one trombonist, video and electronics, Outer space is questioning space: an augmented space with the development of new technologies, in which the modern individual escapes risking to get lost. This vertigo is here expressed by the video: in the back of the stage, it opens a window on a virtual space, enclosed with four black walls, inhabited by three screens which show encrypted images.
The trombonist’s movements being coordinated with the camera motion in the video, the audience discovers this cold, tight and uninhabitable space filled and congested with smog, blinding lights and, soon, avatars of the musician until it reaches the final saturation point. The trombone, as a music instrument and camera, reveals its third identity: demiurgic hole, swallowing one by one clones of the musician during a burlesque scene. In the video, nothing remains except, frozen on the screens, a frontal view of the trombone’s bell, threatening, pointing the audience.
Video : full recording
Nov 23, 2017
Commissioned by the Festival Aujourd’hui Musiques, Mad Max has been developed in the frame of Gekipe Project (a specific device composed by sensors and infrared camera analyzing gestures) for the percussionist Philippe Spiesser. The show is based upon the famous character, crazy and completely out of control biker straight out of the Hollywood Studios.
In the first part, he is staged on his all-powerful bike (which is here virtual, by recourse of sensors) and plunges the audience in his megalomania. The second part reveals a seducing Mad Max (trying his luck with a bass drum…). Finally, last part is characterized by an unlikely dialogue between a virtuoso musician and an other legend of the cinema : Darth Vader. The uninterrupted breathing of this character creates a background for an ultra-quick vibraphone solo, final race of this musical fable…
Video : extracts of the show
Nov 18, 2017
Commissioned by Festival Musiques Démesurées, Série Rouge is based on the heart as an organ, a sound material, engine of the human machine, bringing the red flows pf blood. The musical idea, in particular the material for the electronic part as well as the rhythmic dimension, leans on this « elementary molecule » which constitutes the heart rate.
But like all the other works constituting this cycle, a semantic or pseudo-narrative dimension interfere in the project. Blood, coming out from corpses, spreading from cattle’s neck in the slaughterhouses in Strike by Eisenstein, paving the stage in Je suis Sang by the choreographer Jan Fabre, or surging and covering the ground, nightmare vision in Stanley Kubrik’s Shining… Many different images, energies, memories which draw the lines of a path going from a relative stability to a chaotic, violent and archaic state.
Nov 15, 2015
Writing for solo instruments has always been a very important part of my production. The main reason is probably that it enables me to dig quite deeply into a specific instrument as well as developing some close relationship with musicians. The title of this piece focus on this « introspection » of the instrument [anatomy] and the aim is to "enter" as deep as possible inside of its sonorous and visual aspect. Harpsichord is indeed a very complex and rich object in terms of manufacturing and the closest we look at it the more interesting phenomenons we can get. Some time ago, I was attending to a contemporary art exhibition in Paris and I discovered the work of Yuri Ancarani, a young italian artist who was using, as a principal matter of his video, some medical footages done with microscopic cameras inside of human body. What was amazing in this work was the fact that we were able to be completely out of any empathy due to the abstract beauty of the pictures which were leading us far away from the subject itself.
When we observe the complexity of an harpsichord mechanism, it is fascinating to see how many little pieces of matter are linked together in order to make it work in a proper way. Such as human body, there are thousands of interactions for a simple gesture. This very close observation, opens some doors of a new perception of the instrument and this was the starting point of my experimentations as I started to work on this composition.
Beyond this « observation process » I also decided to push some limits of manipulation while improvising on the instruments. As I was both recording the sounds and filming some actions, I just wanted to cross the limits of the « normal » way of playing the harpsichord by using objects and going beyond the resistance of the mechanism. Maybe because harpsichord is this kind of « precious » instrument which we shouldn’t hurt of damage ? So far, this investigation beyond the limits became the strategy to develop this project and the nature of the relation between the instrument on stage, the performer and the pictures on the screen.
