To Jacqueline Gezels
•• Perception: Nature here is presented to the listener as it is. Eau (Water) opens the door to a universe of sensations, the first step to the awakening of knowledge. This “phonogram” — an expression coined by François-Bernard Mâche — consists of raw material, recorded up close and unaltered. It is the reflection of my perception and understanding of such a varied element, dissimilar even, in spite of appearances.
•• Energies / images: White noise. Opaque curtain. Fullness. Sizzles. Crackling of water. Rain. Storm. Transparent curtain. Lines and beads. Drops. Shelter. Emptiness. Fluids. Flow and repetition. Lines. Water mill. Waves. Undertow. Stagnation.
•• Symbols (Life and Death): Water, a symbol of life for Western man also a symbol of rebirth in the Judeo-Christian ethic, water is a metaphor for death for the Taoist: it is connected to the myth of the ‘yellow springs’ in the land of the Dead, dead who were buried to the north of the cities located far into the septentrion. However, the winter solstice, connected to the septentrion, is a favorable time for conception; the dynamic, solar energy (Yang) that spends winter surrounded by Water (Yin) recovers its full strength.
•• Form: The general form moves from Fullness to Emptiness through successive sequences of the different energy types encountered during listening. The alternation with the Emptiness of the ‘cave’ causes silence to be perceived in a different way every time, and gives rhythm to time (like these fragments of Chinese paintings that are revealed little by little as the roller turns).
•• Anecdote: Many recording ‘campaigns’ were necessary in different locations. I immersed myself with sheer delight in a universe of fascinating beauty, using the microphone as a magnifying glass that makes audible the infinite diversity of conditions in which water can be found (speed of flow, nature and location of the boulders, rocks, pebbles, sand) and taking advantage of any surprising encounter like that of a bell tolling midnight as I ran around a four-branched Provençal fountain (the initial houang tchong pipe, the ‘golden bell’, is associated with the ‘yellow springs’, in the middle of the night, at the winter solstice…).
•• Spatialization: Four or six loudspeakers allow a level projection, which gives greater importance to stereophonic pairs and divides the work in geographical areas. The changing water flows over my senses I stand still.
Eau [Water] was realized at the Métamorphoses d’Orphée studio of Musiques & Recherches in Ohain (Belgium) and premiered on April 21, 1984 by Violette Beaujeant in an initial mixed version with amplified zheng during the 1st acousmatic festival L’Espace du son at L’Orangerie — Le Botanique in Brussels (Belgium).