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6 radiophonic fictions for 7 performers & tape/ 10 min / 2019 / commission of radio radio broadcast 'Création Mondiale' - France musiques

How can we recreate a sonic memory? How can we update the perceptive context in which this episode took place ? By what means can we highlight the political connotations of an apparently banal sonic event ?
« Souvenirs, Fictions » takes the reconstruction of sonic memories as a starting point, to create a series of 6 short radiophonic fictions which systematically consist in a superposition of a manipulated field recording and a studio recording of a group of musicians. All of them deal with failure, banality, accidents - exploring boundaries between perception and culture.
Specific topics are explored. hymns, nationalism, imagined communities, the Society of Spectacle, gender and music, biopolitics, otherness, ethnocentrism, metanarratives of power, concept of “Grandeur”.
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sonic theatre/ 1h / 2019 /

How does an audience deliberately less itself be driven by a leading caracter, let it be political, religious or artistic? Is it voice, non verbal langauge, emotion emanating from the leader that bring about mob's ecstasy? To what extent spectateurs accept to dive into this ritual? These are some of the questions sought to be answered by a sonic theater conceived by Alvaro Martinez Lein for a singer her audience and an immersive sound system


for orchestra and audience / 25' / 2016 /

The symphonic orchestra is probably the artistic objet that bears the densest symbolic implications in the history of classical music. This instrumental ensemble materialized approximately at the same moment as “absolute music” was developing into mature stage, and seeking its independence away from religious sphere to become a mythological instrument for European empires and nations of the 19th century. The “great masters” of classicism, romanticism and contemporary period will create a cast of divinities bearing narratives of glory and omnipotence, which is still today a highly influential mythology.

This clockwork mechanism is capable of creating the Invisible-Made-Visible week after week, year after year in venues all around the occidental world and in other regions where institutions gradually associate to this narrative. There is something that the symphonic performance directly communicates, besides any cultural distinction: the capacity to gather a crowd of people to create an unusual event. “La Rutina de lo Invisible” pays tribute this community of craftsmen and women that constantly update the tradition of sacred genies in art music.

Première July 27 th 2016 at Palacio de la Ópera (La Coruña, Spain) by JONDE (Spanish Youth Orchestra) conducted by Hermes Helfricht. /


inmersive musical theater for 10 instruments / 22' / 2016 /

From German Empire, to Nazi regime, Richard Strauss went through 19th and 20th centuries overcoming every political disruption by a constant negotiation with power institutions. Midway between written music, documentary performance and interaction with public, The Last Hero proposes an interpretation of the life and work of Richard Strauss, while questoning the figure of the conductor in european art music, as well as the role of germanic tradition in this field.

Première November 17 th 2016 at Nymphenburg Palace (Munich, Germany) by BlauerReiter ensemble conducted by Armando Merino. /


vocal work for 12 moving men / 28' / 2015 /

Crowd psychology has developed a number of theories to explain how individuals are dragged by mob behaviour processes. The loss of responsibility of the individual influenced by the crowd can be explained by a hypnosis state provoked by multi sensorial factors. This work takes sound and body spatial movement as the raw material for staging several group communication contexts, in an ethological approach where human and animal communication emerge simultaneously.
12 men situated in an open space mingled with spectators, the latter being proposed to move around the space in order to create their own sonor and visual "Travelling". A cast exclusively composed by men is necessary to create group images where power is concentrated in male communities. The work explores notions of religious, national and folkloric identity, as well as economic, sexual and micro-community contexts, the whole approached as instincts of homo sapiens.
This work deals with local culture and universal instincts. Thus, the composer needs to consult previously to rehearsals with a local correspondent that should be able to provide notions of popular culture and translate to the local language some of the dialogues used in the work, as well as proposing folkloric songs that will be sung by the group of men. The film shown above is the French version.
Première December 12th at FORMA festival, Angers (France). In collaboration with vocal trio ‘’Garçon s’il vous plaît’ and 10 amateur participants. /

ID. 2

sketch-performance / 3' / 2016 /

Id. 2 is a part of a triptych of performances in progress dealing with several facets of cultural identity, focusing on music and human voice to explore collective unconscious. This second sequence of the series takes the political speech heard in the public space as a starting point in order to question the way in which accent (from the countryside, the city or foreigner) can influence the perception of a spoken message.

