Champ Lacombe is pleased to present a month of virtual and live programming focused on the work of Eliane Radigue.
Eliane Radigue (b. 1932, Paris) is a leading figure in the history of experimental music and the sonic arts. Influenced by ‘musique concrète’, a type of musical composition that utilizes recorded sound as raw material, and shaped by her discovery of analogue synthesizers, her work unfolds an intensity which is at once subtle and monumental. Simultaneously intimate while expansive.
Through her deep reflection on sound and listening her works, but also her working methods, have come to shape a widely resonating set of new parameters for working with sound as musical material.
Radigue, who turns 90 in January, has built a framework of performers-as-compositional-material that, over the course of the last decade, presents a paradigmatic shift in the way composer and performer work together. Her works often transcend pure composition. They are eco-systems, a complex form of musical ideas, forms and images.
Radigue began experimenting with overlapping tape loops, microphone feedback, and modular synthesizers in the 1950’s and 60’s. Heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism her practice focuses on the ways vibration and sound afect the body and consciousness.
Her works from the 1950’s until the early 2000’s were focused primarily on the use of the ARP 2500 modular synthesizer and magnetic tape, and from 2001 she moved into composing for acoustic instruments and performers.
Through these works she emphasizes the importance of the live and human experience. Her extremely sober, almost ascetic concerts, are made of a continuous, ever-changing yet extremely slow stream of sound, whose transformation occurs within the sonic material itself.
Radigue’s approach to composition explores the notion of gesture in sound. Radigue reflected on the sensitivity of gesture stating, “When one maintains the balance between a microphone and a loudspeaker, there is a very precise limit in order to make it change ever so slightly. If you go too near to the speaker, everything collapses. If one moves too far away, it disappears. It was a technique that not only required the ability to listen, but gestural patience.”
For the duration of the exhibition Lisa Rovner’s film Chez Eliane will be screened, on loop, in the gallery. The film begins with archival footage of Eliane, in 1960, asleep at her home in Nice, where she lived with the artist Arman. It then moves to document Eliane, listening for the first time to a performance by the Ensemble Dedalus of her work ‘Hepta 1’, which she created specifically for this ensemble, through oral transmission.
In discussing the importance of oral transmission in her practice Radigue has said:
Oral Transmission is the most widespread method in all the world’s music and actually not only for music, but also for speech - the vehicle of thought somehow for everything that makes for our humanity. Born in ancient Greece, only European music has developed a system for closely translating the basic components of all music; rhythms, pitches, durations and dynamics. These values favor the respect of the laws of natural acoustics, while nevertheless subsequently adding conventions of temperament and range to them. This music needs a margin of imprecision in order to allow the instrumentalist the freedom to give rigorous and precise form to what has been transmitted orally. Naturally, there is always a margin of imprecision and I am interested precisely in what happens within this margin, this little space that remains open to interpretation. Oral transmission permits a more direct exchange of ideas. It encourages their contemplation and generates a fluctuating submersion, a ripening over time. Eastern cultures call this the ‘heart to heart’, the site of the spirit. In such cultures, the heart, not the brain, is where the music is created.