Ode To Gravity:
Three French Sound Poets

Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 99 min
Event Type: Interview and Music Program Origin: KPFA

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François Dufrêne, Henri Chopin & Bernard Heidsieck were all pioneers in the field of sound poetry. Working in Paris in the mid 1950s, they developed extraordinary vocal sounds which were mixed electronically to produce poems which sounded rather than meant. Chopin moved to England where he continued to publish a yearly periodical of concrete poetry called “OU.” Dufrene and Heidsieck remained in Paris where they continued to record their works. In this program all three give their views on the art of sound poetry, which, although well known abroad, has attracted little attention in the United States. The program begins with an interview with Henri Chopin and his family, recorded by Charles Amirkhanian and Carol Law at Chopin’s home in Ingatestone, Essex, on April 3, 1972. Chopin’s English wife, Jean, assists in translating from French to English during this discussion about Chopin’s early work, influences, and recent publications. Also joining in the discussion is Chopin’s daughter Brigitte who is also an artist. Henri Chopin was an active member of the French avant-garde from at least 1950 until his death in 2008. Chopin was a pioneer in the field of musique concrète and sound poetry, being one of the first to recognize the potential for such creations when tape recorders initially became available to consumers.

Bernard Heidsieck is also interviewed about his early experimentation with tape recorders in order to produce sound poetry and his early associations with Chopin and Dufrêne. He talks about the differences between his work and those of the Letterists poets. As he describes it, Lettrism, while noteworthy for its avant-garde sensibility, did not go far enough in getting the poems “off the page,” and did not take advantage of the emerging electronic technologies.

The program concludes with an interview with François Dufrêne, conducted largely in French. However even for those unfamiliar with the language, Dufrêne’s energy and sense of humor is clearly evident. In addition to their comments on the history and current status of sound poetry in Europe, each artist is heard performing a selection of their own works, either pre-recorded or as impromptu live performances.

Part 1 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  Le Discours Des Ministres (1961) (2:43) / Henri Chopin -- Lè Ventre de Bertini (1967) (3:30) / Henri Chopin -- Ravaillac, Tu Connais?: Passe-partout No. 1 (1969) (4:10) / Bernard Heidsieck
Performers:  Henri Chopin, voice, etc... (Discours ; Ventre)
Bernard Heidsieck, voice, etc... (Ravaillac)
Genres:  Sound Poetry; Electro-Acoustic / Electronic
Subject:  Chopin, Henri; Heidsieck, Bernard, 1928-; Lettrism; Sound poetry; Text-sound compositions; Visual poetry; Concrete poetry; Electronic music
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Chopin, Henri; Chopin, Jean; Ratcliffe-Chopin, Jean; Law, Carol; Chopin, Brigitte ; Morton, Brigitte ; Heidsieck, Bernard, 1928-
Recording Date:  9/27/1972
First Broadcast Date:  9/27/1972
Part 2 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  Encoconnage: Passe-partout No. 9 (1972) (18:28) / Bernard Heidsieck -- Recitativo all'italiana [excerpt] (ca. 1970) (1:07) / François Dufrêne -- Paris-Stockholm (1968) (11:49) / François Dufrêne
Performers:  Bernard Heidsieck, voice, etc... (Encoconnage)
François Dufrêne, voice, etc... (Recitativo ; Paris)
Genres:  Sound Poetry; Electro-Acoustic / Electronic
Subject:  Heidsieck, Bernard, 1928-; Janicot, Françoise ; Dufrêne, François, 1930-1982; Sound poetry; Text-sound compositions; Electro-acoustic; Art, Modern
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Heidsieck, Bernard, 1928-; Janicot, Françoise ; Dufrêne, François, 1930-1982
Recording Date:  9/27/1972
First Broadcast Date:  9/27/1972


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