Images extraites de la vidéo de concert
Jun 7, 2015
This piece has been conceived in collaboration with the Vietnamese / Swedish group « The Six Tones ». This ensemble consists of two Vietnamese traditional women musicians as well as Stefan Österjö, guitar player. Instead of writing a trio, I decided to work on a electric guitar solo, with a video including the two women musicians. When I started to shoot the video, I became concerned with more overarching questions, especially how, we as occidental, consider the oriental culture.
I started to see those two women as some archetype of Asian culture and I decided to look deeper into this subject. I did some research on the status of women in Asian countries, investigating their role in industrial production, army, entertainment etc… Some of the pictures I found on the Internet were totally scary, and I had this impression of a « post-human » world. The complex editing of the film is therefore based on some alternation between the two musicians who are treated as « neutral characters », simply looking at us and those pictures from the network demonstrating a critical statement of woman condition. In the film, we can observe also two slow motion landscapes showing the outside reality in a strange way. The first landscape is a view of an abandoned factory in Detroit, a symbol of economical collapse. The second is a montage of a devastated village after the tsunami in Fukoshima, a symbol of ecological collapse.
Disaster here creates another disaster there… maybe these are now the relations between occident and orient ? The musical layers have been composed as a counterpoint to the rhythmical patterns created by the imagery. The music can be minimalistic or very dense, sometimes quite independent from the video, sometimes precisely synchronized. All along the piece, the figure of the « guitar hero » is present as a self-icon, progressively damaged by the reflexive context (video). After the final sequence (Fukushima) a very cheap plastic guitar has replaced the sophisticated traditional instruments : a pathetic relic of some post-human world
Feb 5, 2014
I had the idea of this composition while reading some works by Samuel Beckett. As a playwright in particular, he gives us a message defined in terms of absurdity and characterized by a strong distrust of analysis and a disenchanted outlook on our world, human nature and its finitude.
This piece offers a possible continuation to Beckett's world and appears as a permanent dialogue between the saxophone and its surroundings. Nothing really happens here and however, if we pay attention, we'll realise that components have been stripped down and are scarce, nearly obsessional. We are confined in a world full of selective references (realistic sounds suggesting eventual situations) but which definitely remains suggestive rather than assertive. We have here a constant dialogue which reveals a state of tension as well as one of complicity.
The soundtrack seems to be embodied in a kind of fierce and significant character. We are drawn into a world full of conflicts, of fights, but which has also its sweet or blackly-humoured times. We are surrounded by pathetic radio ghosts, victims of mockery; we experience the joy that a «very free » jazz would give us as well as a great tension produced by the extremely distorted spectrum of the saxophone.
Everything here may seem unlikely, there could just be a tangle of situations sliding into one another ; meaningless and drooping energies, complex states opposed to a deep emptiness; nothing more than what is often at work in our dreams…
Nov 17, 2013
Piano & stereo soundtrack (2013) / 14’51
Série Bleue is the fifth score part of the "Séries" cycle. After Série Noire (based on thriller), Série Blanche (dedicated to absurd), Série-C (tribute to John Cage) and Série Rose (about pornography), this piece is directely inspired by my personal encounter with the blue monochromatic paintings from Yves Klein.
The idea was here to describe a minimalistic state but in which some resonances, echoes and tension progressively appear. The music starts very slowly and the material consists of one main chord and melodic patterns which are repeated and softly developped. Indeed, one can hear in the soundtrack some tiny accidents, some little cracks which will grow up and contaminate music - such as in Klein's painting. In the middle of the piece, a clear pulse appears and the music changes into a complete different color. It may be some kind of way to express some strange feeling linked with those monochomatic blues from Klein. Those paintings have the stange power to absorb ones mind and some escapism is somehow needed !
The electronic part is based mainly on electric bass sounds which were performed in studio and which are acting like a presence, next to the pianist. Those low sounds create some harmonic fundaments and lead the music to some electric counterpoints where energy is slow but powerfull.
