Éliane Radigue, drone music pioneer
December 5, 2017 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Éliane Radigue is a French composer who is one of the pioneers of drone music, and is still active at 85. She worked with Pierre Henry and other musique concrète pioneers in the 50s, but her experiments with feedback and tape loops in the 60s drifted too far from the scene, so she moved to New York in the 70s. She is perhaps best known for her synthesizer based compositions in the 70s through early 2000s. A representative piece is Trilogie De La Mort, one of several pieces inspired directly by her conversion to Tibetan Buddhism: I. Kyema, II. Kailasha, III. Koumé. Since 2004 she has composed entirely with acoustic instruments, e.g. Movement 3 of Naldjorlak I, written for cello; if you're in a hurry, here's a 1:30 live clip from Naldjorlak III.
"I love when changes happen without us realising — or rather, when we only realise afterward. In classical music my favourite part in a piece is the modulation. All of a sudden there is a wonderful uncertainty. We are no longer in the previous tonality and we’re not yet in the next one. Here comes newness — ah! But what is it? Where will we be taken next? When I was young I could go to almost any city in the world and know where I was walking without a map. Venice was the only place where I ever got lost, and that was an incredible feeling. [...] Mozart was the best at it! He could make modulations last for pages. He would hint at many different avenues of tonal possibility then explore them in the rest of the piece. I love that. I love the feeling of floating and uncertainty. I remember long ago talking to Philip Glass. He told me that he was very interested in appoggiaturas, and look! All his music ended up being made out of appoggiaturas. I was interested in modulations, and my music is made out of modulation. It is always in transition. (from)"
We're lucky enough that much of her work is currently available on youtube; here's a sampling:

Transamorem Transmortem (1974).

Adnos I-III (1974, 1980, 1982).

Triptych part 1 (1978).

Jetsun Mila (1987).

l'Ile Re-sonante (2000); her last electronic piece.

Occam Ocean (2015), live.

H/T: this post was triggered by this profile of Éliane Radigue in Lion's Roar magazine, which I found because James Holden retweeted it.
posted by advil (8 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Also, if you speak French, I found a bunch of recent interviews that seem interesting (but that I can't really follow in any detail): interview 2014 (French only), interview 2015 (French only).
posted by advil at 2:02 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this post, she's new to me!
posted by filthy light thief at 2:04 PM on December 5, 2017

[Also - missing December Best Post Contest tags: AwesomeWomen and nobit]
posted by filthy light thief at 2:06 PM on December 5, 2017

missing December Best Post Contest tags

Oh, thanks, I didn't even know about these!
posted by advil at 2:14 PM on December 5, 2017

Yay! She is one of my favorite experimental musicians, period. Thank you for this post.

I urge people to listen to her on the best sound system they have available, preferably in some open room rather than headphones. What her sounds do in a space is critical to engaging/enjoying her work, IME.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:22 PM on December 5, 2017

Oh wow, she is amazing. Thank you for this post! And a big middle finger to the dudes who kicked her out of the club for being better than them.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:23 PM on December 5, 2017

Occam Ocean has been missing from my life for the last 55 years.

Thanks, advil.
posted by flabdablet at 3:43 PM on December 5, 2017

Hell yes. I found out about her work fairly recently from a friend, Jetsun Mila / Robert Ashley being the entry point. Serious vibes.
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2017

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