LA FILLE RYTHMÉE - the artist and his model III


for percussion solo (for two antique cymbals, three triangles, three temple bowls and four gongs)

duration: ca. 6 minutes

Lineage: Robert Burns’ 18th-century poem “Lassie w’ the lint-white locks” inspired Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle’s 19th-century poem “La fille aux cheveux de lin”, which Claude Debussy set to music in an unpublished 1882 song. Debussy later borrowed the title of Leconte de Lisle’s poem (and the key of his early song) for his piano prélude “... La fille aux cheveux de lin”, published in 1910 as No. 8 from Book 1 of his Préludes. Alfred Cortot recorded the work in London on 2 July 1931, and in 1991 this recording was re-issued on compact disc as Biddulph LHW 006. The Artist and his Model I-VI are all based on precise micro-temporal measurements of Cortot's recording. These measurements were carried out by the composer, graciously assisted by Olivier Senn, at Harvard University during the summer months of 2010.

In La fille rythmée, only the precise rhythm of the Cortot recording, and the shapes of Debussy’s gestures, are preserved. Debussy’s original piano music is translated to a small table of percussion instruments of mostly indefinite pitch, including some that refer to the influence of Asian art on Debussy’s aesthetic. It is rather like a rhythmic X-ray of a recorded performance: A rhythmic “La fille”.