Le mensonge et l’identité (2008, 10)

Jean Derome, Joane Hétu

string quartet, and stereo fixed medium

Commission: Quatuor Bozzini, with support from the CCA and CALQ


  • 1. 1er mouvement
    • 1. Le relais
    • 2. Demi-vérité A
    • 3. Demi-vérité B
    • 4. La nouvelle — Joane
    • 5. Identité 1
    • 6. ADN-Spirales
    • 7. Identité 2
    • 8. La nouvelle — Jean 1
    • 9. Demi-vérité C et D
    • 10. Appartenir I
    • 11. La nouvelle — Jean 2
    • 12. Appartenir II
    • 13. Demi-vérité F
    • 14. Appartenir III
    • 15. Demi-vérité E
    • 16. Le mensonge
    • 17. 4 solos violents
    • 18. ADN-Montée
    • 19. Demi-Vérité V
  • 2. 2e mouvement
    • 1. Pulsations
    • 2. 38 pièces
    • 3. Shiatsu
    • 4. Mélopées d’ADN
  • 3. 3e mouvement
    • 1. 16 lutrins
    • 2. ADN-Folklore

Listen Up

Program Notes

Work for string quartet, whose members speak, move about, improvise, and accompany themselves with a prerecorded tape.

The theme of Forum Neuer Musik 2008 took a strong political bent, defying the avant-garde to bring forth new ideas and means of understanding the problems we face today. A daunting challenge for artists, as our world is rife with war, terrorism, imperialism, ethnic conflicts, etc.

We live in a fractured, repressive, and violent society that worships individualism, leaving everyone defending only their own interests. Despite being surrounded by multitudes, we live in great solitude, our community institutions (religious, social, and family groups) have crumbled, leaving us with nothing to identify ourselves to, with no spiritual home base.

Music, however, is created from spiritual and physical energy in the context of a community. In playing music, we can find ways to live together, think and share together that comes to us as if from our prehistoric brain. These ways of being constitute one of humanity’s last bastions of resistance. Where there is living music, there can be a viable society. It is as though we vibrate together.

We have used the string quartet as a microcosm of society.

A group like a quartet is made possible only by supporting wholeheartedly the idea of community. A good quartet thinks, acts, and plays as one single person. Nonetheless, even as the instruments and their players are required to sublimate their individuality and blend with one another, every musical ensemble is different. In the case of Bozzini Quartet there are three women, one man, a married couple, two sisters, different ethnic/national origins, etc.

The mirror concept quickly became an important thematic element of the piece. We chose to talk about lies and identity. The musicians play and speak both live and on the pre-recorded tape, to the point that the listener can barely differentiate between the real and the recorded.

The piece is in 3 sections, and gradually unravels the structure of the quartet, as well as the traditional proceedings of its concerts.

In the first section we see the quartet as we know it classically. The music is often homorhythmic, and the quartet forms a block while the tape intervenes often.

In the second section, the musicians start to move away from their original positions on stage. The performance space becomes fragmented, the players take different tempi. Over time, a certain alignment emerges, requiring an almost telepathic empathy between the musicians. Here the tape is only found in the transitions.

The third section sees the performance space open up completely. Now the musicians are independent soloists, playing different pieces simultaneously, with the tape coming in only at the finale. The score is no longer a foregone, ritual recitation, but rather a process open to the possibility of creating a situation of both freedom and responsibility on behalf of each individual.

As tandem composers, we also have had to vibrate together in writing this piece. This relatively rare type of collaboration presented us with certain challenges: retaining coherence in the work; balancing cohabitation responsibilities; and reconciling individual freedom with the interests of the common good. Liberty requires a community of individuals in order to exist. Individual liberty is meaningless in a fragmented society, yet no social fabric can hold together if its constituents are not themselves free.

The tape consists of musical and spoken excerpts of the Bozzini Quartet. It was recorded at Studio 270 by Robert Langlois, and mixed by Joane Hétu and Robert Langlois. Editing and production of the pre-recorded tape by Joane Hétu.

Translation: Reuven Rothman