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3 CD Box Set: L'Oeuvre Musicale The complete works of Pierre Schaeffer, re-digitised and re-issued with newly discovered tracks.
Book and 3 x CDs: Solfege de l'Objet Sonore This book, accompanied by 285 tracks on 3 CDs of examples is a unique and indispensable resource work for all those interested in electroacoustic music. Examples by Parmegiani, Henry, Bayle, Xenakis, Luc Ferrari etc. illustrate Pierre Schaeffer's text.
Book: Audible Design by Trevor Wishart
5 CD Box Set: GRM Archive 5 CD Boxed Set containing music spanning half a century of GRM inspired compositions
12 CD Box Set: Parmegiani: l'Oeuvre Musicale The complete works of Bernard Parmegiani on 12 CDs

Trevor Wishart - Globalalia/Imago

Trevor wishart - Globalalia/ImagoA re-issue of Globalalia which explores human speech and the syllables common to all, and Imago, which is constructed entirely out of the sound of 2 whiskey glasses being clinked together. Classic Wishart at his best!

Wishart writes: "In Globalalia, I wanted to use human speech, but focus on what we hold in common as human beings. Although the world’s languages contain many millions of words, these are constructed from a much smaller set of sounds, the syllables. I wrote to several friends asking them to collect voices from their local radio stations, and also recorded voices from TV stations via satellite dish, assembling sounds from 134 voices in 26 different languages. I then edited these into their syllables, ending with more than 8300 sources."

Francis Dhomont - Etudes Pour Kafka

Francis Dhomont - Etudes Pour KafkaA new release from Francis Dhomont, who in the opinion of many is the greatest living composer of electroacoustic music. This CD contains 3 studies which were the seeds from which many of his other works grew. Behind major works of the scope of … mourir un peu, Sous le regard d’un soleil noir, and Forêt profonde, in these studies Dhomont experiments with the themes, tries out sound materials, and unveils glimpses of the final work. Dhomont at his best!

Denis Smalley - Sources - Scénes

Denis Smalley - Sources - ScénesrOne of our most popular titles is back in stock. Denis Smalley is one of the UK's best known composers of electroacoustic music, and this CD is a personal favourite of ours - definitely a desert island disc. The music is simply stunningly beautiful, the production and sound quality are as good as it gets. If you don't already have this CD, don't put it off any longer.
Parmegiani: l'Oeuvre MusicaleWe are fans of Bernard Parmegiani and so we now have all of his CDs in stock, including the newly released l'Oeuvre Musicale. If you don't know his music, we recommend that you make an acqaintence with it by listening to some clips and reading the comprehensive notes which we have on the site. Click here for links to his biography and all his CDs.
Pierre Hanry: Labyrinthe We now stock a selection of the best electroacoustic CDs from the GRM Catalog, both historic and new - Electroacoustic Classics from Pierre SchaefferPierre Henry Luc Ferrari and  Jean-Claude Risset are just some of the new offerings.

One of our most popular GRM titles is Pierre Henry's Labyrinthe - Pierre Henry says of Labyrinthe - "For the first time during my journey and ventures into the world of creation, I dreamt of a breath of fresh air deriving from the electronic realm." This CD is a real retrospective of this pioneer of electronic music.
New from Digital Music Archives - Download a continually expanding catalogue of electroacoustic music tracks!

You can now download a selection of single tracks of music from our website. All the tracks are encoded as top quality MP3s at 320k. All you have to do is go to our tracks page, add the ones you want to your shopping cart, and you will be presented with a webpage with links to the tracks as soon as your credit card payment has been authorised. You will also be sent an email with the links and a seven day period to download the tracks.
Our UK Event Listings service is now online....

We now have a listings page for concerts, festivals, conferences and workshops of electroacoustic music in the UK. We hope it will soon be the place to check up on whats happening and where. Its already up and running - click here! to check it out.
Looking for a course in electroacoustic composition? - Try our links page for some of the best places in the UK. You'll also find links to organisations and institutes all over the world.

Think we've missed out on something? Email us at and let us know.

