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Michel Chion

Programme notes

Along with Dix études de musique concrète, Sonate, and 24 préludes à la vie, Variations belongs to a series of works, composed between 1987 and 1990, that takes the form of technical studies (through the search for ways to create varied sound textures using so-called ‘analog’ technology) as well as studies in concision, that aim at finding a kind of briefness specific to music on tape.

Thus Variations starts off with an original waltz theme, modified according to forms and methods designed to attest the specific field of the art of fixed sounds (also called acousmatic music or, as I prefer to call it, musique concrète).

Separated by marked periods of silence, the successive blocks which make up this piece are not movements in the traditional sense of the term, but rather ‘fragments,’ as those of a mosaic.

Nevertheless, I don’t believe I relinquish any expressive intentions in this work: it is the affirmation of the whirlwind of life which despite everything, remains vital even when confronted to failure and reality.


Variations was realized in the studios of the GRM in Paris (France) and premiered in concert on March 7, 1990 in Caen (France). It was also presented on April 25, 1990 at the Clair de terre concert series organized by the Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustiques du Québec (ACREQ) at the Planétarium de Montréal (Québec) — it was spatialized by Gilles Gobeil. Variations was commissioned by the French State (Music Office) and the Ina-GRM (Paris).


  • March 7, 1990, Concert, Caen (Calvados, France)
  • Composer(s): Michel Chion
  • Year of composition: 1990, 2003
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: French State (Music Office), Ina-GRM
  • ISWC: T0030668508
  • Duration: 10:02
  • ISRC: CAD509310670