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Opus 17 (1970), 96′
Processed tape recorder feedback
Realized in the author’s studio in Paris.
Premiered on May 23 1970 at the Centre Artistique de Verderonne, for the “Fête en blanc” (“Party in White”), a happening curated by Antoni Miralda, Joan Rabascall, Dorothée Selz and Jaume Xifra.
In 5 parts:
“Opus 17”, a major turning-point in the musical course of Éliane Radigue, was finished in 1970, and consistes of five distinct scenes. It was the last work composed with feedback materials. It is also the one in which Éliane Radigue returned to definitive time-frames, after several years of building “Musique sans Fin” (Endless Music) intended for ad libitum broadcast in a specific space (gallery, museum), an approach which intuitively joined music and the visual arts.
From that experimental period “Opus 17” preserves the plastic character : a music made of rough sonic phenomena, at once harsh and granular, possessing a quality of materiality and tactility. Its vibrations structure the air surrounding the listener with densities, thicknesses, indeed with palpable movement.
And yet one must recognize that Éliane Radigue has given her life to an essentially artificial material. One so very simple from which she has known how to draw out colours, tastes, and unheard-of intensities. Her procedures, of feedback and slowed-down by working with magnetic tape, are intrinsically animated: they have their own voice, lyric quality, “expressive force” as Éliane Radigue tells us. In other words, before she began composing she learned how to produce sounds which live and sing and touch us.
Her compositions are frames which let us hear these phenomena, open frameworks from the sonic installations of her “Musiques sans Fin” (cf. “Feedback Works 1969-70” double LP) and here reinserted in the five scenes making up “Opus 17”. Éliane Radigue probably feels that the infinite can nest itself in a reduced time-scheme, which she will work on her whole career.
In 1970, in her studio of very rudimentary means, she developed personal techniques for a completely unique body of work. She defines this work as being centered on sounds produced by feedback. “Opus 17” has the quality of showing off the sum of the achieved techniques and methods. Éliane Radigue’s music has never been rooted in ideas but in practice, the intimate experience of things in the wild which she has known how to tame. This dialog both intense and poetic which she keeps up with the solid matter of sound finds a remarkable concretization in “Opus 17”.