- Kouros et Korê, 1979 (23:40)
Jeannette Inchauste: phonemes
Jean-Claude Frison: phonemes
- Innominé, 1974 (21:17)
Allessandra Mihail: voice
Foreign students from Brussels Free University: vocals
Total time 45:00
LP released by Igloo, Belgium, 1981
Belgian composer Leo Küpper (b.1935) started to experiment with electronic music in 1959 as a student at Liège University, Belgium, using two Brüel & Kjaer oscillators and a tape recorder. From 1961, while studying musicology in Brussels, he worked at Brussels Apelac electronic music studio, founded by Henri Pousseur in 1959. Küpper founded his own ‘Studio de Recherches et de Structurations Electroniques Auditives’ in Brussels in 1967. He created interactive sound installations he called ‘Public Computer Music’ (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Roma, 1977) and various electronic instruments like the ‘Automates Sonores’, the Kinephone in 1987, or the ‘Ordinateur Musical’, a voice-activated computer with electronic sounds interacting with the audience. These interactive musical events sometimes took place in Sound Domes (1977-1987), architectural structures with up to 100 speakers, like in Linz, Austria, 1984. Küpper was always fascinated with the human voice and some of his best works use it as source material. He researched the world of phonemes and glossolalia, or speaking in tongues in Christian and Orthodox liturgy. He founded the Phonemic and Vocal group in 1982, with singers using the musical machines described above. One of his compositions of 1974 is based on Antonin Artaud’s poem ‘L’enclume des Forces’. He often worked with actors and students, more rarely with professional singers (like mezzo-soprano A.M. Kieffer), in which case his music is comparable to Luciano Berio’s compositions for Cathy Berberian. In 1973, Küpper traveled to Iran to study santur with Hossein Malek. Since then, he has been a noted santur player, performing abroad during festivals and composing for santur and electronics.
‘Kouros et Korê’ (1979) is constructed from the extraordinary performances of dancer Jeannette Inchauste and actor Jean-Claude Frison, whose ability to produce a wide array of microscopic vocal sounds is used by Küpper to build a delicate, complex architecture of intertwined phonemes. The latter include such sub-categories as (in French): allophones, phonatomes, logatomes and phonetic micro-sounds. The close-up miking goes inside the sub-atomic structure of sound, while the studio montage organizes the phonetic sounds into a fascinating voicescape. No surprise sound poet Henri Chopin found the piece beautiful when Küpper played it to him in the 1980s (from a 2009 interview). Retrospectively, the works of Anna Homler, David Moss or Phil Minton seem to be inspired by these experiments.
‘Innominé’ (1974) uses the ‘Ordinateur Musical’ to process the utterances of a group of students. At the beginning, the program reacts with semi-aleatoric electronic sounds to the inchoate, indistinct ushed vocals. Then the seductive voice of Allessandra Mihail expresses the interrogations of an isolated individual. A fascinating electronic passage of dignified computer interjections follows at 6:00. Vocals return on 17:00, when all the students proposes new words and phonetic sounds according to their mother tongue (Chinese, Arab, Danish, French) during a collective performance using the interactive computer’s electronic treatment. In the end, the beauty of ‘Innominé’ impresses more than the technology used, which is indicative of its musical accomplishment.
1971 ‘L’Enclume Des Forces/Électro-Poème/Automatismes Sonores‘, LP, Deutsche Grammophon
1981 ‘Kouros et Korê/Innominé’, LP, Igloo 007
1985 ‘Amkéa/Aérosons’, LP, Igloo 032
199? ‘Litanea’, CD, Harmonia Mundi CM 2023
1996 ‘Electro-Acoustic’, CD, Pogus 21009-2
1999 ‘Ways of the Voice’, CD, Pogus 21018-2
2003 ‘Complete Electronic Works 1961-74’, CD, Sub Rosa
1991 ‘Cimbalom World Congress’, CD, Hungaroton HCD 18209