1. Le Discours des Ministries
premiere edition en 1961, Cinquieme Saison no. 13. Pour cet enregistement, realisation in Radio Cologne, 1971, voix de l’auteur
2. A l’impossible nul n’est tenu
Inedit, 1982. Studio et voix de l’auteur
3. Jeux de presence
studio et voix de l’auteur, 1980
4. Une fete de microparticules vocales
offerte a Francois Dufrene en juin 1982; Dufrene helas disparu le 12 decembre 1982. Studio et voix de l’auteur
5. La Chanson des Papes
Inedit, 1982. Jour des morts. Studio et voix de l’auteur
6. La poesie sonore du plus loin que le verbe et toujours pour lui
Inedit, 1982. A ma connaissance le seul manifeste sur le sujet. Studio et voix de l’auteur
7. Le Fond de la Gorge
Dedie a toute l’equipe de l’IPEM (Instituut voor Psychoacoustica en Elektroniche Muziek, Gent) et a ma femme. Il existe une version pour 4 pistes et 32 h.-p. Studio et voix de l’auteur, ensuite studio de l’IPEM, 1977.
»Poesie Sonore » Igloo, Belgium, IGL 013, 1983 Mixage final effectue au studio IGLOO-CARAMEL, fevrier 1983
The New Media
By Henri Chopin
For as long as can be remembered the major languages have presaged the grand designs of technical evolution. They have sided with it, have known how to adopt to it and have been able to develop it further, thereby augmenting the number of languages itself, This has been the case with the poésie electronique, that almost never confined itself to pre-existing languages, and also with the Futurists and the Dada.
These continuous mutations of the languages can never cease, and what is said in them today will be surpassed tomorrow… with and through the new media, the different techniques, the periods and vectors that are in progress, proceeding day after day.
These major languages I have been talking about are, of course, all written languages, but also those belonging to the infinitely mysterious Oral that has for some time now been regaining its strength with the advent of electronic recording. They make their appearance mainly in the realm of forms and visions, as dactylopoèmes , electroacoustic scores, or computer time structures.
These languages have discovered unknown powers: our signs, our alphabets, that ore continually growing - and will continue to grow towards infinity, an infinity we cannot conceive of today.
These major languages are above all the ones that form our senses, begin with those of hearing that offer us poetry and music and decline to make those retrograde steps that would take us back to Renaissance polyphony - a grandiose evolution we cannot experience anymore - back to ancient, self-effacing typography, something that my generation may sometimes regret.
Through these major languages we ore no more bound to our roots, our States, our mother tongues. All these are now to be found within the voice which, far from being a mere instrument of utterance, becomes a sonorous reality inscribing its intonations. One might say, the voice, in leaving the womb, rids itself from water in order to learn how to breath on the earth, the famous gasp that, with some help from our machines, sets us free in air.
Thus we are aerial beings, having come from water and then from earth…. And these aerial beings, having studied since birth the Les riches heures de l’alphabet, now discover the bone structure of the word, the alphabet, that lurks in the verbal spaces. Thus the alphabets solidifies a word that is in itself spatial. On the far side of the alphabet, no more hidden behind script, we encounter the voice, its grain, its ruggedness, its prosodies- where the computer gets entangled in the asperities of the prosodies.. Where -new resonances are born… An entire landscape. as Marc Battier remarked while reconstructing my voice solely from timbres, having shed all verbal connotations - including letters and signs - in order to highlight its sonorous properties. For the word is no more flesh: the vocal breath is flesh.
If I have previously invoked the infinity of language, I did certainly not intend it to be confined within the limit of our own lives. On the contrary - we can recall several millennia of oral tradition, as opposed to some centuries devoted to writing and just a few decades of recordings.
We know our archives cover only recent timespans. but still they allows us to suppose truly oral civilizations unknown to us for lack of any means to conserve them.
This reminds us that in modern times we know of two successive archives, both of them technical: the printing-press and its fonts - and then the electronics, from computers up to the present-day compact-discs.
On the one hand this evolution sets us apart from our written fictions, on the other hand it invents audio archives which, in my view, will enrich millennia with their manuscripts - and thus will re-establish the priority of the spoken word lot times to come. Beyond literary manifestoes, and beyond philosophical and ideological systems.
It is this shared understanding of the major languages that formed the basis for the fruitful dialogue, already spanning a decade, between myself and Paul Zumthor, the medievalist. This has been a complicity even more enriching then these with the sound poets I published for their sonorous properties. For none of them except Brion Gysin, has ever been aware of this grand theatre of language.
This vision took form rather through these multilinguals, Gysin and Zumthof, and through my wife, Jean Ratcliffe, and her feeling for the theatre of the word. It led Zumthor and myself to achieve Les riches heures de l’alphabet (1), a work that found its apogee in the exposition of its manuscripts in the Cabinet des Etampes at the Bibliothéque Nationale. This book, moreover, is being translated into German and Arabic - and is waiting for its translation into English.
The above statements show that the voice by itself is a complex and rich personality and that its imprints can create music (2) as well as itself.
Sound poetry… and music comes afterwards. (3), a somewhat insolent declaration I published in 1973. Marc Battier, a composer studying vocal values, has now taken up this remark.
We are therefore in another world, one that records its pure values, its multiple images, its unheard-of compositions with materials that could not be handled before the electronic revolution (4) and which not even James Joyce, that great researcher of language, could have discovered in his time, he who had nothing but writing.
This other world has now been under way for nearly half a century, it has become irreversible, with its voyages across the continents and up in the air …. These we find indescribable spaces, unidentifiable by the old writings or by our old semantic values, knowing that the written word itself tons out into -words generated by the machine. (5). This machine that only exists because it modifies itself day after day.
These dizzying appeals make sound poetry extend its reflections towards the millennia of oral tradition. And by way of these reflections we give back to poetry its proper futures when it need no more slumber in confidential booklets - where the poet alone can recognize himself.
—(translation: Sandeep Bhagwati)
(1) Edition Traversiére, Paris, 1992, visual composition by the editor Martine Saillard - photo composition - technique beyond lipography.
(2) CD by Marc Battler and Henri Chopin, titled Transparence, after the audio-poéme La cavalcade échevelée, edition Bond Age, Paris, under the direction of Ramuntcho Matta in 1995.
(3) <>, sentence taken from the magazine Opus International n. 40/41, 1973, titled Poésie an Question.
(4) The electronic revolution, by Wiliam S. Burroughs, first bilingual edition in Ingatestone, Essex, in 1972. French translation by Jean Ratcliffe. Burroughs and Brion Gysin have always supported sound poetry.
(5) A sentence taken from the book Machine Vertige by Claude Maillard, edition Le Temps du Non, Paris, 1993