Jeu is an acousmatic work based on different uses of the French word ‘jeu,’ a word which does not translate well into English (there are two English words for ‘jeu’: ‘game’ and ‘play’). The different meanings of the word as well as its different use in expressions were ‘sounded’ (put to sound), in both the literal and the metaphorical senses. It is a kind of “cinema for the ear” where an abstract sound story is told using, from time to time, somewhat realistic and recognizable sounds:
Rules of the game. Circus games, Olympic games. Games of skill. Wholesale massacre. Parlor game. Out of play. To gamble with one’s life. To like to play. To ruin oneself at gambling. Make your play. The die is cast, “rien ne va plus”. The play of a bolt, of a spring. To loosen a window or a drawer. The game of skittles, of bowls. To have every opportunity. To hide one’s game. The big play. Organ stops. To play carefully. To play dangerously. Double play. A brilliant, nuanced manner of playing. Stage directions. “Stop fooling around or it will end in tears.” Plays of Prince. A game of the imagination. Play on words. A child’s play.
Jeu was realized in 1988 and ’89 at the studio of the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB), France, and at the studio of the Université de Montréal (audio mixing assistance: Alain Roy) and premiered on June 8, 1989 at the Synthèse Festival of Experimental Music (Bourges). The piece was commissioned by the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Bourges (GMEB). The residency in France was made possible with support from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA) and of the ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec. Thanks to the guitarists, percussionists, and accordionists of the Paris metro, to Karlheinz Stockhausen (excerpt of Hymnen), to Perotin (for his Viderunt Omnes) and to all the staff of the GMEB. Jeu was awarded a Mention at the 11th Luigi Russolo International Competition (Varese, Italy, 1989).