Prior to his notable status as a pupil of the slightly more legendary, musique concrète-pioneering Pierre Schaeffer, the late French composer Bernard Parmegiani enjoyed a relatively short but successful stint as a mime.
See?! At some point in the more recent past, mime artistry became an object of ridicule, and now the assumption is facetiousness whenever that most courageous of professions is proclaimed with a straight face. But Parmegiani’s involvement, albeit short-lived, was serious, and it included an education from another renowned teacher of their craft, Jacques Lecoq. Due respect was subsequently paid: in the former’s more audible pursuits, he often used mime to three-dimensionally graph his compositions, as he described in an interview with The Wire back in 1998: “Sometimes, in order to analyze a sound, I act it out by means of gestures before giving it its definitive form. It enables me to diagnose sounds and see if I’m comfortable with them.” Arguably, the semi-abrupt movements of mime parallel the sparse notes of at least some of Parmegiani’s extensive and heterogeneous work, as well as musique concrète in general.
And the other kind of mime? The kind without face paint or, in 2014, a bravery comparable to that of your average male cheerleader? The respective works of modern day sound artists Rashad Becker, Florian Hecker, and Vessel avoid blatant imitation (mimicry), but each individual readily acknowledges Parmegiani’s personal acousmatic influence. In a three-day retrospective hosted by LCMF (London Contemporary Music Festival), performances from the three aforementioned artists will complement a preceding 32-loudspeaker “diffusion” of Parmegiani’s work, courtesy of once-colleagues at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM). The event will take place next month at the 20,000 square foot Britannia House in London — an environment that appears fitting for an oeuvre that evinces both precision and an experimental approach to sound processing.
More details are available here.
• Rashad Becker: http://www.clunk.de
• Hecker: http://florianhecker.blogspot.com
• Vessel: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vessel/109428755874271
• LCMF: http://lcmf.co.uk
[Photo: Roberto Serra]