Claustrum (1996-97) (Urbana 6)

For percussion and fixed sounds.

Commissioned by INA-G.R.M.
Premiered by Geoffroy at the Olivier Messiæn Hall on 19th May, 1997.

Duration: 18 minutes

Dedicated to my son Rodrigo and to Jean Geoffroy.

Within the “Urbana” cycle and its chronological development, “Claustrum” marks an important shift in becoming aware of the relationship between the musical space and the real physical space in which the composition comes to life. It is this direction that the investigation and the reflection followed, rather than thinking of a specific cloister. “The most ancient monastic rules use the latin term clautrum to designate the real or the fictional barrier which separates the religious person and the rest of the world.

The composition’s origin has different roots. First, it is related to Le Bagne by Jean Genet for whose premiere by the Valsez-Cassis company I composed the incidental music in 1966.

Cartongraphie (Cardoard images): Abel Robino. Mixed technique on paper 150 X 150cm.

The second parallelism, which is less clear but perhaps more surprising, is a painting by Abel Robino, for which he used a “zig-zag” technique and of which the number 5 (like the tubular bells that separate the percussionist from the audience) is one of the points of contact. This work by Abel was truly parallel; tacit, I would say. Never was there any previous explicitation and, curiously, the work is headed towards similar directions. Genet’s writing in “Le Bagne” and his relationship with language guided my decision of giving the percussionist Jean Geoffroy the notion and the term “percussor” (in Latin, he who causes death, who kills).

Other important concepts come from Genet’s work (the theatre piece as well as the film script). One of them is important here: the exercise of freedom and the seclusion, either voluntary or forced.

We are touching on topics which have a lot to do with the creative act and imagination. Nothing is emptier than the most beautiful structure. The poetry of the matter fills, at every moment, “the whole darkness of time” as Genet says.

While working on the theatre play (a short time before writing Claustrum) I wrote on a sketch notebook:

Le bagne – le bagne? (The galleys – the galleys?)

No reality lacks void. After a somewhat important effort to understand reality, it appears incomplete before us; the world requires our involvement in order to transform it, the creative act is thus an expression of humanity. In seclusion’s (le bagne) oppressive reality, which is tinged of eternity due to its inescapable nature, the will to create shows its essence with a stronger force than in our everyday life. In this way, a representation of seclusion (le bagne) only finds its resonance in internal seclusion, awareness of our limited physiology, human – although impregnated with eternity and supernaturality.

The “bagnards” are, as anyone would be in a similar situation, demigods, demiurges building a new world from ruins and the prisons of the ancient world, the real world. It is the dialectic nature of the building spirit which makes the amalgam (perhaps the only one possible) between consciousness of the void (little does it matter whether it is internal or forced seclusion) and the final realisation of the creative act.



Jean Geoffroy : Percussion
Enregistrement public de la création
Maison de Radio France – Salle Olivier Messiaen Son MU
janvier 1997
*Editions Alfonce

[ Urbana Cycle ]
[ Solo instrument / with or without electronics ]