Jul 14, 2013
Accordion & soundtrack (2012) / 18’38
This composition refers of course to Coppola's masterpiece, Apocalypse Now, which I discovered in a rather unusual way : I didn't actually see the film when it was originally released, but a few years later. I first listened to the soundtrack, on an old L.P(vinyl) which was quite damaged, spoilt with scratches to the extent that the voices of Willard and Colonel Kurtz were scarcely heard. Some time after, I read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad which Coppola adapted for his film and it was only a few years later that I saw the film in a poor suburban cinema.
What can I remember from this "Apocalypse" ?
A very efficient but completely out of control movement of the mind.., the feeling it was unbearable to listen to Kurtz's recorded voice at the beginning of the film... images of the hostile jungle and of the river, of man being lost… an impression of irrational power and a great emotion. It was a realistic and powerful lesson on war and its absurdity.
As I was beginning to work on this project, I came across that old vinyl and after listening to it, I felt it would be interesting to use that imperfect music full of scratches, so typical of old records.
Then, I started to make some links between the Apocalypse I was listening to, and this strange instrument, the accordion, an instrument which belongs to a bygone era, and which we still hear, as a French symbol in foreign films although the world it refers to is gone forever. And, in this way doesn't this instrument sound apocalyptic ?
Therefore, this piece is structured around two main themes: a rather nostalgic atmosphere created by extracts from accordion popular dance music and in the same time, a weird and uncontrolled energy in which one can still hear machine guns, screams and distorted guitar sounds.
This piece is dedicated to Pascal Contet.
First performance, Pascal Contet and Pierre Jodlowski, Clermont-Ferrand - 2012 © Yoann Sanson
Mar 9, 2012
Piano & stereo soundtrack (2012) / 13’52
Beeing part of my cycle for piano and tape music, "Série Rose" has been largely inspired by sex, pornography and love conversations... There is no point in expecting here a "pure" music that would be deprived of any expression or message : I have wanted this work to be deeply rooted in a suggestive and narrative process and I had no other intent than its evocative quality.
Roughly speaking, "Série Rose" tries to suggest that the fascination we feel for somebody, our attraction for his (her) body as well as his (her) mind and soul prevails on the crude instincts shown in a porn, second-class movie.
"Série Rose" takes you along a chaotic path interrupted by ambiguously coloured breaks ; we cling to a pulse and then get lost in imaginary conversations which may also have been taken from some referential movies, we are surrounded by voices and breathings, by sensual and pathetic groans.
What finally remains is only an art of time mingling hypothetical narration and musical energy. There is no other colour than this terrible pink, an indestructible and dreadful picture of love.
Performance of "Série Rose", by Tram Nguyen, Paris - 2013. © : Marikel Lahana
Mar 9, 2012
Piano & stereo soundtrack (2011) / 9’30
This work is part of the cycle "Series" for piano and soundtrack which I started in 2005 in close collaboration with Wilhelm Latchoumia. Its uniqueness is here to pay tribute to John Cage's prepared piano (here in his work "Daughters of the Lonesome Island"). Composing for this instrument implies to find a way to escape from identity of Cage's music intrinsically linked to the altered timbre of the instrument.
I have therefore chosen to work here with a very electric soundtrack, mainly carried out with a bass guitar. The first part is based on an alternance between two polar tones (E flat and G flat).
This opening, which develops slowly is folloed by a more "open area" with cadenzas in the low register (unprepared zone of the piano). Previously and carefully sampled, this piano is like "injected" into a soundtrack that borders areas rather dark, slow and tight, so much so that the reference to John Cage seems to disappear. Moreover, it is here that a loss seems relevant notion of honor ; the traces constituting always for me the starting point and not new paths already marked with Cage... The link is finally also that in the music itself, in humanity and contemplation that are in them-all the sounds of this piece.
Mar 12, 2011
M.C. Escher : Limite Circulaire N°1
This project is part of a cycle of works written around the principle of cumulative writing. This principle consists in using electronic resources to pile up the live-played sequences. In the other cumulative pieces I have written (« 60 loops », « 24 loops », « Série Blanche »...) everything that is played by the musicians is gradually frozen in time by a looping system. Therefore, the music that is created is the result of the pileups of successive elements. We are here in an inevitably repetitive sonic context, but unlike the american minimalist school, the pileup phenomenon is sometimes really excessive which leads out to processes of tension and to a strong dramaturgical perception.
