flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano

Commission: Ensemble Transmission, with support from the CALQ

Premiere: April 29, 2011, Trans/plosion, Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Montréal (Québec)

Deleuze and Guattari’s body-without-organs is defined as an anomalous shapeshifter—it is fluid, boundless, mutable, and in a continual process of ‘becoming’—no longer confined by the medical profession’s corporeal boundaries. In her book Deleuze and Horror Film author Anna Powell analyses horror film from a Deleuzian perspective and conceptualizes the body-without-organs as it applies to certain films and characters from the genre. Cronenberg’s Videodrome, Tourneur’s Cat People, Verhoeven’s Hollow Man are some of the films that feature this type of entity. She also looks in great depth at the literal body-without-organs: i.e. the character Frank Cotton in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser whose organs gradually restore themselves throughout the film after being torn to shreds by the Cenobites.

Music for Body-Without-Organs is a sonic representation of this continuous process of movement and flux and the fusion of elements to form new entities. It is what I imagine these characters would dance or listen to while going about their business. The work is continuously shifting and mutating. It has moments of trance-like material, elements of glitch, psychedelic touches, and a distorted interpretation of ambient music.

While composing the piece I also envisioned a striking scene from Herk Harvey’s 1962 cult classic Carnival of Souls. It involves the main character Mary Henry, who is perhaps a zombie, possessed, or simply undead (it is never really made clear, only that there is something “off” about her). While practicing hymns alone in church one night she falls into a trance. The hymns suddenly mutate into eerie and twisted melodies. Her pointed toes begin to work the organ’s pedals with fierce abandon. Her fingers rapidly caress the keys with more and more urgency while she sways and contorts her body to the music. As she moves deeper into a trance, ghouls materialize and begin dancing to her demonic music. Arriving in time to avert the song’s conclusion, the church’s minister appears, pulls her hands off of the keys and proclaims the music sacrilege.

Nicole Lizée [iv-11]

Performances

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