Dhomont studied under Ginette Waldmeier, Charles Koechlin and Nadia Boulanger.
In the late 40s, in Paris (France), he intuitively discovered with
magnetic wire what Schaeffer would later call musique concrète
and consequently conducted solitary experiments with the musical possibilities
of sound recording. Later, leaving behind instrumental writing, he dedicated
himself exclusively to electroacoustic composition.
An ardent proponent of acousmatics, his work (since 1963) is comprised
exclusively of works for tape bearing witness to his continued interest
in morphological interplay and ambiguities between sound and the images
it may create.
The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec has recently awarded
him a prestigious carreer grant. In 1999, he was awarded five first prizes
for four of his recent works at international competition (Brazil, Spain,
Italy, Hungary and Czech Republic). In 1997, as the winner of the Canada
Council for the Arts Lynch-Staunton Prize, he was also supported
by the DAAD for a residence in Berlin (Germany). Five-time winner at
the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France)
the Magisterium Prize in 1988 and 2nd Prize at Prix Ars Electronica
1992 (Linz, Austria), he has received numerous other awards.
He is the editor of special issues published
by Musiques & Recherches
(Belgium) and of Électroacoustique Québec: lessor
(Québec Electroacoustics: The Expansion) for Circuit (Montréal).
Musical coeditor of the Dictionnaire des arts médiatiques (published
by UQAM), he is also lecturer and has produced many radio programs for
Radio-Canada and Radio- France.
Since 1978, he has divided his time between
France and Québec,
where he has taught at the Université de Montréal from
1980 to 1996. He is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre
(CMC, 1989) and a Founding Member (1986) and Honorary Member (1989) of
the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC). Great traveller, he participates
in sevral juries.
He now focuses on composition and theory.
The Acousmattitude of Francis Dhomont
What is immediately attractive about Francis
Dhomont, fortunately, apart from appearances, is that he posses nothing
of the Cloven Viscount, the Italo Calvino hero whose two halves, misfortune
and kindness, scatter along the way loss mixed with consolation. If
that story has a happy endingwhere, after a duel, both halves of the mini viscounts re-emerge
as one reharmonized entityand if this fable comes to mind at this
moment it is because of a profound tendency towards this dichotomy characteristic
of todays composers, to which some do not escape, either by perverted
slandering and vituperating contemporary art while being in it themselvesor
by naive proselytismdiscrediting their work by making an irremediable
gap between the ambition of their discourse and the aesthetical result.
In the case of Francis Dhomont, the process is out of the ordinary.
We have with him the interesting double union of a composer whose work
is constant with consistent quality, varied but with unity of style,
colored but with great coherence. And, as a bonus, he is a teacher who
produces numerous quality good students, devoted to listening to others
and thinking about their discourse, a constant mover and continuous analyst
of the theories of an art which remains experimental, who encourages
an art allowing as much musical as human exploration, both abundant qualities
of this composer.
Because each half may exist without the otherone nourishing the
otherwe can explain this remarkably balanced case of acousmattitude
François Bayle, Paris, June, 23rd,
The title Jalons (Milestones) was taken from surveying because this disc
surveys a musical landscape that extends over a space of fifteen years. While
the very different eras and interests to which these eight works (from the years
1985, 90, 92, 95, 98, 99, 2000 and 2001) bear witness
are not comprehensive enough to constitute a retrospective, this disc is nevertheless
a mini-panorama that completes other, more thematic, recorded releases; it also
presents a few pieces that can be heard in concert only occasionally.
to Annette Vande Gorne
Provence. A summer evening, the window open wide on the slowly darkening
sky. Through this deep, blemishless blue, the flight of swallows: a strident,
constantly changing feeding dance. The delicious night continues to fall.
There are the sounds of the village preparing for the night festival;
the echoes reach me. A jet begins its descent into Marignanne. How simple
it all is!
It is a moment of pure, contemplative happiness,
barely disturbed by a few familiar cares, which are quickly chased
away. I think of Verlaines
The sky above the roof, so blue, so calm
This is music of memory: connotative, certainly,
but not representational. It evokes and continues a previous work,
(1985-86), which provided some of the material for it.
The space, too, belongs to memory.
Vol dArondes (Flight of Swallows) was realized in the Métamorphoses
dOrphée multichannel studio (Ohain, Belgium) and was premiered
on 21 November 1999 in the hall of the XL-Théâtre du Grand
Midi (Brussels, Belgium) during the 6th International Acoumatic Festival.
It was commissioned by Musiques & Recherches. The revised eight-
track version (2001) was premiered on 15 December 2001 at Espace Go in
Montreal (Quebec) as part of the Rien à voir (10) concert
series. The version heard here is a stereophonic remasteringrealized
by the composer in June 2002of the original eight- track composition.
to Arturo Parra
Commissioned by the Colombian guitarist Arturo
Parra, En cuerdas (In the Strings) is the version for solo tape of
Sol y sombra
des spectres, a work for guitar and tape that was co-written with Parra.
