Jean-Claude Risset (1938-2016)

L'autre face (1983)

for soprano and synthesis sounds

electronic work

  • General information
    • Composition date: 1983
    • Duration: 12 mn
    • Publisher: édition du compositeur
    • Dedication: à Irène Jarsky
    • Libretto (details, author):

      sur le poème L'Autre face Roger Kowalski (Le Silenciaire, Paris, Editions Guy Chambelland, 1961).

  • Type
Detailed formation
  • solo soprano

Premiere information

  • Date: 1983

    France, Marseille, Théâtre du Merlan, concert GMEM


    Irène Jarsky : soprano.

Information on the electronics
Studio information: LMA-CNRS (Marseille-Luminy)
Electronic device: sons fixés sur support (sons de synthèse réalisés par ordinateur fixés sur support 2 pistes)


Enregistrement : Irène Jarsky, CD WERGO « Computer Music Currents 7 », WER 2027-2, 1990 ; Maria Tegzes, CD NEUMA « Electro Acoustic Music I », NEUMA 450-73, 1990.

Program note

Tape realized in Marseille ( Laboratoire de Mécanique et d'Acoustique du CNRS et Faculté des Sciences de Luminy ) with the MUSIC V program.

In this piece (1983), the soprano dialogues with a tape generated by computer. The form of the piece was influenced by a poem: L'autre face by Roger Kowalski (in Le Sielciaire, Editions Guy Chambelland, Paris) - even though I only discovered when the tape was already begun : the text elements and their relationships struck me as related to those on which I was working.

The poem is sung in a lyrical and expressionist style, calling for non-conventional singing techniques: high pitches, inhaled sounds, voice split into multiphonics, vocal harmonics. In counterpoint with the voice, the tape exposes motives and textures synthesized or processed with the MUSIC V program. I used only a few instrumental tones processed by computer: most of the tape sounds are synthetic, for instance sustained tones are "animated" by proper beats, trills undergoing gradual changes, pseudo-drums scanning time. I also resorted to the computer to generate serial developments and harmonic clouds emanating from specified chords. Quasi-vocal syntheses - uttered by no one's voice - are like virtual counterparts of the soprano live on stage. At the end, the soprano's part is entangled with sinuous melodic lines traveling in space and dwindling in the treble.

The piece is dedicated to Irene Jarsky, whose vocal invention enriched the vocal part. It appears on CD Wergo 227-2 (Digital Music Digital), with Irène Jarsky, soprano, and on CD Neuma 450-73 with Maria Tegzes, soprano.

Jean-Claude Risset.