Last changed: 2009/02/07 18:49 


Jérôme Joy

Note :
Notes de lecture

Notes de lecture

Guillaume Apollinaire, Le Roi-Lune, ....

* The multitude of voices, earthly or heavenly, living or posthumous, can now be conceived as being either disseminated or aggregated, all the while conjoined in a previously unimaginable symphony or cacophony. To cite just one example of this formal agglomeration of voices at the core of a classic modernist work, consider Guillaume Apollinaire's 1916 tale "Le Roi-Lune" (The Moon-King) from his anthology le poète assassiné (The Assassinated Poet). The narrator, who loses his path in a storm, takes refuge in a cave, where, in its depths, he discovers the underground domain of the still-living mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria. In these caverns, decorated with ancient graffiti evoking an "anachronistic orgy" that incited a "voluptuousness in the arms of death", the narrator finds Ludwig seated at the keyboard of a pipe-organ that turns out to be of universal proportions. For, with the aid of sensitive microphones placed at strategic positions around the world, the musician can play a symphony composed of a sort of musique concrète: Japan at dawn, geysers in a New Zealand morning, a market in Tahiti, voices in China, a train on the American plains, streets of Chicago at noon, boats on the Hudson River in New-York, violent prayers in Mexico City, a carnivalesque cavalcade in Rio de Janeiro, evening songs in Martinique, a cafe in Paris, the sounds of the angelus in Münster and Bonn, a boat on the Rhine arriving in Coblenz, nightime in Naples, a bivouac in Tripolitania, voices in Isfahan, midnight in an Asian desert, the sound of elephants at one o'clock in the morning in India, sacerdotal bells in Tibet, barques on the river in Saigon, gongs and drums in Peking, the sound of a rooster announcing dawn in Korea. "The king's finger ran across the keyboard at random, causing to resound, simultaneously as it were, all the noises of this world around which we had just made an immobile, auricular voyage". After this recital, in a somewhat anachronistic bow of the composer's modernism, the King demands the score of Wagner's Rheingold ! The sonorous world is randomly sampled and paratactically recombined, and we can well imagine the sounds of this world set to an infinite Wagnerian backbeat in a masterpiece of rap abstraction.

reference: Allen S. Weiss, Breathless - Sound recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia, Wesleyan University Press, 2002