The composition heard here is completely independent from that work.
Its sonic environment nevertheless remains one
of strings that are plucked, rubbed and struck; but these are strings
have been made virtual, transformed by computer processes and multiplied
by electroacoustic writing. These are morphological variations that
have been obtained primarily through the use of a variety of instruments of
the SYTER system at Ina-GRM (Paris, France).
Within this formal framework and the preliminary
choices made with the software, I left myself, as always, a great deal
of room for improvised séquences-jeux.
Certainly, these moments of pure intuition do
not involve the sense of vertigo and the irreparable risks that are
found in real improvisation, for the choices are made afterward, allowing
only those magic moments to
remain. Half-way between chance and will, this is perhaps an attempt
to reconcile Pascals spirit of fineness and spirit of geometry.
En cuerdas was realized in the composers studio in 1998 and was
premiered on 15 May 1998 at the Festival international de musique actuelle
de Victoriaville (Québec). It was commissioned by Arturo Parra
with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts. I would like
to thank Arturo Parra, whose many textures and sounds make up the materials
of this piece, as well as Ina-GRM, which was kind enough to open wide
the doors of the SYTER studio to me. En cuerdas won First Prize at the
Hungarian Radios EAR 99 International Competition of Electroacoustic
Music (Budapest, Hungary) and was also a prizewinner at the competition
Città di Udine (Italy, 1998). En cuerdas was recorded on the 1998
98 Vol 1 (Taukay 107) and on the 2000 disc Sonic Circuits VIII
to the composers and founders of Réseaux: Jean-François
Denis, Gilles Gobeil, and Robert Normandeau
In the same way that the eye perceives the changing play of light on
various shapes and textures of a given colour, the ear picks out the
sparkles and shimmers that the minute variations of related sounds can
Uneven flattening of the grain, dull and bright areas, changing,
gleaming and wavy aspects. Reflections. These terms, borrowed from
visual perception, find their equivalents in sound: instead of changes
in space, changes in time. This is further pointed at by an anecdotal
element, a sign of the passage of time, that punctuates the sound stream
in three places: the beginning, the middle, and the end.
This scintillation was produced by processing
much of the material with the SYTER real- time system at Ina-GRM in
Paris. Certain characteristics, techniques and types of sound, chosen
from the outset of the project because of their latent potentiality,
were selected: these were harmonic timbre, accumulation, percussion/resonance,
movement (trajectories, whirls), and dynamic contrastthe very
things that give sound context and make it shimmer.
Les moirures du temps (The Shimmering Ripples
of Time) was realized in the Syter studio at Ina-GRM (Paris, France)
and in the composers
studio in 1999 and was premiered (under the working title Cosa mentale)
on 29 February 1999 as part of the Rien à voir (5) concert
series produced by Réseaux. Les moirures du temps was commissioned
by Réseaux with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts.
It won First Prize at the Musica Nova (Prague, Czech Republic, 1999).
Here we surprise the acousmotrope (by analogy with the heliotrope, that
which turns toward hearing), engaged in his rituals and his creations,
in a half-real, half-dreamed moment of nocturnal composition for Figures
de la nuit, a work for radio commissioned by David Olds for the program
ransfigured Night, on CKLN-FM in Toronto.
Along with the voice of the artist, we hear
(in order of vocal appearance) those of Laurie Radford, Pierre Daboval,
Justice Olsson, Marie Pelletier, Jean-François Denis, and Pierre
Studio de nuit (Studio at Night) was realized
in the composers
studio in 1992 and was premiered on 2 September 1995 as part of the Festival
international dart acousmatique Futura (Crest, France). Studio
de nuit was recorded on the 1992 disc DISContact! 6.2 (CEC 92CD).
to victims everywhere: the dispossessed, the sacrificed, the forgotten
What can be said about Sarajevo that has not
already been said? Faced with a deluge of triumphant cynicism, I was
unable to content myself with the formal, esthetic games that are so
dear to the composer. Perhaps this musical narcissism, this elegant
disengagement, and this haughty ignorance (deceitful, surely, but this
shouldnt surprise) now appear
quite derisory compared to the anguish we witness daily; ridiculous and,
finally, untenable. And so, naively, I wanted to speak about the horror
and the shame.
The title came to me, sudden and obvious: Letter, which
can tell of the magnitude of the disaster and which at that same time
can send a cry in the desert of nations; Sarajevo, because
this city, like all too many others, symbolizes the tragic incoherency
of the return to barbarity in our age.
Even though they may be common, how can one remain deaf to such provocations?
It is a pessimistic report that, six years later, recent events give
no sign of refuting.