First performed april 23th 2016 at the circus tente of Rochefort sur Loire (France) par Alvaro Martinez Leon. /

ID. 1

participative performance, amplified stethoscope and echograph Doppler / undetermined duration / 2015 /

Midway between a group therapy and a holiday centre activity, this participative performance explores autobiographic memories of people taking part in the experience. An amplified echo-graph Doppler is used to listen the blood flow of the person who will announce a personal memory. Her/his voice is captured by an amplified stethoscope, thus giving an inside-body sound image of this personal memory. In order to stage the relationship between individual and collective, the rest of participants will encourage the person in exposure at first, and then will create an embarrassed silence at the end of the confession.
First performance by Alvaro Martinez Leon and a group of participants, August 2015 at Luma Luma (La Cornouaille, France). /


for mezzo-soprano et baritone/ 11’ / 2013 /

How far are we humans in evolution from the rest of the animal kingdom? Culture, as we perceive and create it, isn't just a the consequence of cognitive processes related to the accomplishment of our basic needs?
From sounds produced by insects to European opera, courtship rituals are quoted in this work in an evolutionary progression to question the way in which grand narratives are carried by occidental art music, drawing particular attention to opera’s greatest hits continually performed nowadays all around the world.
Inuit throat singing appears in the work as a key transition between human and animal communication, as it is mainly constructed by imitating animal sounds. But also as a homage to an outstanding vocal tradition revealing the animal in human artistic expression.
First performance by Mélanie Panaget and Lilian Duault, April 2015 at Théatre des Dames (Ponts-de-Cé, France). Dedicated to Mélanie Panaget et Lilian Duault./


ensemble, video/ 11’ / 2014 /

Three style exercises for TV advert 'Le Lion de Perrier'.
1. Supens: orchestral dramaturgy
2. Exotisme: Africa seen from an European living room
3. Des corps: desire and relief.
Première by ensemble Rhizome December 2014 at Champs Libres (Rennes, France). /


video, vocals/ 2’36'' / 2014 /

Sharing its title with Deleuze's renown essay, this video is constructed from fragments of 4 chants belonging to different cultural groups. A re-composition of the chants has been made by putting together the pitches which they have in common.

The repetition of a same pitch aims to de-contextualise it, in a naive research of universality by the author. Difference arises when each pitch is heard in its proper context of timbre, tuning expression and phonetics.

Difference (cultural specificity in this case) is directly related to authenticity, which Martinez is absolutely deficient to achieve in each of the interpretations of the 4 musical fragments. Nor blues, flamenco, classical occidental or popular Arab music belong to his deep cultural roots, thus the video reveals the pluralistic background of a culture-consumerist person, a post modern victim of globalisation./


for three performers, video, metronome, diapason, music boxes and live electronics/ 12’ / 2015 /

Anthems are an important part of the devices destined to build imaginary communities in national, religious or ideological contexts. Doppler effect describes the time phase différence between the emission and reception of a moving sound, and is used here to create a diachronic image of between the creation of a message and its reinterpretation, even the perversion of the latter. The socialist anthem is performed gradually out of phase by cultural and temporal means, inspired by the process by which the distortion of an ideal can lead to barbarism. Première by Maxime Arnaud, Sebastien Herrgott and Alvaro Martinez Leon. Video by Anissa Allam-Vaquez, live electronics by Sylvain Harrand. First performance April 2015 in townhall of Savennières (France)./


This work deals with national identity experienced by human beings, going from the noble feelings a national anthem can create in a people, to the free interpretation it can be subjected to by individuals belonging to a nation.
Bodily emotion linked to nationalism and singing is also at the core of the work, where several vocal techniques are used in order to bring out sounds which are close to animal expression or that suggest the passage of voice through mucus before language emergence.
Performed by the artist himself, the whole aims to show a palette of sincere expressions motivated by mixed patriotic feelings, and an unbearable nostalgia for a country being slowly destroyed by neoliberalism.
First performance by Alvaro Martinez Leon in La Poste (Savennières, France). /


for flute, clarinet, guitar, viola and violoncello / 10’ / 2009. Recording: first performance by ensemble Cairn in Aulnay sous Bois conservatory. Dedicated to Cairn ensemble
In classical Arabic, these three letters form the root of several words bearing the concept of link. Thus, Egyptian art music of the nineteenth century gave birth to the vocal and instrumental form called “wasla”, a series of movements that are linked by the same musical mode. The wasla was the basis for the musical background of Um Kultûm and Abd-el Wahab, creators themselves between the 30s and 60s of the music that can be heard today throughout the Arab world and which remains one of the strongest cultural referents in this region. Quotes from these two musicians appear in this work, imbued with the atmosphere of the wasla. Thus, the piece is a succession of reconstructions and deconstructions of these quotes. These processes are transitions from noise to sound (construction) or from sound to noise (deconstruction), and each uses different means (accumulation, accelerando, crescendo, etc.).
The discursive principle of the work is defined by a different derivation from the same root: “wisal”, the union of souls and bodies. The theme of this music is characterised by the sting of love, the suffering created by unrequited love. The Wisal, whether satisfied or frustrated, is explicitly implied in the lyrics, in the way of singing, and by any kind of expressive means. I have tried to create a sound picture of this underlying palpitation as if we’d listen to the body of a singer with a stethoscope, and therefore perceiving the activity of his organs at the moment of dramatic emotion. /


