Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre
at120x2 Bruno Duplant - Chamber and Field Works 2015 - 2017
Taku Sugimoto / Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble
1 all that I learned and then forgot (2015) 18:36
2 where our dreams get lost (2017) 18:20 youtube extract
3 a place of possibilities (2017) 16:17
Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble
1 lEttEr to tAku (2017) 44:15 youtube extract
Taku Sugimoto (guitar)
one lEttEr to tAku (field music for guitar) (2017) 44:25
Taku Sugimoto (Guitar, small amplifier, bow, park)
Interview with Bruno Duplant
How did your collaboration with Taku Sugimoto and the Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble come about?
After writing guitar pieces for Cristian Alveár (« premières et dernières pensées avant de s’endormir », published on Rhizome.s), and Denis Sorokin (« places & fields », published on B-Boim), I wanted to write a new score for solo guitar. For more than twenty years Taku Sugimoto has been one of the most exciting guitarists around, as important as Derek Bailey was. I decided to contact him and propose writing a score for him. But then I thought, why not do both things at the same time? So I decided to write him a letter, and the letter itself would be the score. Taku found the idea both funny and interesting, and he decided to record the piece. At the same time he asked me if I had any scores that could be played by an ensemble that he played with, the Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble. I was very pleased with the idea, and had three scores ready which were suitable to be played by them. So the sequence of events moved fast, but flowed totally naturally; everything felt so evident.
Tell us a bit more about the solo guitar piece, ‘lEttEr to tAku’. How does the score work, and whose idea was it that it should be performed outdoors?
The score was written first as a surprise, but also as something genuinely hybrid, where composition and chance would combine in an indeterminate setting (the outdoor sounds). I wanted to make something that was specifically for Taku and his particular way of playing guitar. So a lot of silence, something truly suspended and with a real fragility, but I also wanted to include sounds from real life, and the park in Tokyo was prefect. I also wanted there to be a gap between the guitar and the sounds from everyday life. So field recordings are 50% of the piece (or even more) and Taku played a lot with them while respecting the score. For me this piece was a question of fragility, poetry and equilibrium, and Taku was surely the best person to perform it. I am so happy with the result, and I know that Taku also likes it a lot. It was a question of correspondence and connection (in French there is one only word for both, “correspondence”). Music has to be pleasure above all.
You’ve quite often used field recordings in your music, and have performed pieces by yourself and others in outdoor locations. What is it that attracts you to the sounds of the outside world?
I think my deep interest in the sounds of the outside world is both natural and cultural. But to answer I’d like to quote John Cage : “One day when the windows were open, Christian Wolff played one of his pieces at the piano. Sounds of traffic, boat horns, were heard not only during the silences in the music, but, being louder, were more easily heard than the piano sounds themselves. Afterward, someone asked Christian Wolff to play the piece again with the windows closed. Christian Wolff said he'd be glad to, but that it wasn't really necessary, since the sounds of the environment were in no sense an interruption of those of the music.”
The Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble also play your pieces beautifully. Had you come across them before, and how closely have you followed recent trends within experimental music in Japan?
Firstly thanks for the compliment, which is the best kind of recognition for the ensemble’s beautiful work. As I said, the idea came from Taku, who asked if I had any scores suitable for an ensemble. I already knew the Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble from a beautiful recording on Ftarri (playing Frey, Pisaro & Beuger), so it was obviously a real opportunity for me and an honour to have them play my music. I had three scores ready (just), so I sent them to Taku and Wakana Ikeda, who were keen both to play them live and also record them. All that remained was to find a date and a place for the recording, and that was quite easy thanks to Yoshiyuki Suzuki at Ftarri. Correspondence with Wakana was perfect and a true pleasure.
I’ve followed experimental music in Japan for many years. Without trying to caricature, I am very interested in and sensitive to this poetic, minimalist, even pointillist approach to music. Silence and a certain fragility, and at the same time a great rigour in interpretation. I already found this in my previous collaborations with two other fantastic musicians, Ryoko Akama and Ko Ishikawa. Things that are flowing so well should not be stopped.
One of the instructions in the score for ‘where our dreams get lost’ is “like instrumental waves / with some melancholic tones”. That, together with the passion for ‘fragility’ that you picked out above, seems to characterise the mood of a lot of your music. Why do you think you are particularly drawn to those moods?
I think I have always been strongly drawn to those moods. ‘Melancholia’ is a state of mind and could almost also be considered a certain philosophy or way of life. Music, in my opinion, must reflect one’s own deep self, one’s vision of beauty; it then becomes catharsis, purification and purgation of emotions. ‘Fragility’ is one of the manifestations of melancholia, like waves are its physical ones (cf. Virginia Woolf). I think I am not the only person to whom this applies, but I am glad that such things are evident when you listen to my music.
How would you describe the music you are writing now, and how has it changed from what you were doing before?
For me at first graphic scores were the best and simplest solution for writing music which was to be played by other musicians. So I used graphic scores for my first two compositions: “9 times 5” (Ilse Records, 2012) and ‘One for Five’ (Point Engraved Editions, 2012). Then I wrote some text scores such as « espèces d’espaces » (Suppedaneum, 2014), « a field, next to nothing » (Another Timbre, 2014) and « immobilité » (Notice Recordings, 2015). After that I tried using the letters from the texts as notes, as in ‘lEttEr to tAku’, but also on most of my CD « places & fields », which was published on Radu Malfatti’s B-boim label. So changes have occurred, but it’s been a gradual process. However one thing that hasn’t changed is chance. All my scores are made using chance, to let the musicians be part of the process. Recently I have written some new scores which have been played by great musicians such as Dante Boon, Reinier van Houdt, and others. Some of these will be played and recorded early this year, such as a string quartet (with Morgan Evans-Weiler). But I prefer music critics to speak about my music.
Drawing of Bruno Duplant by Amélie Vidgrain Duplant
The album’s cover image is a photograph of two sculptures from the series ‘Figures’ by the French artist Anne Breton
You can read more about the ‘Figures’ project and see other examples of her work here
Photos by Bruno Duplant