Floating Sound Gallery

Jean-Claude Eloy


Photo (c) Volker Müller

Jean-Claude Eloy is a French composer, born in 1938. He studied at the Paris National Superior Conservatory of Music, where he won First Prizes in Piano, Chamber Music, Counterpoint, Ondes Martenot, and studied composition with Darius Milhaud.He attended summer courses at Darmstadt (Pousseur, Scherchen, Messiaen, Boulez, Stockhausen) and was a student in composition in Pierre Boulez’ master class at the Music Academy in Basel (1961-1963), where he received also the teaching of Stockhausen.

Works by Jean-Claude Eloy have been performed in many countries and continents. They have been conducted by Pierre Boulez, Ernest Bour, Michael Guilen, Bruno Maderna, Diego Masson, Michel Tabachnik, Arthur Weisberg and others…

He has lived in the United States (professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the sixties), Germany (invited by the studios of the WDR in Cologne, of the Technische Universität in Berlin, guest artist at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm), Holland (working for his compositions at the Institut of Sonology of the University of Utrecht, and at the electronic studio of the Sweelinck Conservatory, Amsterdam), Japan (where he collaborated with NHK and the National Theater of Japan, among other activities).

He participates regularly in numerous international festivals in Europe, but also in Asia, the USA, Canada and Latin America, as sound-projectionist for his electro-acoustic works andwith the soloists closely associated with his compositions: Fatima Miranda (vocalist), Yumi Nara (soprano), Michael Ranta (percussionist), Junko Ueda (Shômyô singer and Satsuma-Biwa player), Kôshin Ebihara and Kôjun Arai (Buddhist monk singers), Mayumi Miyata (Shô player), etc…
Published by Heugel, Amphion, Universal Edition (Vienna), he created “hors territoires” in 2004 in order to help the publication of his texts, books, recordings, and scores.

“ … A solitary composer who has managed one of the most significant syntheses of 20th century music (between electronic and acoustic music, but also between Western and non-European traditions), Eloy tackles and convincingly solves an essential problem of our time: the relationship to the other, to the stranger, to what is different, not so much as an object of curiosity, admiration or submission, but as a vitalizing source of creative inspiration”.
“The New Grove Dictionary of Music”, 1998,
Dr. Ivanka Stoïanova, Professor at the University of Paris VIII
(translated by Meredith Escudier)

« SHÂNTI » (« peace ») for electronic and concrete sounds

Réalisation – Studio für Elektronische Musik, WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), Cologne, 1972-73
Revised and digitalized version (2006) 

Part IV (final part) :
« Vagues lentes, boucles de feux » (« slow waves, loops of fires » – env. 6′) – « Contemplation aux enfants » (« contemplation with children » – env. 15′) – « Vastitude » (« vastness » – env. 18′) 

“Shânti” is a work which last about 140′. The final part (part IV) is proposed for this concert. When Shânti was first presented, it was hailed by the press as a major event as it was revealed at the festival of Royan in 1974. Then after its revival at the Autumn Festival of Paris that same year, Eloy was invited to perform the piece on various continents: the Americas (United States, Brazil, Canada), Asia (Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taipei), Europe (UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden…). 

After waiting for years and a first exile to the United States, Eloy finally had the opportunity to express himself in the field of electro-acoustics as he was invited by Karlheinz Stockhausen at the famous WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) studio in Cologne, Germany. “Shânti” is dedicated to him. 

Coming shortly after “Kâmakalâ” (1971, for three orchestra ensembles, five choir ensembles, with three conductors, about 32′) “Shânti” did start for Eloy a new period of his creation and life. In an article about Eloy, musicologist Ivanka Stoïanova explained: “… Shânti… was noticed for the richness of its sound material and the scope of its dimensions. Some spoke of an explosion of lyrical abstraction in the context of electronic music, others noticed the influence of Oriental concepts, such as sound as origin and source, as celebration, meditation, rite or magic…” (“Beyond ancient frontiers”, “New Grove Dictionary of Music”, 1998). 

“Shânti” paved the way for Eloy and guided him towards those so-called great “frescoes” (large sound and noise poems…) to become one of his signature: “Gaku-no-Michi”, “Yo-In”, the “Anâhata” cycle, etc. 

(“hors territoires”, translated by Hélène Demortier) 

 “Electro-Anâhata”, (1986-1994)
part III: “le roseau, la mer, et les étoiles”.

« Electro-Anâhata » is a work derived from my original work « Anâhata » (which is a Sanskrit work meaning « Primordial vibration »)which was performed during the 80th and 90th in various major European festivals using(on the side of largely developed electroacoustic parts) different live parts made for traditional musicians from Japan(since I was at this time very often living in Japan): two Buddhist monks-singers, three Gagaku players (Ryuteki, Hichiriki, Shô), and a percussionist using a full orchestra of percussion instruments, all of them coming from Asia. 

I decided later to realize a version only for electroacoustic music, adding several new electronic parts. I did this work during the years 94/95 and could do the final master only in 2013. 

« The Reed, the Sea and the Stars » is the part III of this work (mainly realized in 1986 at the studio for electronic music from the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam, with different helps from the studios of the Technische Universität in Berlin and from the INA-GRM in Paris).This part is grounded on samplings from the japanese intrument, the Shô : a traditional mouth organ from Japan, producing 15 sounds, in a sort of diatonic scale. 

My first attempt once inside a studio was to develop,transpose, and enlarge this scalefor getting a regular half tone and quarter tones scale, covering three octaves. Then we fabricated (inside the studio of the Sweelinck Conservatory) several microchips which would open and close the potentiometers of the mixing desk – an Amek consoleentirely piloted by Voltage Control technics.So a large amount of melodic figures and chords were produced, having different speed (either very slow or extremely quick) keeping the qualities and timbre characteristics of the Shô instrument, but impossible to generate on the original instrument. 

Then I proceeded all of these figures through different circuits, using abundantly the Voltage Control technics. Modules in this studio were of the type : « Sample and Hold », « Trigger Divider », « Product Modulator », « Slew Limiter », « Pitch Envelope Follower », « Flip-Flop », « Or-Nor », « And-Nand », etc…All of these modules(which were in large quantities each of them…)allowing to treat thoroughly the voltage for filtering (control voltage filters), modulating (controlled voltage modulators), multiplying, etc… from all of such figures. 

Besides the material coming from the Shô samplings (largely used in that work), there is the use of different « modal chimes », and at the end a « field recording » taken in Vlissingen, on the sea side, an were there was the very discrete sound of a « wind organ »…