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.
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,
This Cycle celebrates sound (a major discovery
of the twentieth century) and concrete music. It is a fiftieth-anniversary
homage to the inventiveness of Pierre Schaeffer, who clearly created
an upheaval in the world of music that has had no precedent. Drawing
on the same sound material which was forged from the first movement
of Schaeffers Étude aux
objets, as well as from a personal collection of sounds that have been
stored away over the years, these four pieces go through a process where
they develop out of each other, question each other, echo each other,
and complete each other through allusions, commentaries, metonymies,
and continuations. With poetic freedom they both evoke a historic journey
and propose a connection between the object of sage Schaefferian observation
and the wildest metamorphologies
of sound art. Years after its composition, Novars, the third part of
this cycle but the first to be composed, remains the section around which
the entire work turns.
Cycle du son (Cycle of Sound) premiered on November
22nd, 1998 as part of the 5th Lespace du son Festival
acousmatique international in Brussels (Belgium).
In memoriam Pierre Schaeffer
Both a lamento and a funeral march, this paraphrase
of Pierre Schaeffers
Étude aux objets is not without connection to ornate, figured
choral style. Three voices (in the contrapuntal sense of the term), developed
from elements drawn from the first movement of the Étude, embroider
and animate the long values of the original subjects that make up the
choral, which constitutes the fourth voice of this polyphonic
composition. The choice of a classical form, so important in Bach, was
a conscious one that was designed to honor the memory of Schaeffer. I
like to think that he would have enjoyed the allusion.
[English translation: Tom Carter]
Objets retrouvés (Refound Objects) was realized in 1996 in the
composers studio with sound material obtained from the Syter system
of Ina-GRM, and it premiered on May 31st, 1996 at the Hommage-Tombeau
concert as part of Synthèse, the Festival international de musique
électroacoustique de Bourges (France, 1996).
in six connected parts: Fondation; Avatars; Voix;
Aventures; Paysages; À
To the inventors of the treasure (Bayle, Berio, Chion, Dufour, Ferrari,
Henry, Malec, Parmegiani, Reibel, Risset, Schaeffer, Stockhausen, Teruggi, Varèse,
Xenakis, Zanesi, and others too numerous to name)
This presents an original aspect of the new music (as Schaeffer
called it in 1950) one that, thanks to the concept of the sound object,
brought about its accession to a multidimensional musical world. But
it is above all a metaphor for, and a short cut across, some of the stages
of the sound odysseyheard for itself and for its unveiled images
(Bayle)and its performance. It also recalls the fertile guiding
drift that allows the attentive ear to discover the furtive traces of
[English translation: Tom Carter]
AvatArsSon was realized in 1998 in the Syter
studio of Ina-GRM and in the composers studio, and it premiered on May 11th, 1998 as part
of Ina-GRMs Cycle acousmatique at the Grand Auditorium
of Radio-France in Paris. AvatArsSon was a special commission of the
Ministre de la Culture (France) and of Ina-GRM for the fiftieth anniversary
of music concrète. AvatArsSon was awarded the first prize at the
2° Concorso Internazionale di Composizione Musicale Elettronica Pierre
Schaeffer (Pescara, Italy, 1999) and, in a shorter version (14:20), the
second prize at Musica Nova (Prague, Czech Republic, 1998). AvatArsSon
was recorded in 2001 on the disc 2°/3°
Concorso Internazionale di Composizione Musicale Elettronica Pierre Schaeffer.
To music concrète and Pierre Schaeffer, its unfortunate
Novars salutes the birth of music concrète,
the ars nova of our century, through its use of the power of the computer.
Far from being a pastiche, this piece bears witness to the fact that
the latest tools have made it possible to transmit a language.
Without descending into simplistic symmetry,
it may also be possible to suggest that, even across a span of six
centuries, a relationship exists between Vitry and Schaeffer, two theoreticians
of this new
An ear attuned to classical music can recognize
the fragments of Pierre Schaeffers
Étude aux objets and Guillaume de Machauts Messe de Nostre
Dame. In effect, these roundabout borrowingsalong with a third
sound element, a kind of homage, or wry nod, in the style of Pierre Henry
and his famous doorconstitute all of the material that is needed
to give birth to a multiplicity of variations.
A sign of change is that spectromorphological mutations
(Smalley) give the sonorities of both ars nova and the new music (as
Schaeffer called it in 1950) the sound of our time.
A sign of continuity is that something from the original works (their
colors, their structure, and so on) are still present, and indestructible.
[English translation: Tom Carter]
Novars was realized in Studio 123 of Ina-GRM
(Paris, France) and in the composers studio, and it premiered
on May 29th, 1989 at the 11th Cycle acousmatique du GRM in the Grand
auditorium of Radio-France (Paris). Novars was commissioned by Ina-GRM.
The piece was selected by the International Computer Music Conference
(ICMC 90) in Glasgow
(Scotland, 1990) and the International Society for Contemporary Music
(ISCM) for the World Music Days in 1991 in Zurich (Switzerland). The
jury of the Stockholm Electronic Arts Award also selected it for presentation
at the awards concerts of the Stockholm Competition (Sweden, 1991). Very
special thanks go to Pierre Schaeffer, who kindly allowed me to borrow
some now-historic sound material; I am also grateful to Bénédict
Mailliard, Yann Geslin, and Daniel Teruggi for their patience; without
them it would have been impossible to carry out the work in Studio 123
and the Syter studio of Ina-GRM (Paris, France). Novars was included
on the Mouvances-Métaphores
2-disc set (empreintes DIGITALes, IMED 9107/08) in 1991, and rereleased
on Les dérives du signe (empreintes DIGITALes, IMED
9608) in 1996.
To Inés Wickmann and her found objects
Phonurgiemaking, working, and creating soundpresents,
fifty years after the first gropings, and at the verge of the century
under examination, one of the current states of this new art, which has
become an independent art of sounds.
Unlike the other pieces in the Cycle, Phonurgie
quotes no more than a passing subject of Schaefferian study, bringing
the sound of this legacy to a close; on the other hand, the first part,
draws all of its material and its structure from it. Paraphrased elements
from Novars can, of course, be foundelements that themselves paraphrase
Étude aux objets, making them commentaries on commentarieswhile
the opening and conclusion make reference to AvatArsSon. Nevertheless,
in this fourth homage, the allusions to the origins melt away before
the original propositions; filiation is not renounced, but here the child,
finally grown, reveals its identity.
While technology may have changed considerably
and the sound color
may no longer be the same, morphological thought and writing still remain,
in all of their many forms, true to the spirit of the first
concerts de bruit (Noise concerts).
[English translation: Tom Carter]
Phonurgie was realized in 1998 in the Syter
studio of Ina-GRM (Paris, France) and in the composers studio,
and it premiered on September 25th, 1998 as part of the Inventionen 98
festival (Berlin, Germany). The piece was commissioned by Deutscher
Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). Phonurgie won First Prize at CIMESP
1999 (São Paulo, Brazil)
and First Prize at CibertArt 1999 (Valencia, Spain). In 1998 Phonurgie
was included on the Inventionen 98 disc (RZ 10009/10)
and in 1999 on the III CIMESP 1999 disc (CD 199008708)