Musical quotation and a recurrent sonic theme in Francis Dhomont's Cycle du Son.

University of Liverpool

Francis Dhomont's Cycle du Son is a celebration of musique concrète and also a homage to its inventor Pierre Schaeffer. It is a collection of four works: Objets retrouvés, AvatArsSon, Novars and Phonurgie. This paper discusses two recurring elements throughout the work. Firstly, the use of musical quotation, in particular material from Pierre Schaeffer's Étude aux Objets. Secondly, it identifies a series of sound objects derived from these quotations that together form a recurring sonic theme that defines the work. Recurrences of the sonic theme are mapped and a system of classification is put forward to illustrate the evolution of the theme across the course of the work. The analysis makes use of the visual representation of sound materials and spectromorphological descriptions throughout.

The paper begins with a visual representation and analysis of the opening of Schaeffer's Étude aux Objets identifying the specific sound materials that are quoted throughout Cycle du Son. It goes on to trace the occurrence of these quotations throughout the course of the work. A concentration of quotations is noted in Objets retrouvés, and Novars, with the quotation of classic works from the electroacoustic repertoire also being observed in AvatArsSon. It is noted that Phonorgie only has one quotation of Schaeffer's material.

Three distinct sound objects that occur in Objets retrouvés, are identified. Through the application of spectromorphology and the visual representation of sound materials, it is suggested that these sound objects are derived from transformations of material taken from Étude aux Objets and referred to earlier in the paper. The analysis goes on to suggest that recurrences of these sound objects in Objets retrouvés follow a specific pattern that continues throughout Cycle du Son. This is now referred to as the sonic theme.

It is suggested that there are numerous occurrences of the sonic theme throughout Cycle du Son. These recurrences are identified and a system of classification suggests that the theme undergoes varying degrees of sound transformation throughout the course of the entire work. Examples are given ranging from incidences where the sonic theme is clearly recognisable to moments where is it more ambiguous. In general it is proposed that the sonic theme becomes further removed from its original sonic behaviour as presented in Objets retrouvés as the work progresses. A parallel between the concentration of quotations and the transformation of the theme is also suggested. It is noted that the higher number of quotations in Objets retrouvés coincides with small subtle transformations of the sonic theme whilst there is only a single quotation in Phonorgie but the theme appears to undergo more elaborate transformations.

The paper proposes that the sonic theme performs a variety of functions. Firstly, that it provides a link between the material quoted from Schaeffer and Dhomont's original material. Secondly, that elements of the theme provide musical landmarks and more generally, the theme gives the listener something to hold on to throughout a suite that is nearly sixty minutes in duration. It is further suggested that the striking nature of the the material itself is what defines Cycle du Son as a whole.

Finally it is recognised that the sound types identified by Lewis in his analysis of Novars do in fact reach across Cycle du Son. This implies that there are in fact numerous further links between the works. However, a more in depth analysis is required to illustrate this and is beyond the scope of this particular paper.

adrian 2015-06-03