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Showing posts from 2007

Working with Karlheinz Stockhausen - The art of performing

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Dress rehearsal, August 2003.As an homage to Karlheinz Stockhausen, I want to share with you a text I wrote in 2003, right after working with the composer. Several noteworthy aspects of his work have not been given much importance in the comments after his passing away. One of them is the importance of performance practice in his music. That's one of the memories we musicians will keep after having performed the world première and recorded Rechter Augenbrauentanz (The Dance of the Right Eyebrow).The musiciansclarinet and solo Eb clarinet: Michele Marelliclarinets: Rumi Sota-Klemm (by the way, Rumi played basset-horn in Montag aus Licht), Antonia Lorenz, Roberta Gottardi, Maja Pawelke, Jean-François Charlesbass clarinets: Petra Stump and Heinz-Peter Linshalmsynthesizer: Antonio Pérez Abellánpercussion: Michael Pattmannconductor: Adrian HegerIn the recording studio, August 2003.Impressions (2003)Stockhausen is a master in performance practice. Admittedly, he is first and foremost a …

Nigritella nigra - Black Vanilla Music

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A composition for clarinet and string quartetNigritella nigra's first part (until 3'50'') consists in a chord which color changes through the use of microtones. This is a musical image of the flower's vanilla scent. The short central passage (until 4'15'') is a deforming mirror. After that comes a distorted retrograde of the first part. The concentration of energy in microtones in the first part is transformed in more extravert gestures in the second part. The flower Nigritella nigra has a strong character! Avignon - AcanthesI composed Nigritella nigra in 1998, for my first participation to the contemporary classical music center Centre Acanthes. Sofia Gubaidulina was the guest composer, while Viktor Suslin was responsible for the composition workshop. You are listening to the recording of the final concert, featuring musicians from the Orchestre Lyrique de Région Avignon-Provence, conducted by Sylvio Gualda:Didier Breuque, clarinetDelphine Avcioglu, vi…

Bleu 1 - Remix your own version

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Tonight, Saturday December 15th, I will diffuse Bleu 2 on the 30 speakers of the Hydra Loudspeaker Orchestra. The mixing consoles driving the Hydra:As I already mentioned in my post Bleu 2 - electronic music - transcription, I composed the electronic music for Bleu 2 using as source material only Bleu 1, a set of three clarinet improvisations (well, clarinet in its extended meaning: bass clarinet, basset-horn, and contrabass clarinet). No other sample, nor synthesizers of any kind, but only sound processing of the original recordings.
My additional constraint has been to make Bleu 2 the same duration as Bleu 1. Feel free to remixNow, you can listen to Bleu 1, download the files, and make your own remix. You can also listen to each of the parts while looking at Miró's corresponding painting. These 3 improvised miniatures are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.You can listen to Bleu 2, my "remix" of Bleu 1, from my…

60/60 - Join the Creation!

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60/60 is an invitation to take part in my new composition project. I will compose 60 minutes of music, partly inspired by you and by a present you offer me.Make a present - Receive a minute of musicThe process is very simple: You make me a present from my amazon wish list (see below)I produce one minute of musicThe music is dedicated to you (you may stay anonymous if you wish)I e-mail the music to you (if you leave your e-mail address)I tell the story about the gift and the composition on this blogI make the music available here, tooToday, there are 60 gifts on my list. At the end of the project, I will have composed one hour of music.Here is the list:Update June 14th, 2010
It's time for me to put this list off-line. You may still participate in the project. Feel free to make a gift of your own choice.
FAQsWhat kind of music will you produce?The music will feature various ensembles: solo instruments, electronic music, chamber music, film music, MIDI instruments, improvisation, live …

