Denis Levaillant

Mr Substone's Transharmonic Travels 2006

Electro-acoustic concert piece

Eighteen sequences of approximately 2í30 are mixed at random, two by two: the performance time is not specified. It is an experiment on the sensation of stretching time, like a loop effect with no return. Very, very strange!

ElectroSpacePiano 2003

Concert piece for piano and electro-acoustic (processed piano sounds ), 22'.


20 years after ...... ( Piano transit 1983 )

ElectroSpacePiano makes heard a piano-matter, the source of natural energy movements: the chords become stones, the highest notes streamings, two-handed runs tidal movements, the low notes landslides. The "electro" is in the pianism, lodged in the playing, and the instrument is swept away by its proliferation. Current digital techniques permit this liveliness of reaction and fusion.


Drama symphony 1994/1995

Electro-acoustic concert piece , 28'30".

Excerpt 1 - Excerpt 2 - Excerpt 3

In memoriam Edgar Varèse

Six movements of four minutes each, linked in pairs:

1. The discovery of the mystery (poco andante)

2. The threat of a madness (presto)

3. The internal expanse (largo)

4. The nocturnal carnival (allegro)

5. The solemn dance (adagio)

6. Tragic finale (moderato)

The mixing was carried out in collaboration with Marc Piéra.

The original sounds of Drama Symphony are excerpts from my orchestral piece Les Couleurs de la parole, sampled, then treated and mixed like concrete matter. Today, the to-and-fro between instrumental writing and studio work is, for me, extremely fruitful. For while I don't forget that musical expression was given to me by the instrument, nor do I forget writing by sound, which was finally invented here, at the GRM*. The mixture of these composition techniques creates a sort of virtual orchestra, which, while having the expression of known instruments, would have a constant presence, a rhythmic set-up without the slightest flaw, an ideal balance of planes, incredible dynamics, and the ability to play continuous tutti sounds without the slightest effort.

While I am always resistant to the prevailing thinking in contemporary music, which transforms music into an object of scientific study, I am, nonetheless, an avid user of scientific procedures that allow for capturing the poetic farther on. And digital treatments of sound are part of my compositional universe (in the same way that virtual images are now part of our common imagination). I admit that this inter-world, this hybrid orchestra between the known symphony and a new sound, fascinates and sometimes frightens me, like this inter-world between the real and the virtual in which we are beginning to live.

The descriptive content of Drama Symphony was given to me by the archetypes of illustrative music, of which "drama" is a modern genre, and which covers the feeling of violence, suspense, discovery and mystery, as well as the description of introspection and reminiscence all situations described in the vernacular production with a goodly number of synthesisers and rhythm boxes.

Throughout this work, I thought of Edgard Varèse and his symphonic utopia, which is why the score is dedicated to his memory.

D. L.

11 June 1995

*Translator's note: Musical Research Group of the National Audio-visual Institute

Eloge de l'eau 1985/1986

Electro-acoustic concert piece, 25'30".

Eloge du zarb 1984

Electro-acoustic concert piece, 5'30".


Piano transit 1983

Concert piece for piano and electro-acoustic (processed piano sounds ), 18'.

Excerpt 1 - Excerpt 2 - Excerpt 3

A concertante piano, projecting images and carrying on a dialogue with them, plunging the listener into a huge piano, bringing his or her ear very close to the soundboard, in the recesses of the instrument. Sounds were treated with the first digital algorithms of the famous Studio 123 (the first studio of digital sound treatment at the INA-GRM, the National Audio-visual Institute), developed around that time by Bénédict Maillard. Jean-Pierre Morkerken had invented for this creation a new concept of sound broadcasting. In 1983, I was formulating the dream of a new, hybrid piano coupled with a computer. We are no longer very far from that goal. Let there be no doubt about that: the piano is now in transit, like the great harpsichords at the end of the 18th century.

DL, 2003



Incidental music, electro-acoustic, with Daniel Deshays, 20'.