very interesting book was recently published (2004) by the musicologist
Ivanka Stoianova , Ph.D in musicology, and professor at the University
of Paris VIII. Among other writings, this book reprints a new version
of an article written in 1988 about the music of Jean-Claude Eloy,
entitled "A la Recherche du Feu Méditant" (In Search
of the Meditative Flame). This title paraphrases Jean-Claude Eloys
work: "A lApproche du Feu Méditant" (Approaching
the Meditative Flame), composed in 1983 for Gagaku orchestra and
two Buddhist monk choirs (from the Shingon and Tendai sects), and
performed the same year at the National Theatre of Japan (Kokuritsu
Gekijo), in Tokyo.
publication is an expanded version of the original text, including
parts of an interview by the author with Jean-Claude Eloy who comments
on his work from the time of his youth and his initial studies to
his more recent projects such as his current work-in-progress,
entire book offers a number of writings about composers from the
second half of the 20th century. For details, please refer to the
preceding page (special information page).
the original version of this text (1988), see :
(go to "intros-biograph")
of a section from the 1988 version (pp. 213-214) :
Within the slow spirals of "star time", the works of J.-CL.
Eloy ignore the petty restrictions put on musical pieces destined
for ordinary concerts and his works extend over two, three, four
hours. As in the electro-acoustic fresco Gaku-no-Michi or the four
acts of the "imaginary ritual" in Yo-In, a solo-percussionists
long journey through a hundred or so instruments embedded into their
electro-acoustic metamorphosing reflections. Or even in the immense
imaginary ritual of Shômyô voices, Gagaku instruments
and their electronic reverberations in Anâhata. Contrary to
the homeostatic sound blankets in the great works of repetitive
minimalists, Eloys compositional strategy adopts a framework
of vast "maximalist" architectures : a strategy founded
on the formative principle of contrast (but over time, through drawn
out transformations) and on the fundamentally dialectical reasoning
that aims for the integration of opposites within a coherent overall
work. Passages of great violence and extremely dense swirling movements
of sound transform, through gradual processes, into practically
still and transparent contemplative moments, according to a gestural
logic that displays opposites and multiplicities as they move towards
integration into a coherent whole in spite of extremely vast dimensions.
true greatness of this music lies not in its nomadic surge as it
traverses the whole world, nor in the multiplicity of the most sophisticated
of means and techniques used, nor in the composers virtuoso
mastery of his craft, nor in the impressive scale of his works,
but above all in its immensely human dimension, a dimension that
is sorely lacking today in the virtuoso manipulators of computers.
works immerse us in a "unique gold" where we recall our
adult, adolescent and childhood fantasies, in search of a deep truth,
in search of ourselves, within ourselves and within the world. This
nomadic, eternal, timeless and above all fundamentally human dimension
is what makes the attractive force of the "spirals of the same
galaxy" in Eloys music. For it itself is on a continual
quest for "the Meditative Flame": "... its meditation
is the heart, that is, the fullness of the world, the dimension
that lights the way and gives us shelter..." (*).
(*) M. Heidegger, "Alèthéia, Commentaire d'Héraclite",
in Essais et conférences, Gallimard, Paris, 1958, pg. 333.
in French :
"Entre détermination et aventure"
Essais sur la musique de la deuxième moitié du XXème
determination and risk"
Attempts on the music of the second half of the XXth century
Editions l'Harmattan, Paris, 2004
a book published by the musicologist François Decarsin in
2003 under the title of "La musique, architecture du temps"
(Music, architecture of time), we can quote an interesting commentary
in the chapter entitled : "Du continu au temps lisse"
(From continuous to unbroken time) (pp. 152 à 154):
This achievement of immobility, of loss of awareness with regard
to the notion of time, is claimed, in varying degrees, by composers
from Jean-Claude Eloy to Ligeti or La Monte Young. The work no longer
refers here to the criteria necessary to put into perspective a
past /future axis through the action of memory and the return of
the familiar, nor even those criteria that structure the present,
because of the slowness of its unfolding and the often imperceptible
continuity of renewal [
] "it is music that is absolutely
continuous without one single interruption from the beginning to
the end (*)" [
Jean-Claude Eloy, Shanti (record cover), Erato, 1979 (STU 71205/6).
This very important continuity in flow in no way prevents internal
structure, as evidenced in the four parts of Gaku--no-michi, but
these differences appear only over a long period, just as two colors
can be distinguished before and after the dilution that gradually
unites them, blurring the stages as they pass from one to another
without ever really weakening their intrinsic difference. Thus,
the musical framework unfolds in an ongoing overlap that destroys
the lines between sound moments ; it changes gradually and defies
identification at the moment of change, which, nonetheless, exists.
permanent mobility defining this music refrains from ever settling
into a trajectory that would allow for an orientation based on the
ability to differentiate among various states, but instead, it overcomes
formal structures in a process of irreversible action, progressing
in a " limitless spiral ", a unifying force within its
general articulation ; the sound concluding the second part of Gaku-no-michi,
iden-tified as a pedal point, is for that matter conceived by the
composer as having an " internal development ". Thus,
despite the presence of the " sound of meditation " in
Shanti and " stages of contemplation " in Gaku-no-michi,
the expression is never fixed into the standstill of a truly unbroken
progression of time : the very long duration of metamorphoses alone
hampers the establishment of a temporal topography, of a past /
future axis, without ever sliding into complete stasis.
of this concern for continuity and gradual development can be found
in the works of Steve Reich [
] A search for "neutralized"
time appears to be a concern for Ligeti as well
Decarsin is a professor at the University of Aix-Marseille I, and
a researcher in the Laboratory " Esthétique des arts
contemporains " (Aesthetics in contemporary arts) at the CNRS
/ Université Paris I.
in French :
"La musique, architecture du temps"
Collection : "Arts et Sciences de lArt"
Music, the Architecture of Time"
Collection : "Arts and Sciences of the Art")
Editions l'Harmattan, Paris, 2003
concern with "time" seems to be at the root of numerous
remarks made about the works of Jean-Claude Eloy. We might quote
here Olivier Messiaens famous comments from years ago in a
book of interviews made with the French critic, Claude Samuel (pg.
At this point in time, we come upon these great spaces of lengthy
durations which go not only beyond the bounds of classical measures,
but even beyond Greek metrics, Indian deçî-tàlas
and irrational values. We are witnessing a change in the notion
of time and I believe that one of the musicians for whom this change
is the most apparent is Jean-Claude Eloy. Apart from the refinement
in tone-colors and the quality of "heterophony", I discern
a conception of time in Jean-Claude Eloys music which is completely
at the avant-garde cutting edge ..."
in French :
"Musique et couleur"
Nouveaux entretiens avec Claude Samuel
New conversations with Claude Samuel)
Editions Pierre Belfond, Paris, 1986.
a remarkable book written about Karlheinz Stockhausen by the French
writer and poet, Paul Dirmeikis, published under the title of "Le
Souffle du Temps : quodlibet pour Karlheinz Stockhausen", this
quotation by Messiaen is once again cited (pg. 224), along with
other elements offered by Jean-Claude Eloy for this book which combines
various interviews and contributions of : Annette Meriweether, Michèle
Noiret, Kathinka Pasveer, Suzanne Stephens, Irvine Arditti, Nicholas
Isherwood, Alain Louafi, Julian Pike, Markus Stockhausen, Jean-Claude
Eloy, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
in French :
"Le souffle du temps : quodlibet pour Karlheinz Stockhausen"
Breath of Time: quodlibet for Karlheinz Stockhausen")
Editions Telo Martius, France, 1999.