CD Details for Luc Ferrari: Presque Rien

Presque Rien Luc Ferrari
Luc Ferrari is a remarkable electronic music pioneer. As director of GRM (1959/60) he worked closely with Pierre Schaeffer, who coined the term 'Musique Concrete' This CD contains 4 works - Music Promenade (1970) and Presque rien 1, 2 and avec fille.
Out of print
 Customer Reviews 
 Other Titles by Luc Ferrari 
 Audio Clips 
Track 1
Music Promenade 1
Track 2
Music Promenade 2
Track 3
Presque Rien no 1 (1)
Track 4
Presque Rien no 1 (2)
Track 5
Presque Rien no 1 (3)
Track 6
Presque Rien no 2 (1)
Track 7
Presque Rien no 2 (2)
Track 8
Presque Rien no 2 (3)
Track 9
Presque Rien avec filles (1)
Track 10
Presque Rien avec filles (2)
 Sleeve Notes 

About the Artist

Luc Ferrari

Autobiography nr 15

Luc Ferrari was born in Paris in 1929.

That first sentence makes him begin to wonder... 1929?

He has written lots of autobiographies in which he falsified the dates. (Writing drives him mad; it’s asking too much of him). And not daring to make himself jounger; he made himself older!

So there are loads of false dates going around. It was funny at the time. He finds it much less amusing now!
Then, 'born in Paris'... The fact of being born in Paris makes him wonder.
What if he’d been born in his father’s little village in Corsica?
And what if he’d been born in Marseilles, where his mother grew up?
He wonders what he would have become if he’d been born in Italy, the land of his ancestors...
An to all that, there’s no answer.

L.F.November 1994

About the Music

The Presque rien
[Almost Nothing] by Luc Ferrari

If the word masterpiece means anything, then it may surely be applied to Presque rien n°1, Ie lever du jour au bord de la mer [‘Almost nothing n°1, dawn at the seaside’], a composition for magnetic tape realized in 1970 by Luc Ferrari. Even before a single sound has been produced, the title of the work is already in itself a sign of uncommon poetic inspiration: it is delightfully pantheistic and, in a half century that has witnessed the gradual destruction of our natural environment, it is also ironically provocative. The success of this piece of electroacoustic music lies in the fact that it holds the listener’s attention from beginning to end with a combination of unpredictability, giving rise to apparent freedom in the sounds, and a harmonious architecture resulting from a secretly methodical use of polyphony.

The rushing of the surf, various indistinct sounds, the cackling of a hen, a donkey braying in the distance... We sense that it is still dark. The motor of a boat is started up; a cicada begins to chirp, then breaks off. We are immediately fascinated by the transparency and vastness of the space in which all these elements are set and structured. Now several cicadas strike up: the sun has begun to rise... In order to create ‘this realistic picture of a fishing village coming to life’ as truly as possible, Luc Ferrari set his microphones on the window-ledge of the house where he was living, looking out towards the Adriatic Sea, on one of the islands of the Dalmatian archipelago, during a stay in Yugoslavia. Later, in the studio, he was to add the subtle touches that make this gradual process of dawning day into something that, through the magnification of music, is ‘truer than true’.
Children call out to one another and their voices resound, echo; a car goes by; a woman bursts out laughing and sings a lament, while the cicadas gradually take over, producing absolute ‘repetitive’ music. Then, suddenly, everything stops: it is the end of the tape.

Taking as a basis the concept that gave made this work such a success, Luc Ferrari could have turned his skills to producing an unbroken series of pieces entitled Presque rien, which would have been very similar to one another, with just a few shades of difference; contemporary creators such as Mark Rothko and Morton Feldman have adopted that type of approach and no one would think of holding it against them. But the very idea of establishing a system, a method - albeit highly legitimate and justifiable - is as alien to the author of Presque rien, lever du jour au bord de la mer as speculation on the Stock Exchange would be to a busker. The idea of creating a ‘masterpiece’ is not one that preoccupies him, and if he happens to make one, it is almost unintentional. What interests him in the art of music is the possibility of going wherever he pleases without having to follow a pre-determined course, being able to take the risk of going wrong whilst seeing to it that any so-called ‘mistakes’ become a positive part of creativity.

