Author: Rubin, Anna, I.
Title: Forêt Profonde: The Narrative, Sonic and Reception Design of Francis Dhomont's Forêt Profonde
Institution: Princeton University
Begun: January 1998
Completed: January 1999
Master acousmatic composer Francis Dhomont has created an epic electro-acoustic work, Forêt Profonde, of nearly sixty minutes length, combining text, ambient sound of various sorts, sampled quotations from Schumann's Kinderszenen and composed electro-acoustic music. The piece embodies a dialectical balance between a number of polarities - speech vs. music, gesture vs. texture (D. Smalley), linear vs. multiply-directed time (J. Kramer) as well as male/female representations. In addition, the composer maintains a play of polarities with regard to contrapuntal structures, spectral content (R. Cogan), and 'instrumentation.' L. Meyer's notions of implication/deflection, although geared toward tonal music, are seen to effectively operate in Dhomont's more complex noise/atonal/tonally-inflected musical language in forms built up by the accretion of fragment.
The author analyses the various narrative elements (including fairy tale fragments, commentary, reportage, etc.) through the personae of the pieces' 'characters', employing concepts from theatre, film music, and gender studies. In the discussion of sonic design, each of the thirteen sections of the work is closely analysed with regards to the polarities cited above. Formal sectionalizing of the piece is rendered ambiguous by a complex 'quilt' of associated elements and repetitions.
In exploring the listening strategy required by the work, the author draws on concepts of reception from the visual arts (M. Smith) as well as electro-acoustic music (K. Norman, D. Smalley, B. Truax). W. Benjamin's notion of 'aura' as applied to the unique art object is extended to the reproduced object as well as to the complex nature of listening. In Forêt Profonde, Dhomont achieves the musical representation of the unconscious, explores the nature of humankind, and a unified melding of disparate elements into an aesthetic whole.
Keywords: Electro-acoustic music, acousmatic music, French-Canadian music
Anna Rubin, Department of Composition
Conservatory of Music
Oberlin, OH 44074-1588