Polyphonie - polychrome
(PARIS, FRANCE, 1953)
Patrick Ascione began composing in 1976 and shortly after joined the team of
the Groupe de musique experimentale de Bourges (GMEB, France) which he
subsequently left in 1984. He has pursued his activities independently
and has produced a series of pieces, the majority of which have been
commissions from the Groupe de recherches musicales of the Institut national
de l’audiovisuel (INA•GRM) in Paris (France).
Two distinct esthetic periods characterize his course of work: during the first, from 1977 to 1987, the composer placed an emphasis on the ties unifying acousmatic art and painting; ties arising from the use of a common permanent working surface which permits the painter to directly place his colors on the canvas just as the composer immediately captures sonorities on magnetic tape... He expressed this analogy and attempted to explore its ramifications in virtually all the works of this period (Metamorphose d’un jaune citron, 1978, Bleus et formes, 1981...).
In the second period, from 1987 to the present, following upon this initial preoccupation, he presented the idea of a ‘spatial polyphony’ (‘polyphony’ of spaces and not uniquely of sounds); he inaugurated this path in 1989 with Espaces-paradoxes composed for 16 tracks. The concert works thus developed have as their objective the mastering and integration of the spatial dimension of the piece from the very beginning of its elaboration in studio via adequate multi-track techniques. A number of his pieces have been awarded prizes and mentions at various international competitions: Fontanes (La Defense/sacem, France, 1978); Metamorphose d’un jaune citron (Bourges, France, 1979); Lune noire (Noroit-Léonce Petitot, France, 1989); Espaces-paradoxes (Arc Electronica, Austria, 1994). He was also a recipient of the ‘Leonard de Vinci Prize’ for Canada from the French Minister of Foreign Affairs (1991).
POLYPHONIE-POLYCHROME, THE DISC
It is Patrick Ascione who perhaps first formulated the idea, which he
here presents perfectly in his own terms and with a great originality
of thought, that electroacoustic music—employing magnetic tape or other supporting media—was comparable to a painting in sound. Without him, I could have never elaborated upon the notion, which is often used today, of “fixed sounds’ a notion which seems to me to characterize the essence of this genre. But these few lines are above all meant to express my esteem and admiration for the work of a composer whose world is personal and intense. The music of Patrick Ascione possesses a unique character, which comes not from any particular outside process, but directly and authentically from within. It speaks to me like a multi-voiced expression, fantastical, haunting. At least to my ears; others may find it more abstract and plastic, and others still in a completely different way. It is due to its richness that this music is at the same time both fleeting and captivating. The present disc, polyphonie-polychrome, which reveals in its vastness all of this world, and which offers a chance for auditors to acquaint themselves with one of the major composers of the new generation of electroacoustic composers, should truly be considered an event.
Michel Chion, Paris (France), November 28, 1994
Electroacoustic music immediately attracted me because
it permitted me access to a world of sensations and emotions which I
had never before discovered in any other form of expression. The meeting
of an unknown world, of a new language arising from behind the veil of
conventions, sufficiently abstract, sensitive and powerful that only
my essential creative intentions remain, without artifice, and such that
one day I would also be permitted to participate in its edification.
The present recording represents a part of my work to which are added
several other pieces composed for concert presentation as well as some ‘program’ works created in collaboration with visual artists.
If the painter’s canvas makes it possible to work on colors and their nuances, it is because it permits one quite simply to retain in the most minute details the successive wishes of the artist, the fortunate accidents, and by progressive approaches to establish concordances, contrasts and oppositions of meaning of values and of forms. All this while at the same time conserving the actual impression of it, and without having need of an intermediary codification between the intention and the object. In the sound field (without necessarily speaking of music), there has long been a lack of an equivalent approach which affords one this much freedom and flexibility: this ‘canvas of sounds’ which today is indeed magnetic tape and its most recent derivations...
I have always been struck by the existence of this interesting correspondence between acousmatic art and painting, an observation which has been distinctly decisive for my work from the beginning (Metamorphose d’un jaune citron, 1978). This correspondence was not necessarily decisive from the point of view of synesthetic relationships (which are subjective perceptions), but rather because to compose with sounds, which presupposes their fashioning one by one, to combine them, to erase them, to replace them, then to finish by laying them down on tape, seemed to me very close to the manner of organizing colors on a surface... that a common point existed which was particular to these two disciplines, an analogous basis as indispensable to one as to the other, and without which neither one nor the other could really exist and develop.
This comrnon principle of fixation is at the origin of the essential and irreducible particularities of these two distinct mirrors of human sensibility and thought, painting and acousmatic art. And if there really exists a distinctiveness, and consequently, if it offers us today this extraordinary freedom of expressivity and this new world of meaning to discover, it is precisely to this ‘immediate-memory aid’ that we owe it first and foremost; to this generative working surface, at the same time the starting point and the finishing result, because by avoiding any mediating system and all compromise, it leads the work to an original and primordial level.
This ultimate simplification, by one stroke, radically dissociate concrete work from that of traditional music. It is the singular power of an art of which we are probably stil lfar from reaching the limits...