Agate Lithophone Remix

I received a nice surprise last week. Georges, a multimedia artist from Savoie, France, reacted to my post Lithophone - Agate Music, and e-mailed me a remix of my example. Listen to his Agate composition.Also, make sure you visit Georges' blog audiosource (in French), and maybe you will subscribe to his RSS feed. He declares his blog is about sounds, all sounds, the means of making them, recording them, composing with them, transporting them, making music or not with them.Some posts with sounds and stories I like (you need to find the link to listen to the music):PondicherymixGrive musicienneL'aluphoniste and L'aluphone portiqueVariation pour sonnette

Plex - Basset-horn and Live Electronics

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In fall 2002, still at Strasbourg Conservatory, I registered at the École nationale de musique du pays de Montbéliard (Montbéliard national music school). Ensemble New Flore had just invested in a new Apple Laptop (a Powerbook G4, 800 MHz, 756 Mo, at the time), and I wanted to learn interactive music with Max/MSP. I chose Montbéliard because of the composition faculty, Hans Tutschku and Jacopo Baboni Schilingi. Each other week, we met there during 2 intense days, with many great students. We were a creative and motivated community of young artists, including, for instance, Lorenzo "Lorbi" Bianchi and Daniele Segre Amar (now members of esc-crew). Nice music school in Montbéliard, isn't it?My first composition with live electronicsPlex is a composition for solo instrument and live electronics. The live electronics may be played either by the soloist, or by a second performer. I performed the premiere on clarinet and live electronics in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, on Ju…

Film Music 101 - Robert Kraft - Pharmacy Music

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Listen while reading!This fall, I have been proposed to produce the music for a very special movie: a commercial to be played in the waiting room of a pharmacy. I thought "Why not?" I would surely learn new things and improve my Logic Studio skills.Coincidence, on October 26th, when I was drafting the music, Robert Kraft was invited at Harvard. Robert Kraft is the President of Fox Music Inc.He gave me interesting comments on Dérives. But he was even more helpful on my pharmaceutical work in progress:Be more repetitive. The audience likes repetition. Don't waste all your ideas in a short amount of time. And the audience expects the theme to come back.
Indeed, my first version was an accumulation of musical loops, very varied, because I was afraid of being too repetitive!It's good to use a clear structure. For instance, a 4 or 8-bar looping structure.
As you can hear, the new version is very much 4-bar oriented. I synchronized the music with the picture through slight t…

Morphologic free improv in Boston

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Morphology is Ruth Lepson and Walter Crump's new book. It features "Dream poems" and pictures by poet Ruth Lepson, as well as pictures by photographer Walter Crump.On October 13th, a great evening celebrating the publication of the book took place at Studio Soto, Boston. In the form of a slide talk, Ruth Lepson read poetry and projected images, and Walter Crump, presented new work and work from the book. With Joe Moffett (trumpet), Eric Lane (keyboard and electronics), and Noah Preminger (tenor sax), we played improvised music, interacting with Ruth reading her poetry. Ruth is poet-in-residence at New England ConservatoryRuth Lepson and me had lunch together two weeks ago: I would like to feature some poems of hers in a new composition. It would be a new piece for flute, electronics, and poetry reading, that I envision for Mario Caroli's coming in Cambridge in May 2008 (see also my previous post about recording Mario Caroli). I will set several poems, in verse (I rea…

Lithophone - Agate Music

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SawingBrazingDrillingLaughingAnd the result is... a new lithophone (after the big one built for Magma).The sounding stones are made of agate. The "mallets" (picture below) come in two types: hard (hematite chunks) and soft (orange calcite). I acquired all the stones last summer at the Harvard Natural History Museum, a few hours before my plane flew from Boston to France. We built the instrument between August 20th and 22nd, 2007.Many thanks to:my father for his invaluable helpmy mother for the assistance beyond the making of the lithophoneSuzanne and Freddy for their incredible reactivity