Composed in 1977, Presque rien n°2, ainsi continue la nuit dans ma tête multiple [‘Almost nothing n°2, thus the night continues in my multiple head] is very different, from every point of view, from Presque rien n°1. First of all, the microphones and tape recorder are not static this time: they go out in search of the different elements that make up the ‘soundscape’. Secondly, the composer, along with his ‘abetter’ Brunhild, comments on his rovings, his movements, his aims. Admittedly, the words are hushed, confiding, as it were, and are as sparing as possible so as not to destroy the magic of the piece. But this time, nevertheless, the listener is not alone: he is accompanied on a guided tour and the presence of the roving recorder is made quite clear.

And there is much more. After a long sequence, during which we discover the various sounds of a nocturnal landscape - crickets, night birds, a distant bell, a dog barking, a symphony of insects, the solo songs of a bird, an insect in the grass - everything suddenly begins to change. The night has caught the composer unawares, making its way into his head, and in the course of his work in the studio, he suddenly gives free rein to his subjectivity, transforms the landscape of the night outside into a sort of ‘psychoanalysis of his own landscape at night’. This phantasm continues, reaching its peak in a nightmarish frenzy of storm and rain, and an insistent beating of electronic notes. Absorption in an idyllic natural setting could only avert the violence, wars and injustice that surround us just long enough to provide a glimpse of hope beneath the stars.

When Luc Ferrari had finished it, he considered Presque rien n°2 to be too personal to be made public, and it was not until two years later that he decided that ‘there was no reason why that secret night should not be brought into the sunlight’. Once again, we are struck by the strictly musical way the various sounds follow on from one another, are superposed and structured, from the beginning to the end of the piece.
The success of any work of art is always dependent on a dialectic between opposing forces, a play which is all the more efficient in that it is felt rather than clearly analysed at the time. Where Luc Ferrari’s pieces entitled Presque rien are concerned, we may find a key in an an earlier work, Music Promenade, realized in 1969 for four magnetic tapes, each comprising different recordings, played simultaneously on four separate tape recorders. We hear snippets of a military parade, a factory siren, folk-music, a Strauss waltz, snatches of women’s conversation and laughter, explosions and a political speech: recordings that were made live in Austria, Germany, Jugoslavia, England, France and Portugal. As the material on the tapes coincides and interacts, we have a successive telescoping of sound images. If there is nevertheless a musical continuity in the result of these encounters, it is firstly because the elements recorded on the tapes have been carefully chosen and, secondly, because they are usually repeated, so the general organisation of the work corresponds to a principle of superposed cycles.

While the American minimalists use repetitive processes to produce hypnotic effects, diverting attention from anything that is not directly related to those processes, Luc Ferrari, on the other hand, sees them as a natural means of polyphonically structuring sound elements borrowed from life. This principle, which is easily perceptible in Music Promenade - ‘a whirl of army men and industries, amidst which we catch a glimpse of a folk culture that is dying and a young girl lost’ - is taken up more secretly, more mysteriously in the Presque rien pieces. The composer’s art lies in the interspace between observation of life and a subtly musical organisation of sounds.

In a recent text entitled Je courais tant de buts divers [I was running after so many different aims], which attempts to establish some order in a course that is somewhat confused, Luc Ferrari himself speaks of ‘diffuse narration’, of the ‘magnetophone stylo’ (the tape recorder as a tool for writing), and of the ‘transformation of repetition’.

Like a thread, we find the charm of the female voice, at some moment or other, in most of Luc Ferrari’s works for magnetic tape. With a lightness and delicacy worthy of Watteau, he pays a particular tribute to that charm in Presque nan avec filles [‘Almost nothing with girls’], which he realised in 1989 from elements recorded within the space of a few days in the Tuscan countryside and in a forest in Alsace. Where painting is concerned, he more readily mentions Manet and his Dejeuner sur l’herbe, his picnic in the woods and his young women revealing their intimacy. Here the composer becomes a ‘voyeur’ trying to impart his agitation to the listener.

After the successive images of a flurry of wings as a bird takes flight, the sound of the wind getting up and rustling the leaves and branches of the trees, our attention turns indiscreetly to the hushed confidences of the girls. The shifting sounds of surrounding nature are unusually highlighted by electronic touches, which, in this musical work for magnetic tape, play a role similar to that of the brush-strokes a painter
applies to his canvas as he follows his inspiration.

Daniel Caux 1995
Translation Mary Pardoe

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