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[Rediscovered Treasures]

A column by Eldad Tsabary about works from the past that he has recently revisited: an appreciation of both the “classics” and lesser-known works.

Henri Chopin — Pêche de Nuit (1957)

Pêche de Nuit (1957), Tête á Tête (1971–73) (with Sten Hanson), L'Agrippe des Droits (1980) (for Christian Clozier)

The link is three pieces connected: Pêche de Nuit (1957), Tête á Tête (1971–73) (with Sten Hanson), L'Agrippe des Droits (1980) (for Christian Clozier) — all quite interesting but the first one is particularly interesting for its innovation and historic value, being made in 1957 on a second-hand, worn-out tape recorder. Chopin is a pioneer in exploring the use of voice in electronic art/music, particularly voice and body sounds, vocal grains, hisses, clicks, labial snaps, vibrations of the larynx, etc.

In Pêche de Nuit Chopin used the voice as a sound source for concrete manipulations disregarding semantics. His works were often regarded as musique concrète rather than sound art, sound poetry, or text-sound despite their primary use of voice as the only sound source. Chopin described his work as poésie sonore.

Chopin creates a huge palette of sounds, textures, spectral, textural, and rhythmical contrasts with just voice, overdubbing and speed changes.

Although others have explored the use of language in electronic composition, including Pierre Henry (Vocalises, 1952), Stockhausen (Gesang der Jünglinge, 1955–56), Takemitsu (Vocalism AI, 1956), and later Ligeti (Artikulation, 1958), Eimert (Epitaph für Aikichi Kuboyama, 1960-62), among others, Chopin’s explorations were done much more as an “underground” or “experimental” artist, so to speak, working playfully with low-end equipment (placing matchsticks on the erase head for overdubbing, for instance). Later in his career, however, he worked in well-equipped studios including Atelier de création (Radio France), Fylkingen in Stockholm, WDR (Cologne), in Toronto, Australia and others.

Chopin recently died (January 2008). You are encouraged to explore his works in his UbuWeb page here:

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