Apocalypse means revelation.
Doesn´t knowing that stupidity will disappear induce serenity?
It stings a little for sure, but one gains orientation.
Xavier Mignon is a poet, photographer and writer. He´s produced a DVD with excerpts of the St. John Apocalypse, completed with his own poetry and photographs. On the DVD, the text are spoken by actors and illustrated through my music.
As the music pieces are not in their entirety, I decided to release this CD separately.
It´s the result of a 3 years work, between the idea and the realization. Even Ii knew the text of the Apocalypse, the poetry and pictures brought me to immerse deeper in this Revelation, so as to pull out the “substantifique moelle” for a piece of art. It is also an important step in the evolution of my composition style.
I´ve always been an improviser, over the years I always worked on keeping as much spontaneity as possible in my recorded improvisations, and avoid all mannerism, be it Baroque or Jazz (the music that today still feature improvisation). I try to develop a different improvisation practice, more traditional, therefore modal in our current time.
Modal means playing only the notes of a given mode. Gregorian is the theory basic of occidental music. Each mode produces a particular kind of spiritual state on the audience – a particular “color” of emotion. Each note of the mode helps nuance this effect. The musician is supposed to respect the mode. Indian music has kept the definitions of the modes (ragas) and their related notes, which is why the study of Indian music is important for a musician (study doesn´t mean copy).
Mixing the modes in an improvisation destroys their effect, reducing them to a mixture of grayish emotions, from where only the lowest (in the human psychological scale) will emerge (as in a crowd).
As in my former productions, each piece has its own life and develops to its end, not compelled to the 3 minutes time-span generally admitted for advertising, i.e. social engineering and the “control” of population.
01 - Serene Apocalypse – Ut Queant Laxis - Viol improvisation - 11´ 25
Gregorian chant is exclusively monophonic. I improvised on the melody of the song Ut Queant Laxis. The mode is Dorian, besides the bases of the fourth and fifth, its important notes are the minor third and the second major, it begins on the seventh minor (an effect often used in Indian music) and has in fact no sixth.
This song expresses a feeling of humility and resignation, it was used as a mnemonic means by Guido d'Arezzo, a monk of the Abbey of Pompose, at the beginning of the twelfth century, to give names to the first six notes: ut , Re, mi, fa, sol, la, which are deduced as an acrostic of the first stanza of the hymn to Saint John the Baptist.
The Abbot Auber says that the air of this hymn was that of an old Greek song in the time of Sapho de Lesbos, about 350 BC. JC. (History and Theory of Religious Symbolism, IV, 249)
Here is the text and translation:
Ut queant laxis
“So that they may resonate through the relaxed fibers (of the vocal cords), O St. John, deign to look at the servant of your gestures and resolve the sin of his impure lips”.
As for the “liberties” to the model I took in my improvisation, Humility does not mean “behaving as a piece of New-Age cabbage”
02 - Serene Apocalypse – Tombeau 6´13
Beware of the quiet sleepy ocean:
He receives in his belly all abominations Vomited through your sewers, tankers and giant barges
But one day he will come out of his bed
To invade your borders, polluted beaches and factories
Enters the modern era, the project supposed the use of modern means, also in the production of music, as well as the possibility of realizing all the pieces in concert with classical orchestra. It is also the other facet of my current work, the search for new sounds and timbres that allows modern technology, Ttechnology which, even if it is satanic enough, is none the less the work of the Infinite (see the Book of Job)
03 - Serene Apocalypse – A la Claire Fontaine 1 Viol Improvisation - 4´45>
“Blessed is he that readeth,
and they that hear the words of this prophecy,
and keep those things which are written therein:
for the time is at hand.” (Ap. I, 3)
This popular traditional song is very symbolic, from this fountain, I drink as often as possible...
Xavier had asked me to record various emotional moments, that is why I cut the improvisation here in 3 parts (one separate CD features both improvisations in their entirety)
04 - Serene Apocalypse – Middle-East Children - 8´03
1 – Earthquake
I saw a great earthquake
The sun became black as a sack of horsehair,
The whole moon became like blood
2 – Destruction
But when the final cataclysm, inexorably
One night will trigger its mechanism,
It will be consternation
And everyone will be struck in his abode
3 - Migration
And you will flee, pursued by billions of insects,
Flying and crawling will devour you
By the Eyes, by the face and by the hands,
Revenging the billions of tons
Insecticide spilled by these same hands.
05 - Serene Apocalypse – Asian Fans – 9´14
A five steps piece like a Man who found the primordial Unity. The serenity here has an Asian color. This piece has also been used in a Vietnam TV documentary.
06 - Serene Apocalypse – A la Claire Fontaine 2 Viol Improvisation – 3´24
07 - Serene Apocalypse – Fukushimere – 7´42
1) 5th angel
“And the fifth angel sounded,
and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth:
and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
And he opened the bottomless pit;
and there arose a smoke out of the pit,
as the smoke of a great furnace;
and the sun and the air were darkened
by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Ap. 9, 1-2)
“And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth:
and unto them was given power,
as the scorpions of the earth have power. (Ap. 9, 3)
“And the four angels were loosed,
which were prepared for an hour,
and a day, and a month, and a year,
for to slay the third part of men.” (Ap. 9, 15)
08 - Serene Apocalypse – A la Claire Fontaine - Viole Improvisation 3 Joie - 6´45
Satisfied thirst causes happiness and joy
09 - Serene Apocalypse – Ut Queant Laxis - Epilogue 8´56
A Modern Broken Consort with 12 viols.
I divided the melody between several instruments, superimposed several lines,
tripled the theme, dared the church organ for the first time in my music, doubled in part by a hang.
I added a minor sixth for a fairly common harmonic cadence: fundamental - seventh - sixth - fifth.
I also tried to add a touch of ancient Greek color, after all this melody is still more than 2400 years old.
Hoping to have shown what I saw and heard.
First May 2017
Recorded between 2014 and 2017
GZ : acoustic viola da gamba, electric viola da gamba,
keyboards, percussions (special thanks to Ruediger Maul),
arrangements, programming, mix, production
Mastering : Hartmut Welz
Photos : Xavier Mignon & Vietnam TV