« Limite Circulaire » (« Circular Limit »), by its length, explores many sides of these principles of pileup. My initial idea consisted in realizing recordings of specific ways of playing in order to extend the montage possibilities ; we have been looking for and recording exactly 1050 different sounds exploring, through 3 instruments (Bass flute, G flute, C flute), colors and tones effects (wind-driven sounds, noises of blowing), percussive effects (noises of keys, « slap » sounds, tongue-ram), harmonic effects (multiphonics). At this stage of research, we have determined 27 special fingering recorded by the three flutes and in a wide range of colors, lenghts and intensities. These 27 keys constitute a sort of compositional matrix present throughout the piece and which determine the unity.
Therefore, this is that already very specific material that served has a basis for accumulation processes, allowing me, through digital montage, to create the final score.
During the composition stage, by manipulating these already composed « sonic objetcs », I quickly thought of the painter Escher and most notably of his « Limite Circulaire I, II and III » series realized between 1958 and 1959. The principle here is very simple: one shape is offered in variety of forms on a circular surface with a zoom effect enlarging the central zones and scaling down the border zones. The look, as often in Escher's work, loves to lose itself between the perception of the detail and the global perception, loves to identify paths, play with these scaling games, resulting in a process that always is simple.
The music I have composed doesn't try to strictly reproduce the principle of Escher's paintings but it shares the same type of perception, here transposed from the spatial domain to the temporal domain. Pileups bring us to perceive the relation to time in a non-linear way because, in each section, some elements are being repeated over and over and it is by their stubborn presence that the others are perceived. The piece structures itself in many zones that alternatively exploit the perceptive effects produced by the accumulation: harmonic effects, spatial effects, rythmic effects...
With the exception of the technique of repeat of more or less long elements, there is no other treatment applied to the original sounds. Indeed, it was necessary, into this kind of project, to impose ourselves frameworks, play with the notion of limit even if we sometimes had to be trapped in an inextricable labyrinth which solutions to get out of were never simple. These 1050 sounds have been our work companions, some kind of entities that I would position in time as many possible points of a completely utopian sonic architecture...
This piece is dedicated to Cedric Jullion and Simon Jodlowski
Mar 9, 2011
Criogenesis is based on an inquiry related to the writing of natural harmonics. Taking the metaphor of "criogénèse", the music unfolds in a small area, confined mainly in scanning harmonic glissandi.
To do so, I opted for a writing system in which I separated the parameters of bow pressure and position of the left hand, also the attack of the bow, to ultimately consider these parameters in a context of polyphony. Normal ponticellos always played very close to the bridge are producing continuous tones with the main mode of writing.
The result of those scans and figures are, in the form of a metaphor, what might happen if we applied (which in itself has value only poetic, or stimulation of the imagination, of course !) the technique of "criogénèse" to the harmonic series of strings of the cello and then we discovered, after a freezing time ad. libitum, a matter still alive : a kind of "cello's initial substrate"...
This may be used as a framework for interpretation involving a particular attitude like scientific approach to the instrument.
Mar 9, 2011
"Série blanche" belongs to the "series" cycle devoted to piano works. This cycle which started with " Série noire" in 2005 was commissioned by the Orléans International Piano Competition.
In this cycle, each colour provides an opportunity to investigate a particular link of music with image. The latter may be cinematographic or mental ; it is a reference space, the writing starting point.
This project based on a cumulative writing principle develops the feeling of a meaningless,rather mechanical world. It might be considered as a possible transcription of "Un Roi Sans Divertissement ", a novel by Jean Giono that was published at the end of The Second World War. In this book and its film adaptation by François Leterrier, absurdity and violence are the result of man boredom.
