Erda / Suite N

A 2 track musique concrete album (49m 39s) — released April 29th 2016 on Recollection GRM

Erda (1972)

This piece illustrates my early research carried out in a professional composition studio. After studying every available tools and creating variably hybrid connections between them, I chose to compose several short sequences, each being the expression of a research based on a sonic manipulation and exploring a well defined sound hue. Besides, my background as a percussionist and a jazzman encouraged me to conduct a rhythmical study in each of these sequences.

'Erda' consists of seven movements:

1. Variations: a lengthy framework interwoven with granular variations.

2. Cellules (Cells): this movement comprises a group of melodico-rhythmic cells shifting from the left channel to the right channel. The slightly raucous and acid texture of the 'square' sounds, that can be heard in several movements, is a reminder of saxophone and muted brass sonorities, as used in contemporary jazz.

3. Grillons: (crickets) an evocation of the realm of insects.

4. 54 oiseaux (birds): stereotypical bird songs produced by the generators of the studio 54.

5. Erda: a tribute to the Goddess of Wisdom and the Earth in Wagner's Das Rheingold and Siegfried.

6. Genorgue: this sequence is somehow mirroring Cellules. The sound has however lost some of its aggressiveness and is getting closer to that of an organ or an electric piano.

7. Klook: rhythmical drumming figures such as those Kenny Clarke (aka Klook) used to teach me.

8. In memoriam J.C.: a tribute to John Coltrane.

Suite N (1982)

Commissioned by the Direction de la Musique and the Ina GRM.

Composed in the Ina GRM's numerical composition studio with the assistance of Benedict Maillard and Yann Geslin.

In a composition studio, musical research is never very far removed from madness. The first step is the initial work on the sound picked up by the microphone and the varieties of delirium that result from it : exaggerated amplification, inversion, transformation. Synthesizers and their crazy possibilities com next. The third step is the computer, one of the purest products of logic. All the same, the musician approaches the robot warily : he prefers his own models to formal and mathematical models, and he uses the computer like an instrument. Anyway that seems to be the choice of the computer group in charge of studio 123 at the G R M ; and we may congratulate ourselves that this is the case. Thanks to the MUSIC V program. GRM's PDP 11 computer can synthesize sounds from any instrument. Mainly it can transform and treat absolutely any sound fed into its memory : sequence accumulation, contraction, drawing out of sequence, acceleration, slowing down, reversing, spatialization, filtering, speed variation, etc....; all this on a much broader scale than comparable traditional means. My intention in 'Suite N' was, on the one hand, to use solely sounds produced by the computer either by direct synthesis (MUSIC V) or by sound treatment, and, on the other hand, to work with a definite form. A, B and C correspond to the exposition of the themes. A' B' and C', to their variations. Each of the nine families of sounds represents a different instrument. Once the musical lines are established, they are re-used, together with their variations, in the development of the piece.


Cut by CGB at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin, August 2015
Digital Transfer: Jonathan Fitoussi
Translations: Valerie Vivancos
Layout: Stephen O'Malley
Coordination GRM: Daniel Teruggi & François Bonnet
Executive Production: Peter Rehberg

Jean Schwarz is an idiosyncratic figure in the world of electroacoustic music. With a dual background in jazz and ethnomusicology, he has crossed times and genres with an unwavering singularity, infusing improvisation, ballets or cinema with the art of acousmatics. 'Erda' or 'Suite N', each in their own way, demonstrate Schwarz's unique propensity for exploring sound, its cross-fertilisations and its evocative power.

François Bonnet, Paris, 2015

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