Saturday, February 6, 2010

Eliane Radigue (1932)

Eliane Radigue (Paris, January 24th, 1932)

Eliane Radigue starts her work as a composer in the Fifties. In 1955 she meets Pierre Schaeffer, director at Radio France d'Outre-Mer and of the musique concrète laboratory at RTF (Radio Télévision Française), she becomes his pupil. The following year Schaeffer deems Eliane independent enough to work alone at the RTF's labs: he writes a letter to the agency department in Nice that refuses the access to the student.
Between 1958 and 1967 Eliane takes a break from electronic music: she spends more time with her husband, the artist Arman, and their three kids. After divorcing from her partner, Eliane gets back on track and attains an assistant position for Pierre Henry at Studio Apsome where she creates some sounds for her works. In this period Eliane uses a feedback composing technique and tape recorders. In 1969 Radigue publishes her first work, a double 45 rpm record, limited to 250 copies, republished in 2000.
During the Seventies she moves to the States, finding a lot to share with New York's minimalist scene. The american musical environment is not the only reason pushing Eliane overseas: in America the availability of synthesizers, Moog, Buchla, modular systems is far higher, all these are machines that allow the production of sound with a level of control impossible with the old recorders. In 1970 she is invited to New York University in order to share Morton Subotnick's studio with Laurie Spiegel. She remains there until June 1971 realizing a few pieces with a Buchla. In New York she literally falls in love with ARP 500, the instrument that she will use continuously until 2000.

"I work within the sound; with the ARP I program a base and with the power meters I engender minimal variations. These slow variations are one of the elements that force the sound to evolve and do not allow it to be identical to itself. This is what I was and I am interested in, but I can't do it with digital machines. The ARP is an instrument with extremely good sound quality, relatively easy to use and flexible in terms of manipulation and, lastly, very precise. I could not play with preset sounds. I like to play in grey zones, where the ear gets lost and this erraticism gives rise to a space of liberty. And paradoxically the end product is not improvisation! It is not possible to improvise."

In 1973 she teaches electronic music at the University of Iowa and California Institute of the Arts. In 1974 Terry Riley calls her to Mills College where she has the opportunity to work with Pauline Oliveiros and Maggie Payne. After playing "Adnos" at Mills College, some students define her music as "meditative". Eliane starts to approach Tibetan Buddhism. She spends the next three years with Guru Kalu Rimpoche, involved exclusively into meditation. She gets back to electronic music in 1979 with "Adnos II" followed by "Adnos III" in 1980. Between 1980 and 1990 she composes "Trilogie de la Mort", a three hours piece inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In 200 the French Governments grants her a "Bourse à la Création" thank to which Eliane composes "Songs of Milarepa" and "Jetsun Mila", dedicated to the tibetan saint and poet that lived in the XI century. During the same year she records her last electronic piece, "Ile Re-sonante", awarded at Linz Ars Electronica in 2006. In 2001 she starts to write music for acoustic instrument and teams up with The Lappatites, a computer improvising group.

A Portrait of Eliane Radigue (2009) from Maxime Guitton on Vimeo.

"I Believe that even sounds have their personality and this provides the awareness of the time that they need. There are sounds that need more time to tell their story. Others are more chirpy, rapid. I try to respect every sound's time…" Eliane Radigue

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