There are pictures of white snow-covered landscapes around a grey village with its black figures . Red is added to this colour range only when blood is shed as if it were the only possible way of solving an absurd situation. Music, therefore, is characterized by an apparent nonchalance, by a sort of very simple sweetness, but the layers stack on, every recorded sign (ou mark ?) remaining and weaving the line of a crescendo that ends in excess. As Albert Camus did in "L'Etranger ", Giono wrote this book to say the people's lack of understanding when concentration camps were discovered.
I have written this music to tell the relentless mechanism which implies the disappearance of our perceptual processes and the gradual erosion to which we are submitted.
TRACES - Pictures
Some pictures or film can be screened in silence before the performance
Mar 8, 2011
This composition has been inspired by the thriller universe and more particularly by movies. I have actually tried to build a multi fictional space where characters, heroes of different films would meet and exchange. There may be a story and a possible direction to follow : A man is missing, the people looking after him find out he is the victim of a conspiracy, he has been trapped and will be forever cut off from those who love him.
The pianistic writing derives from these narrative issues and requires a highly concentrated material, made up here of three elements :
- a figure of three notes is used to begin with this composition and stress its transitions.
- very fast sets of chords are weaving chromatic lines, very intense trajectories which split up or, on the contrary, tighten in highly concentrated gestures.
- some chords sounding like bells to suggest an inner and suspended world.
Each of these elements is being developped and related to the soundtrack. The latter alternately suggests moments of great tension, of breaks and impossible conversations. A sense of humour and a hint to the notion of « cliché » are quite obvious here. The omnipresent voice-overs and referent noises in the soundtrack could make us believe in a film music.
It is actually the opposite as this composition is rather « a film of musics » : everyone here being able to use freely these sound-devoted spaces to imagine his or her own world.
Mar 7, 2011
The piece is trying to stage a singular object in the universe of the musician : the metronome. This "unit" of measurement usually accompanies the composer and performer in their stage of development and learning of a work and then it disappears at the time of the concert, giving way to an inaudible pulse and fluctuating.
In this music, on the contrary, the metronome is shown (small engine hitting the surfaces of the drums), imposing the mechanics of both static and fragile.
The music reveals itself as a construction game between man and the little mechanical arm...
Mar 7, 2011
This piece has been composed just after « People / Time », a chamber music work commissionned by the Donaueschingen festival in 2003. It shares with it a same interrogation about our society, our behaviors with time and money.
It is somehow a way for me to contest our economical system, where this subject becomes a kind of framework of the music.
The pieces starts with a wood cube sequence which symbolises a rudimentary object which contrats with technologies (motion capture, real-time video). Then the music starts with loops and cycles of rythmic patterns in which the presence of radio and movie sounds (mainly dialogs) are producing a second layer of perception for the audience, activating some collective memories. And the music starts to go faster and faster, just like what we do sometimes in our lives, as we are so frightened to loose time...
The video, from Vincent Meyer, is acting as an obsessionnal presence, creating a visual counterpoint of the theme of the project, a metaphor of drift.
Mar 4, 2011
The word "mixtion" is an old word which means mixture: "Heterogeneous elements are mixed and give birth to a new substance."
This composition has been imagined like a dialogue between the instrument and the sounds which surround it. It respectively investigates connections between pre-recorded sounds and sounds reacting in real time to the musician's playing. Here the saxophone reveals its numerous possibilities : sometimes in an expressive solo, somewhere else as a part of a jazzy polyphony, transformed sonorities which burst out in a quadriphonic space...
Listening to MIXTION is like discovering a many-sided town. Alchemy works here like the celebration of a possible difference : different elements might be linked together by often repeated touches of colour.
Mar 3, 2011
This performance may be compared to that of 2 actors in a play. Here we have two "characters" (the flute and the voice) and also two situations :
- Dialog : both characters are on the stage and after exchanging figures, establish a relationship in terms of seduction then of power struggle.
- No Dialog : communication is broken and each character withdraws into itself.
In this piece, the flute may sound swift and garrulous at times, delicate then violent at others. Its musical ranges and speeds keep changing while its tones may be either resonnant or muffled.It is also submitted to electronic transformations which fill up the acoustic space. The second character is provided by a voice which is here virtual and comes to us through the loud speakers.