Tilia - Boston Microtonal Society Concert

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Sunday, November 18, 5:30 p.m.
St. Paul's Cathedral, Tremont Street, BostonI am honored and excited that the Boston Microtonal Society included my piece Tilia for flute, violin, and cello, in the Fall concert of Notariotous (featuring Jessi Rosinski (flute), Gabriela Diaz (violin), David Russell (cello), and James Bergin (director)).Music in the form of a treeLike the tree, Tilia has roots, a trunk, and inflorescences twirling in the wind. I composed the piece in 2000 after a musical formula, designed as the musical image of a tree (click to enlarge):Here are the program notes:Tilia spreads as the tree develops. The roots, meeting resistance, penetrate the earth little by little. The trunk widens in the rhythm of the seasons; Spring, summer, autumn and winter bring an additional ring to it. The wind blows in the foliage and makes the inflorescences whirl.Listen to a live recording featuring Jessi Rosinski (flute), Gabriela Diaz (violin), Alexei Yupanqui Gonzales (cello), and Eric H…

Treffpunkt - Karlheinz Stockhausen - Intuitive Music

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Around the Zodiac was the first show of the Ensemble New Flore. The all-Stockhausen program was:Treffpunkt (double bass and clarinet)In Freundschaft (solo clarinet)Tierkreis, in a version with Paul Dirmeikis's poem Sirius on this music. The poem is part of SHU, poems on music by Karlheinz Stockhausen.The premiere took place on January 21st, 2001, in "Le Tambourin", the concert hall of ARES, a Music School in Strasbourg, with Franck Cottet-Dumoulin (double bass), myself (Bb clarinet), and Jean-Luc Tartera (actor). Later in 2001 and 2002, we performed the show with the actor Maurice Gabioud in Gaillard, Villeurbanne, and Geneva.Intuitive MusicThe music you are listening to (well, if you hit play on the widget at the top of this page...) is intuitive music. While recording this track, we were inspired by Karlheinz Stockhausen's Treffpunkt, part of the cycle Aus den sieben Tagen. With Franck, we played this piece without any pre-conceived idea of a form. I remember we a…

Mario Caroli Drum Kit

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Yesterday, I had the opportunity to record Mario Caroli, the great flutist. My project has been to create a library of samples for a "Mario Caroli" drum kit, for the Ultrabeat rhythm synthesizer & step sequencer (or actually for any drum machine). During a 20-minute recording session, Mario listened to sounds from a "classic hip-hop remix drum kit", and imitated them with his flute and his talent. I recorded the session in ProTools, the main system in Huseac studios.
I still have to edit the samples. I will make the whole final set available on the internet, Mario agreed with that. I will let you know as soon as everything is ready!A few Mario Caroli recordings available in the USA:Amazon.com WidgetsMario Caroli is the Fromm guest of the Harvard Group for New Music in 2007/2008. He will come back for a concert on May 24th, 2008.

Derives - Film music

During my studies at Strasbourg Conservatory, there was an important interaction between the Conservatory and Festival Musica (and I am sure it is still the case.) I performed in the festival in 2000, 2001 and 2002, to play the music of Pascal Dusapin, Thierry De Mey (a Maximalist! program,) and Javier Torres Maldonado.
In Fall 2003, Ivan Fedele proposed me to take part to an exciting project: a collaboration with film makers around the topic "the building of the new Conservatory." The Cité de la Musique was in construction, and Marie-Claude Ségard, director of the Conservatory, had the idea of this collaborative art work. The result has been "En Chantier", a collection of 16 short films produced by the Festival Musica, the Conservatoire National de Région de Strasbourg, and the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg.ProductionI worked on the short film Dérives, directed and realized by Sophie de Quatrebarbes, Élise Launay and Adeline Meilliez. Early in…