It is, in any case, in this spirit and by these particular convictions that, thanks in part to the commissions from the INA/GRM, as well as to the renewed confidence of Francois Bayle, that I have been able to compose the present triptych, the title of which seems to me to accurately describe my work.
I would like to thank Jean Schwarz who produced the master tape of this
recording as well as Christian Zanesi for his concerned (and thus precious)
advice. I also wish to thank in particular Michel Chion regarding the
concerns of the preface, Francois Bayle and the INA•GRM for having encouraged this project by their support, and Francis Dhomont (to whom l owe more than he will ever know!).
Menetou-Salon (France), June, 1994
The acousmatic triptych composed for concert presentation, Polyphonie-polychrome, was produced between 1984 and 1989. The concert order of these three pieces was modified for this recording; Sur champ d’azur (In a Field of Azure) et Valeurs d’ombre (Values of the Shadow) were also adapted for this recording in January, 1994.
LUNE NOIRE (1987-89) 19:54
Transmutation 1; Lac noir (Black Lake); Theme de Lilith (Theme of Lilith); Transmutation 2; La porte ktroite (The Narrow Door)
Through the play of opposites and the confrontation of unique forms, the piece develops the evolving discourse of this combination to the detriment of the evocative power of the sounds themselves. These ‘painted’ forms (more pictorial than musical in their conception) are a means of integrating the sound colors (a non-synesthetic perception) with the quasi-plastic gestures of their temporal disposition. However, the sonorities are employed less for their semantic value than as a pretext for the elaboration of characteristic formal metamorphoses whose function is to imprint, upon their return, a role and a unity, an accent particular to these sounds. A crossing which symbolizes the obscurity to be overcome, the successive stages of fascination; incomplete poles of illusion or of reason.
Lune noire (Black Moon) is composed of two almost equal parts punctuated by Theme a’e Lilith (Theme of Lilith), a short isolating movement or interlude.
Each of these two parts treat the two contradictory poles of this great astrological subject : the first, Lac noir (Black Lake), of the transmutation towards disintegration; the second, La porte êtroite (The Narrow Door), of the transmutation towards a state of freedom.
Lune noire was commissioned by the INAGRM and was produced in 1987 at the INAGRM studios. The work was premiered on February 15, 1988 at the Grand auditorium of Maison de Radio-France during the Cycle acousmatique series. It was selected for the 1st Noroit-Léonce Petitot international Competition (Arras, France, 1989) and, for that occasion, was recorded on compact disc Prix internatioan( Noroit 1989 (NOR 1) in 1990.
SUR CHAMP D’AZUR (1984-86) 20:42
Aube (Dawn); Figures de nuages & prelude a l’orage ( Shapes of Clouds £ Prelude to the Storm); Tempête (Storm); Ciel lavé/ciel lourd (Bright Sky/cloudy Sky);
Intermède bleu (Blue interlude); Un del de Van Gogh (A Van Gogh Sky); Crépuscule (Dusk)
for my daughter
Alternating regions of tension and repose, of tempestuousness and peace, like the heavens. Cloudy, scattered, stormy or bright, clear skies or night skies, they always essentially derive from a foundation of azure...
FIELD Coat of arms. The surface of a shield. A lion rampant in a field of sky-blue. — The field of a medal, of an enamel: the area upon which one engraves, upon which one paints. (Le Petit Robert Dictionary)
The first version of Sue champ d’azur (In a Field of Azure) was composed at the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB) in March arid April, 1984 and was premiered on June 8, 1984 at the 14th Bourges international Festival of Experimental Music and subsequently presented on June 13, 1984 at the same festival in a concert of works chosen for the 1st International Rostrum of ElectroacOUstic Music (TIME) (Bourges, 1984). Sur champ d’azur was commissioned by the INAGRM. The present version, entirely revised in February and March, 1986 at the INA/GRM studios, was premiered on March 24, 1986 in the Grand auditorium of Maison de Radio-France during the Cycle acousmatique series.
VALEURS D’OMBRE (1986) 25:19
Les territoires de l’ombre (Domains of the Shadow); Vers Ia Iumikre (Towards the Light); Ascension 1; Ascension 2; Ascension 3; Lumière entrevue (A Glimpse of Light)
for my parents
This composition arises in part from the forms employed and from the confrontation of sequences between the formal units in an attempt to establish, by the opposition of diverse sections, a situation of tension from which should emerge a significant form of discourse whose meaning can only become apparent after such a necessary approach.
A slow metamorphosis in successive strata and waves of sound material evolving towards an intricacy of constituent elements before reaching a point where an increasingly perceptible dramatic decor is established with, in conclusion, the liberation of the accompanying forces and their collapse.
Valeurs d’ombre (Values of the Shadow) represents the exploration of a somber region of dark sonorities of the electroacoustic palette, and is also therefore a quest for the light. The juxtaposition of these zones, which, although desolate in appearance, are nonetheless distinguished by their plurality of relative values, was the principle objective of the work.
Valeurs d’ombre was commissioned by the INAGRM. The work was produced in November 1986 at the studios of the INAGRM and was premiered on January 21, 1987 at the Auditorium 105 of Maison de Radio-France as part of the Cycle acousmatique series.