Lettre de Sarajevo (Letter from Sarajevo) was
realized in the Syter studio at Ina-GRM (Paris, France) and in the
composers studio in
1995-96 and was premiered on 22 February 1996 as part of the Présence
96 festival of Radio-France in the Grand Auditorium of the Maison Radio-France
(Paris, France). A first version, presented in August 1995 at the Festival
dart acousmatique Futura (Crest, France) under the title Esquisse
pour Sarajevo, received the assistance of the Canada Council for the
Arts. Lettre de Sarajevo was commissioned by the État (France)
for the Festival dart acousmatique Futura (Crest, France). Lettre
de Sarajevo was recorded on the 1996 disc Sonic Circuits IV (Innova 113).
to Uli A. and Antonio V.
In composing this music for film, I had to follow rules that differ
from those of non- incidental music: there were thematic directions that
had to be respected, constraints that were imposed by the material (Vivaldi,
the viola, a dog, the sound of a stream, and naturalism) and by the timing,
allusions and references that had to be incorporated, and so on.
Un autre Printemps does, of course, echo Vivaldis
famous concerto, which forms the thread that runs through the film.
But the thread wanders, changes, and is recycled, with the result that
the baroque work becomes a simple yet rich sound source, and one full
of cultural connotations. The important place accorded the movement
of water and its mutations corresponds to the metaphor of the effusiveness
of spring that is so present on the screen. But here the sound of nature
questions the nature of sound: the representational and referential
elements of the opening slide closer and closer toward abstraction,
with the aid of the treatments that distort the source material, and
the music regains its integrity. By the end, the sound will have rejoined
This approach to finding the beauty in sound as a means of organizing
and structuring it reminds me of when I carved wood to earn my living,
drawing my inspiration from form inherent in it. I tried in both cases
to reconcile will and chance, conception and perception, and nature and
Un autre Printemps (Another Spring) was commissioned
by the German filmmaker Uli Aumüller for his film Mein Kino für die Ohren
(My Cinema for the Ears), a co-production by ARTE and ZDF, and realized
in the composers studio in 2000. Un autre Printemps was premiered
during the European telecast of the film on 14 March 2001 and on 15 December
2001 as part of the Rien à voir (10) concert series in Montreal
(Quebec). Thanks to Jean René, viola, for some strong materiologies.
The work won 2nd prize at Hungarian Radios EAR 01 International
Competition of Electroacoustic Music (Budapest, Hungary). Mein
Kino für die Ohren was recorded in March 2002 on DVD-Video
by Bridge Records (Bridge 9117).
to Françoise Barrière, Christian
Clozier, Jean-Claude Leduc, and Valia and Patrick Lemoine
Fifteen years after I composed this purely electronic
only one I ever produced I exhume it, as a curiosity. Invited to
compose a work by the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges
(GMEB), I decided that as a guiding principle I would limit myself to
the use of material generated by oscillators and other modules of the
high- quality analogue synthesizer from the Charybde studio and to very
few processing. I then added a number of elements produced at the Groupe
de musique expérimentale de Marseille (GMEM) with the first version
of the Synclavier.
But a more poetic image was guiding me, that
of the forest as a magical symbol of our unconscious. This was my first
foray into the deep
that I had already been thinking about; in it a few reminders of that
first effort can still be found.
Here is what I felt about it: Today [artists] reveal the relativity
of visible things; they express their belief that the visible is only
an isolated aspect in relation to the universe as a whole, and that other,
invisible truths are the overriding factors. Paul Klee, Berlin,
Here are traces of luxuriance and dream-like
exoticism, a bestiary of the imagination that does not hide its kinship
with François Bayles
Trois rêves doiseaux, Roger Cochinis Lullaby, and Ivo
Malecs Bizarra. It is the fantasy-universe of the comic strip,
or the fantastic one of fairy tales (in which no menace is excluded):
the fantasmatic landscape of signs.
Drôles doiseaux (Strange Birds) was realized in the GMEB
studios and in the composers studio in 1985-86 and was premiered
on 2 June 1985 as part of Synthèse, the Festival international
de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (France). It was commissioned
by lÉtat (France) and the Groupe de musique expérimentale
de Bourges (GMEB). The version heard here was reworked and abridged in
the composers studio in 2001.
to Marie Pelletier
This piece is a little vocal game, resolutely
optimistic, about the ineffable beauty of electroacoustic music, that
marvelous art that will surely make the next millennium the Brave New
World that we have been waiting for. It is also a brief stylistic exercise
that mixes fragments of ancient voices with the voice of Marie Pelletier
in order to recapture the spirit of Puzzle, a two-minute and ten-second
clip realized in 1975. Twenty-eight years agohow time flies!
It is a game on the multiple manipulations and
recitations of the word electroacoustic,
as well as on the exultant conclusion: Electro, youre the
Lélectro (Electro) was realized in 1990
in the composers
studio and was premiered on 30 August 1995 as part of the Festival international
dart acousmatique Futura (Crest, France). Lélectro
was recorded on the 1995 disc DISContact! II (CEC 95CD).
[English translation: Tom Carter]