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Classical 101

The Ensemble Clement Jannequin and Music For Blogs

THREE AUDIO PIECES   A new recording by the Ensemble Clement Jannequin features works from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century based on the notion of the "cry." Jannequin's Les Cris de Paris is on the recording, titled L'Ecrit du cri (a pun very roughly translated as "Writings on the Cry") as are works by other composers inspired by street cries. The title of Belgian composer Claude Ledoux's Cri de blog (2007) caught my attention.  Inspired by the utterings of a woman diagnosed with HIV, its form of expression is a postmodern musical version of the primal scream: the blog post, an incoherent expression of despair launched into the vast emptiness of cyberspace.  Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the piece: [audio:ledoux_opening.mp3] The work's text is music as much for the eyes as for the ears.  On the page it looks the model of blog "efficiency," a text brief enough and with enough repeated words and white space between them that the eye can take everything in almost in a single glance.  The word "vide"--"empty"--repeated at the beginning of the piece--shows on the page as seven lines of text.   The text continues (in my translation): What's the point of living?____/__________ ++++Perpetual suffering ++++++Until the moment it's over, And ultimately to be able to die. And after a narrow column of abbreviations (text incipits, really) appears a URL (bogus--I typed it into a browser and nothing came up) featuring 3s posing hiply as letters as though to conceal the domain name's suggestiveness, followed by a drop into the void: http:sir3n3-s3nsual.skyblog.com/2.html
A sense of falling . . . Here's the tail end of the piece, what Ledoux thinks falling into the void of cyberspace sounds like: [audio:ledoux_ending.mp3] But as orderly as the text appears to the eye, Ledoux's atonal music gives voice (five voices, actually) to it out of sequence and in an appropriately dissonant combination of speaking and singing: the author of this musical blog post can't quite find her voice in the despair that has consumed her.  In this excerpt her disorientation is at its peak: [audio:leoux_middle.mp3] An interesting commentary on the life of a woman condemned to death in a world (some might say) smothered by the inhumanity of the technology that runs it.  Whatever you think about the piece, you sure can't argue with it. --Jennifer Hambrick