Moll, opéra lilliput pour six roches molles

Marcelle Deschênes

Programme Notes

Moll, opéra lilliput pour six roches molles

To our “fleeting body, neither lasting nor stone.” — Roger Caillois

A transposition of children’s dreams of sea, earth and sky from a research project in music teaching (Université Laval, 1975), this suite of 17 miniatures is the result of long, obsessive hours spent looking at the ordinary gray pebbles found on the Bas-Saint-Laurent beaches.

No one knows quite why, but the fascinating force of the Origins and memories of a lost paradise rule the tiny world of pebbles and grains of dust. All these forgotten, undecipherable signs look strangely like the sea, the stars, an insect, the red moon, the mountain, the thunderstorm, human dramas, and abstract points, lines and spirals. The wonders of children? If you shrink down and mineralize yourself, they offer a sanctuary or vertigo, vague daydreaming or initiation, “hearing the sounds of the hermetic stone under a tiny spot on the inside of the heart” (Mahmoud Shabistari). I also wanted to express the revelation of a crazy itinerary through the slow grind of Time. Exploring the underside of tiny things, introspecting in the world of childhood, the infinitely big littleness, hardness turning into something soft, tender, flexible, inert becoming alive, drama turning to wonder, sadness becoming sweet madness.

[English translation: François Couture, viii-06]

Moll, opéra lilliput pour six roches molles [Moll, Lilliput Opera for Six Soft Rocks] was realized in 1976 in the studio of the Université Laval (Québec City) and premiered on March 18, 1976 at McGill University’s Pollack Hall in Montréal by the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ). It had been commissioned by the SMCQ with support from the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA). Thanks to Stéphane Clark for the dreamy narrative. Moll, opéra lilliput pour six roches molles won First Prize (Mixed Works) at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1978) and it was later awarded an Euphonie d’or in 1992 “as one of the twenty most significant works from two decades of the Bourges Awards.”


  • March 18, 1976, Concert 75, Salle Pollack — Pavillon Strathcona — Université McGill, Montréal (Québec)


This recording was realized and mixed in 1978 by Jean Corriveau at Studio Jean Sauvageau in Montréal; mastering by Dominique Bassal in 2005.

  • Instrumentation: 2 clarinets, 3 trombones, 3 percussions sets, toys and stereo fixed medium
  • Composer(s): Marcelle Deschênes
  • Year of composition: 1976
  • Commission: SMCQ, with support from the CCA
  • ISWC: T0729105376
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISRC: CAD500619870


The World Is a Water Drop and “Lucia di Lammermoog”

Birth of the Soft Rocks

Puce: Zig!… Zig! Zig!… Are you there? Are you hurt? — Zig: I don’t think so. I fell on something soft. (“Zig and Puce”)

Dry Insects — Yawning One’s Head Off

Variable Star

“Bittuber” Insects: Drinking the Sea With a Straw

Double Star

Game: Toward Synchronization

B by the Sea


J’ai perdu le si de ma clarinette

As the Moon Rises Red (“Wozzeck”)

Supernova and Pulsing Stars

Morning Star

Ghost Ships

London Bridge Is Falling Down

The World Is an Air Bubble

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