Preface by François Bayle
The Desire to Listen
“I propose to everyone the opening of interior hatches, a journey into the depths of things, an invasion of qualities, a revolution or subversion comparable to that of the plow or the shovel, when all of a sudden, for the first time, millions of parcels are uncovered, glitter, roots, worms and little beasts that had previously been buried. Oh infinite resources of the thickness of things.” Francis Ponge
It is the effect of sound considered as an activity, an “excited thing”, whose thickness, interior or reverse side “suddenly brought to light” brings out “parcels and glitter”, yes, it is from this event, and the surprise it provokes in me as soon as it appears, that the urgent desire to listen comes, as strong as the promise of an important moment.
The organ concerned by this call is not only that of listening, but immediately associated with it is that of prehension/ predation: the ear is equipped with a hand. To hold-retain-reproduce under various exhibitions, pressures and expressions.
For what is this “excited thing” that interests me, that mobilizes me in turn?
These questions, among many others that assail me, arise from the strangeness of the acousmatic “system” itself: listening without seeing!
Radio, cinema and the technological arts share this strange appeal: that of provoking, of invading the perceptive flow. And beyond codes and words, to address the “ordinary” viewer or listener directly, to take into account the immediacy of his or her sensations arising in the urgency of an immersion, to integrate and incorporate him or her in a situation of strangeness, a world of images without frame or reference point: an “extra ordinary” situation!
Every composer is familiar with this delicious immersion in “total sound”, the ultimate historical step that overcomes the previous one, that of the chromatic ensemble of the symphonic universe.
In an acousmatic situation, musical invention penetrates (by breaking and entering?) into the interior of things, as Francis Ponge invokes, and enjoys playing with the evocative power of sounds. It maintains a privileged relationship with reality. It inaugurates a new situation: that of autonomous listening. In the absence of a visual referent, it produces unexpected images in the listener made of sensations, materials, textures and colors.
From then on, all sound can be understood as a sign.
The magic of listening - if we want to use a word to capture it alive - comes in large part from the empathy it sets in
Before hearing, we believe we are (still) ourselves, but if we let ourselves be caught up in the thread of attention, we imme- diately “become” the author of what we hear, the layout agent, the central character, and all together, the subject and the object, the traveler and the landscape, the lover and his beloved, the adventurer and his adventure.
But special conditions are needed to achieve this phenomenological magic: the characters (to truly live) require from the author the guarantee of a fertile, fanciful and, why not say, delirious imagination of their future...
... and for each of the ten composers on this beautiful album, this is indeed the case!
To those who will hear the musical works gathered here, so diversely colored and all highly inventive, I promise
François Bayle, April 2023
Former director of the Ina Grm Honorary doctorate from the University of Cologne Honorary President of Musiques et Recherches