Voi(Rex) (2001-02)

Philippe Leroux

voice, flute, piccolo, clarinet, bass, violin, cello, piano, percussion, and processing

I. L’invisible debout / II. Jusque / III. De part […] En part / IV. Devant tout autour / V. L’inachevé à son faîte

Voi(Rex) was composed using poems by Lin Delpierre, taken from a collection entitled Le testament des fruits. The poems have been freely reordered, even mixed at times. The meaning of the text remains mostly understandable and contributes to the overall expression of the piece, but its structure also determines some of its features. The poems also serve as phonetic material and suggest several figuralisms scattered throughout the piece. The very calligraphy of the letters, as a cousin of the melody archetypes that are soundwaves, is used to generate rhythmic/melodic models and spatial trajectories. Finally, some scenographical movements borrow stylistic and punctuation traits from the poems.

The piece is in five movements preceded by a short introduction. Each movement is built over one or several unique features. The idea driving the piece is the confrontation between various model types. What could be called «the model’s model.» First of all, the singer recorded the poems upclose to gongs and a tomtom resonating to the sound of her voice. After analysis, this produced the harmonic elements that were used throughout the work. She also recorded an improvised sequence using specific vocal techniques. Recorded sounds were then selected, isolated and worked on using editing techniques only - no treatments were involved. These sounds were then presented to the singer as new models. She now had to imitate herself from a recording that had been stripped out of certain bits of sounds that were recorded the first time. Little by little, this process generated a set of vocal elements that could be used as a model for the instruments and the electronics. A number of technomorphic models were also used, shifting constantly back and forth between voice, instruments and electronics.

I would like to thank Frédéric Voisin, without whom this work would not have seen the light of day, Donatienne Michel-Dansac for her great talent and patience, and Gilles Leothaud for his precious advice in writing the vocal part.

Voi (Rex) was commissioned by the State and the Ircam-Centre Pompidou, and realized at Ircam with the help of Frédéric Voisin, musical assistant. It is dedicated to François Paris.

Philippe Leroux