Le poumon oxygène

for female voice and live electronics (2000)

Duration: 06'00"

First performance: Berlin, 18.10.2000

GEMA-No.: 5562601

The phonetic material of this piece is derived from Raymond Queneaus "Petite cosmogonie portative" (1950, "A Small Portable Cosmogony"), a brilliant stylistic montage of hymn, everyday language and scientific description, and a revitalization of the ancient genre of cosmogony. The short passage about the gases has extraordinary onomatopoeic qualities: "Les nuages se gonflaient chacun à sa façon"… just speaking these words aloud one can hear a music made of sibilants, which in this composition takes a life of its own, enhanced by means of live electronic transformations. Subtle sonic variations and permutations are also already present in the text ("le chlore coloré colérait l’hydrogène").

Queneau dedicates only two lines of his cosmogony to the history of mankind, reducing the homo sapiens thus to a marginal phenomenon of evolution. At the same time the human perspective is pervading every moment, the passage about the gases, for instance, ends with a reference to the "lung oxygen":

Les nuages se gonflaient chacun à sa façon
l’un était plein d’azote et l’autre de solon
un troisième intrépide avait choisi l’argon
de petits cumuli s’éclairaient au néon
de modestes kryptons voyaient trentt six chandelles
et le xénon n’avait que peu d’identité
le chlore coloré colérait l’hydrogène
tandis que le fluor en esprit virulent
attendait feux et flamme et de faire des spaths
et le mi-tout c’était le poumon oxygène