for 6 spoken voices / 10’ / 2008. First performance Vocaal LAB, opera of Madrid. Recording by Vocaal LAB at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ Amsterdam, Netherlands in September 2010. Dedicated to Salim Benbraham and Philippe Leroux
Composed for six singers, this piece deals with phonetics of French and Algerian languages. It exploits only the spoken voice and contrasts the phonetic peculiarities of each idiom. It is the story of a conflict between two communities -the French and North African, represented by two groups of three singers in the piece- that inspired the writing of this work. This underlying tension that often exists between the two groups, is the energy that keeps the narrative core of this dialogue. The piece is titled « Le voisin d’en face » ("the neighbor across the street"), since it arises from the image of the great cosmopolitan cities where one lives next to people whose language doesn’t understand. The phonetics of the mother tongues of these "neighbors" is the first thing we can distinguish and that we are able to imitate. Thus, it becomes a metaphor for the confrontation between cultural specificity (meaning of words) and universality (words as phonetic objects). Halfway between “pure music” and theater, Le Voisin d’en Face  explores the possibilities of non-traditional spoken voice. The result of this work sometimes leads to an expression built on almost scatological elements. This does not attempt to disturb the listener, but to refer to the biological condition of voice and language /


bass clarinet, percussion and tape / 14’ / 2009. Commissioned by Duometrie. First performance: Axes Jazzpower, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Studio recording by Duometrie. Dedicated to Duometrie
“Life is Art and Art is Life”. This statement made by the avant-garde group Fluxus defines the way in which this work approaches West Africa’s musical universe. Rhythm in music could have been born, among other daily activities, from collective work. Polyrhythm is produced when digging the ground, casting metal or grinding cereal and these simultaneous patterns could have been the first generators of rhythmic awareness in mankind. This regular cadence that arises from physical work is the framework of the piece. Thus, it is organised entirely in a single pulse and uses sounds coming from working tools. The origin of pitches is a question that has several possible answers. The one I found most appealing was that man imitated sounds produced by nature and these imitations eventually became melodies. Inspired by this idea, the work is structured as a narrative dialogue between two ways of perceiving nature: physical self-awareness of the body and environmental perception through hearing. All along the work, the musicians and the tape represent these two kinds of perception with sounds that resemble, for example, the sound of breathing or a bird’s song.
The title of the piece refers to how music built on rhythmic ostinatos succeeds in modifying appreciation of time. This music is present in all kind of social rituals (going from entertainment to mystical trance) that share the function of taking consciousness out of time. Furthermore, to performers of this kind of music, to play out of time means to “ride” over an ostinato by playing in a parallel beat. Fuera de(l) Tiempo explores this different levels of temporality, by means of obsessive patterns as well as non-manipulated soundscapes. At the same time, the piece can be listened as a trip between two space-time dimensions of West African music: the rural environment (related to past) and urban habitat (associated with present).
From the point of view of timbre, the work deals with “dirty” or “ignoble” sounds produced by recycled materials as those employed to build some handcrafted musical instruments in Africa. The tape follows this very same aesthetic orientation by using sounds that are “imprecise” or “out of focus”. As a result, the sound material of the piece invites the listener to discover the power and beauty of the impure /


flute / 9’ / 2009. First performance: Cédric Jullion, Aulnay sous Bois conservatory, France. Dedicated to Cédric Jullion. Studio recording by Cédric Jullion
This work is inspired by the birth of musical sound in humans. Breathing, singing, natural harmonic series and representations of spoken language are the main elements of the composition. The song quoted is built on a mode containing non-temperate pitches, which approximates it to the natural harmonic series, an analogy to create a metaphor for the gestation of the melody in the universal history of music.
Meanwhile, the discourse focuses on the biological condition of human beings, placing on the same level natural harmonics, language, music and breathing. All these elements appear as layers that run an organic machine (the body) during a music performance. The non-hierarchical organization of writing is partly a consequence of the song that appears in the work. Having its origin in the tradition of Nan Kuan of southern China, the lyrics are long epic tales that can last up to overnight. The result is a static music in which we cannot find the beginning nor the end and that is continuously enriched with ornaments. Thus, this circularity guides the temporal development of this piece.
The title " On Earth as in Heaven " is an ironic reference to the alternation between sounds that are close to our biological condition, earthy (breathing, voice) and those distanced form it (pure sounds of flute, high pitched harmonics). The latter, by its traditional connotation of purity and transcendence, belong to the kingdom of heaven where they remain subject to the harmony of the spheres... /

LES SENTIMENTS D’UNE PORTE [ homage to Pierre Henry ]

tape / 12’ / 2009. First performance at CRD Blanc-Mesnil, France
Three works by Pierre Henry produced between 1961 and 1963 inspired the writing of this tribute to the composer pioneer of “musique concrete”: La Noire à soixante, Le Voyage, and Variations pour une porte et un soupir. Each piece is focused on a key element of Henry’s language, who has greatly influenced many generations of musicians from very different backgrounds. We can find among others, the gesture "impact-resonance", the loop as a narrative core and the research in the sounds of everyday life.
Here is a tribute to those elements of language of Pierre Henry, especially to sound research in our everyday environment. I also wanted to take a humorous look at these doors that we often cross without realizing the richness of sound that they can bring, sometimes with a spectacular expressiveness (the title means “the feelings of a door”). Our daily environment can bring us derision, just like “erudite” music, too often supposed to communicate exclusively sublime ideas /


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