From Bleu 2 to Bleu 3

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On August 31st, I finished the score of Bleu 3, a composition for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.Today, I wrote program notes:I composed Bleu 3 during the summer 2007. The piece has been inspired by the triptych "Les trois bleu" by Juan Miró. For this project, I adopted an iterative composition process involving several interests of mine.
First, I recorded Bleu 1, a series of three miniatures improvised on bass clarinet, basset-horn, and contrabass clarinet, using each of the three paintings as instantaneous inspiration.
The next step has been an electronic music piece called Bleu 2. All the sounds in this piece result from transformations of the Bleu 1 sound file through personal spectral processing tools.
Finally, Bleu 3 is a transcription of Bleu 2 into a quartet for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. The eight sections of the piece are called Cristal, Fouillis, Louange, Ange, Abîme, Danse, Arcs-en-ciel, and Fureur.
Bleu 3 is an homage to Olivier Messiaen and is dedicate…

Magma - volcanic music

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Magma is a composition for contrabass clarinet, stones, and live electronics.
I received the commission in 2003 from Ensemble Accroche Note (France) and the Dresden Centre of Contemporary Music (DZzM, Germany) for the exciting project ExperimentMusikTheater. This concert featured new music ensembles from several European countries.The whole event took place in October 2003, during the 17th "Dresdner Tage der zeitgenössischen Musik", in the freshly rebuilt Hellerau. We spent a week of rehearsals with Armand Angster (clarinets), Françoise Kubler (voice, percussion), Jean-Daniel Hégé (double bass, stones), the dancer Michel Kelemenis, and the two other composers who wrote for the group, Philippe Legoff and Gérard Condé. The "bed and breakfast" was a place for creative discussions, while we ate an excellent rösti in the simple Swiss restaurant close to the concert hall.The score of Magma gathers six classes of sounds:
Explosion - Ébullition - Expansion - Érosion - Effusi…

Dudley Third Stream - Call to Composers

As from September, I will be leading the Dudley Big Band, as well as another group, the Dudley Third Stream.This latter group will feature:String quartet (2 violins, viola, cello)Upright bassAnd possibly:Electric guitar with multi-effectsWinds to be determined, members of the Big Band or not: fluteclarinet (if it's me, possibly doubling bass, contrabass, etc.)sax(s) (anybody playing the soprano out there?)flugelhornhornbassoonPercussion (possibly multi-percussion, "ethnic" instruments, and why not jazz drums)Possibility of live electronicsIf you want to compose or experiment a piece at the border between notation and improvisation, classical and jazz, serious and fun, it is the place to come!
Examples of projects: written piece for the strings, a solo wind improvisercollective improvisation with directionsarrangement of an existing piece of music (plain chant, classical, pop music or other...)piece featuring a special guest or yourself (turntables, didgeridoo, musical saw…

Bleu 2, electronic music, transcription

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Back to work after a week off in New Hampshire!I find on my desk a very special transcription task... Indeed, for a new quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, I devised a three-part composition process involving several interests of mine.Bleu 1: improvisation and clarinets. I recorded three miniatures on bass clarinet, basset-horn, and contrabass clarinet, improvised on each of the paintings "Les trois bleu" by Juan Miró. The recording took place in the Huseac studios on June 3rd and 4th.Bleu 2: Max/MSP/Jitter spectral sound processing and Apple Logic Pro editing. June 6th to July 6th, I used the recorded solos (Bleu 1) as a basic material, to process it with custom software programmed within Max/MSP/Jitter. I called the result Bleu 2, and you can listen to it on www.myspace.com/jfcharles.Bleu 3: transcription, imagination, composition. I use Bleu 2 as an outline for the piece for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. I go back to work!

Rêver - dancing musician and singing dancer

In 2004, I had a great time touring with the Ensemble New Flore our show "Spirales", in Strasbourg, Bouxwiller and Geneva. With the dancer and choreograph Alice Gervais-Ragu, we performed my composition "Rêver" for dancing clarinetist and singing dancer.

Working on that piece has been a terrific experience. I look forward to working again with Alice on a new project of hers: a show featuring four artists who have all an appetite for both movement and sound. I say appetite, for the show will be centered around the topic "cook."

Jean-François.