Jean-Louis Florentz: hospitality and spectralism

Sholl, Robert (2016) Jean-Louis Florentz: hospitality and spectralism. In: Spectralisms, 15-16 March 2017, Oxford. (Unpublished)

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Jean Louis Florentz (1947-2004) was in Messiaen’s class of 1971-72 with Grisey, Murail and Levinas. While some of his early works 9discussed here fore the first time) were performed under the auspices of L’Itinéraire, references to spectralism in his own (mostly unpublished) writings and by commentators are absent. After Messiaen’s class, he forged a different path from his fellows, recording musical sources in Africa and the Middle East. But it was from Ethiopian liturgical music that Florentz created his own unique style of spectral thought.
This study, the first major study in English, addresses Florentz’s inculcation of spectralism through his ideal of the organ with examples drawn from movements of his seven-movement cycle for organ, Laudes (1985). I demonstrate how spectralism is an ingredient of Florentz’s hospitality in his modes, and how Florentz derives his system of 31 pentaphonic modes from Ethiopian music with reference to the natural resonance of the harmonic spectrum. To do this I will show some ways in which Florentz’s approach to the harmonic spectrum is complementary to that of Messiaen. I examine how Florentz’s spectral thinking employs the technology of the organ to promote fantasy harmonics, and inculcate what he calls ‘harmonic vibratos’ and the harmonics produced by airplane reactors into Laudes, an idea that can be thought of as Florentz’s own method of introducing spectral inharmonicism into his work.
Throughout the study I demonstrate many different ways in which Florentz inculcates spectralism into his thought. This reveals how spectralism and modal thinking are hinges that enable Florentz’s ideal of ‘hospitality’, which he describes as a ’mask, through which I can envisage a first “contact” with the other mode … and of which the transcription in our occidental notation [solfège] gives the sensibility of the same face … he who makes contact, makes exchange….’. In conclusion Florentz, I explore the resonance of spectralism in later works by the composer, and the way in Florentzian hospitality and spectralism create an aesthetics of the ineffeable or transcendent that fulfills his desire for a religious/ethnographic ‘ecumenical’ synthesis.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Music > Musicology
Depositing User: Robert Sholl
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2018 09:18
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:10

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