Année de composition
19 minutes
Instrumental ensemble [8-9 musicians] and Soundtrack : flute (also piccolo), clarinet (Bb and bass), 1 or 2 percussionist(s), piano, violin, viola, viola, cello, double bass and sounds fixed on a support

A long and fascinating collaboration with Pascal Gallois has led me to write a large number of works for the bassoon (solo pieces, chamber music pieces). The research that Pascal Gallois has been carrying out for several years concerns the hitherto little-exploited possibilities of his instrument (multiphonic sounds, tremolos, etc…), but also timbre and color. With him, the bassoon sometimes approaches the human voice (and my piece Niggun, for solo bassoon, uses the instrument in this register, almost vocal). For several years, we have been talking about the idea of uniting the bassoon with a small choir. The Festival Musique en Chinonais and the Mikrokosmos Ensemble now offer us the opportunity to realize this project.


“The movement of History, as they say, has now accelerated to such a point that neither revolutions nor even successions of modes can be spotted in music. Not only, since all the limits have been transgressed (those of the tonality, the temperament, the noise, the work etc.), the musical history does not follow any line any more, but even the Brownian movement of the tendencies, the modes, the traditions, escapes any perception. The whirlwind therefore comes to a standstill by dint of speed. The “naturalist” enterprise to which Naluan belongs thus proposes the deciphering of sound reality as a liberating and inexhaustible task, after the true “degree zero” marked by this sort of end of musical history that occurred between 1960 and 1970.

Although the listening of the real is itself a historical attitude, illustrated by Monteverdi, Beethoven, Debussy, Messiaen, the new fact that represents the availability of this real in the form of recording gives it a completely different scope. It is no longer a question of transposing musically the noises, it is a question of revealing the music already present, always-already there, as the philosophers say, in the world where we live. The composer is satisfied with discovering it, and his part of invention can be reduced to the technical means the most appropriate to underline this musical evidence. Later, the music latent in the “natural” sounds will be perceptible to everyone. Everyone will be a poet and a musician, and there will be no need for composers.

After having imitated different sound models for a long time by methods of transposition or transcription (for example spoken texts in the form of instrumental “phonemes” in Safous Mélè, 1959, La peau du silence, 1962, Le son d’une voix, 1964), I inaugurated an approach that was both complementary and opposed in 1969 with Rituel d’oubli, by mixing the model itself and its instrumental imitation.

Since 1971, with Korwar, Temes Nevinbür and Rambaramb, three works for instruments and a single magnetic tape treated as a sort of Cantus firmus, I have continued this practice comparable to that of the Oceanic peoples from whom the titles are borrowed (this is the name given to human skulls which, once coated with clay and painted, are both sculptures and natural objects).


In Naluan (a word from Malekula in the New Hebrides), I similarly make a faithful instrumental veneer that aims to confuse the conventional categories of the raw and the musical. The birds, insects and amphibians that I have recorded, transcribed and orchestrated are integrated into a whole without undergoing any other metamorphosis than that brought about by the recording; and I have done this in such a way as to situate them in a partially abstract space, and as far from traditional impressionism as from the symbolism of Messiaen.


In other works I can probably be satisfied with raw recordings, what I called phonographs in 1960, but here the presence of the instrumentalists has a double meaning: firstly, to affirm the profound identity of human and animal music, because music – that is to say, the meeting of thought and sound – seems to respond to a biological function common to man and several animal species; and secondly, to prolong with new means the primitive gesture that created man, when he determined his relationship to the world by underlining the outline of the rock in order to decipher his dream, and when he affixed his hand to fix this dream.


Naluan is a 19-minute work for tape and a chamber ensemble of eight players. It is dedicated to the Ensemble XXème siècle, which premiered it in Baden-Baden on February 28, 1974. ”


François-Bernard Mâche

Création mondiale
February 28th, 1974 | Sudwestfunk | Baden-Baden, Germany
Amphion – Durand

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