Now whispered and then sung, now just talked and then amplified, it is changed into dynamic phenomenons and leads to harmonic fields but above all it tries to oppose the flute and reach autonomy. Dialog / No Dialog was composed and first performed at IRCAM - Paris and was sponsored by the "Mécénat Société Générale".
Feb 27, 2011
This piece refers to the question of improvisation and pays tribute to personalities in the field of jazz music whose influence is very important for me. Here, a simple phrase of four notes, the opening of "Sun Ship", one of the most dynamic record of John Coltrane, is the basis for material of the part, both in terms of melodic rhythm.
By successive construction and deconstruction that cell irrigates the "Chorus" at multiple levels. I could not help but think of the musical material of the "allegro misterioso" of Berg's Lyric Suite, also from deploying four notes, the analogy with Coltrane saxophone, seemingly utopian existing indeed, beyond the notion of gender.
The relationship to improvisation appears here by a constant internal energy, as if the starting point of any musical act could not avoid a first impulse, a kind bounce required for any live music...
Feb 26, 2011
Hoarse blasts, fugitives, short melodies, broken gestures continually renewed, a creaking door, a very low drum, incantations, a distant fire burning, soft sounds feedback, these are the elements of "Shards of heaven." Fragments of a heavenly country, as conceived by the ancient Mexicans Aztecs, is divided into thirteen heavens one above another, thirteen allegorical worlds in the heart of the elements, colors and polymorphous gods.
According to "La Historia de los Mexicanos por pinturas extra" quoted by Jacques Soustelle, each of the heavens was a world apart in which the deeper meaning remains enigmatic. Thus, the first heaven the stars are associated with the second, the tzitzimime (skeletal-looking monsters that broke the world) in the third, the four hundred guardians of heaven (...), the seventh being the country dust (...), the thirteenth dedicated to divine couple : TONACACIUATL & Tonacatecutli. Through a distorting lens, I delivered a set of associations of each of the heavens in a "state musical" bottom-up and short phrases from the fire-flame-gesture, sounds of blasts in Figure wind, multiphonics to divine worlds, long songs down to the birds that descend on earth...
Beyond identifying these representations, the musical concerns, including the formal aspect, led me to the disruption to this chronology preserving the deeply poetic aspect of these different worlds. The allegory becomes musical, abstract, with ambiguity of poetic facing the unspeakable, the electro-dose bringing its disruption by the presence of sound symbols, such as opening the door on ever a new heaven... It is the emblematic figure Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent, which is devoted the central part of the work, entitled "Agony of the Serpent of Fire" ; its death is a symbolic transformation of the discourse, more refined, is deployed in space-time increasingly stretched. So the work is moving slowly to the incantatory resonance of the ancestral drum of sacrifice...
Feb 25, 2011
In a certain way "Vola" finds its inspiration in the myth of Icarus.
Excluding narrative aspect, the piece incorporates some specific elements from the myth, which become a starting point of the project.On of the idea comes from the "transformation" of Icarus to a bird, his flight, his contemplation, and his fall… Beyond these poetic images, perhaps the concepts of transformation and the gestural aspect were one of the leading force in the composition process.
Metaphorically, the piece begins with a flutter of wings and, to achieve this "sound", I have used some special techniques of writing, where the musician plays on different parts of the double bass body, producing various noises, similar to the sounds produced by a flying bird. Following this logic of transformation of the sound material, the instrument opens gradually. From those noises, appear progressively some few notes, then some rhythmical ppatterns, harmonies, thus giving birth to a new material, as if the music is constructed gradually by itself.
Furthermore, this idea of transformation is also expressed in the electronic part, which can be considered as an extension of the instrument. Appart from pure electronic sounds, most of the material in the piece is coming from some recordings of the double bass which have been transformed in the studio ; therefore, the musician plays a kind of duo with himself ; the electronic part acts like a kind of mirror : sometimes very close from instrumental texture, sometimes completely distorted, and finally creating some constant movements between stage and loudspeakers.