(2014) for tenor voice, dictaphones and piano – 3 Minutes
Commissioned by: CID | Fraen an gender
Written for: Vincent Lièvre-Picard (tenor) and Emmanuel Olivier (piano)
Published by: Noutefabrik
Category: Works for 2-6 Players, Vocal, Staged
Year Composed: 2014
Duration: 3 Minutes
Orchestration: tenor voice, three dictaphone and piano
Notes on score: Last verse: no singing but actions. For more details please refer to the documentary made of the piece viewable here .
– 21st November 2014 Salle Robert Krieps, Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxembourg
Vincent Lièvre-Picard (tenor) and Emmanuel Olivier (piano)
In Pantomine, I have set Verlaine’s text so that, what starts off as a melodic tune reminiscent of Lou Koster’s time, gradually emerges within a more contemporary sound-world. Verlaine’s text is in fact heard four times. The performance of the first rendition of the text (recorded by the first dictaphone) is subsequently revisited and layered by performing to the playback while a second dictaphone records this playback and the second round of text and music. With each Playback, the recorded sound becomes more distorted, the hiss of the analogue equipment gets louder and eventually, the original melody appears like a distant memory. Also, with each repetition, the singer and the pianist introduce new contemporary playing techniques and sound elements. Even the text gets more and more cut-up until, for the fourth and last repetition, the singer stays completely tacit, miming the words instead. Pantomime is thus a work with a visual dimension, a staged song. It will be the singer who operates the dictaphones in between each repetition while the pianist has some transitional
material to play. As soon as the pianist hears the start of the recording, he goes back to the beginning of the piece and starts to play along. The muted E’s at the start should be enough to give a sense of the tempo. The performing and the playback volumes should be at a level where the sound of the two can merge nicely. It will be normal for the dictaphone sound to have some distortion and sound harsher than the original performance. It is meant to sound like it comes from an old gramophone record or similar.
There is an option for the singer to put on some clothing accessories in the time between the verses so as for the
fourth verse he looks more like a mime than an classical singer. This should by no means involve a full fledged Pierrot
outfit but some accessories, maybe even just gloves, would work. There is however already quite a lot to manage in the
time in between the repetitions with rewinding one tape and putting it to play as well as putting another dictaphone to
record so it might be too much to also use these clothing accessories. the cloth should be folded and hidden inside the piano until it is needed. This is the prop that should make all the miming actions quite simple to execute.
The gestures of the miming should be simple in style but also not too subtle. The movements should be large and, in a sense, caricatured. The singer should also perform the different scenes in various places on the stage, one of the on the grand piano if this is possible. The piano can be closed just before this and opened again for the last verse. The piece should be performed with joy and panache.