Arthur Pétronio – Verbophonie

Arthur Pétronio - Verbophonie LP front cover
Arthur Pétronio - Verbophonie LP back coverArthur Pétronio - Verbophonie LP side A
Arthur Pétronio (1897-1983)

The son of Italian quick-change artist Leopoldo Fregoli, Switzerland-born violinist, poet and painter Arthur Pétronio (1897-1983) lived in Belgium and The Netherlands between 1910 and 1924. Trained as a violinist and a pupil of Eugène Ysaÿe before WWI, Pétronio was a member of the Orchestre du Théâtre Royal de Liège. He published several avantgarde poetry journals in Belgium, including the influential Créer (1922-1923), a loose avantgarde group including poet, artist, musician and photographer E.L.T. Mesens and writer Franz Hellens, as well as connexions with people like Le Corbusier, Jean Cocteau or Pablo Picasso. Pétronio settled in France in 1924.

Sang et Chair, 1955Pétronio published several books of his own poetry, like Sang et Chair, 1955, pictured right. He apparently created the “verbophonie” concept as early as 1919, as a way to integrate sound poetry into regular music scores, but he developed the concept further in the 1950s thanks to tape recorders. No wonder Henri Chopin recognized a kindred spirit when the two met in the late 1950s. They collaborated on a tape composition titled Aérythme in 1963, and Pétronio was included in Henry Chopin’s Poésie Sonore Internationale, published by Jean-Michel Place, Paris, 1979. His composition titled Cosmosmose (also on this LP) was included in the Futura: Poesia Sonora LP box set published by Cramps, Italy, 1978.

♫  Petronio’s take on sound poetry embarks a fair deal of musique concrète, tape collages, primitive sound effects and noise, especially on Tellurgie (1964) and Cosmosmose (1968). Petronio’s sound art is thus well balanced between musique concrète and sound poetry. These are home recordings on less than professional equipment, though, and some unwanted noises show up, especially in #3. Several female readers/performers contribute to this theater of voices as guest vocalists, in addition to Petronio’s voice. Note Igloo actually started as a sound poetry label: the first Igloo release was a sound poetry LP by Jean-Paul Ganty in 1978, and Henri Chopin released an LP titled Poésie Sonore on the Belgian label in 1983.

01 Tellurgie (10:25)
02 Nouvelle Innocence (11:04)
03 Cosmosmose (18:00)
04 Sortilèges (4:04)

Total time 43:33
LP released by Igloo Records, IG002, Brüssels, 1979


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5 Responses to “Arthur Pétronio – Verbophonie”

  1. 1 DB Harps January 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you for this. I’ve been on a Petronio hunt for some time. It should come as no surprise to find him here with you.

  2. 2 continuo January 13, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    There’s an Igloo theme that’s pretty unique to this blog, I guess.

  3. 3 Stephen Boyle January 14, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Thanks for everything!

  4. 4 continuo January 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

    You’re welcome, Stephen.

  1. 1 Arthur Pétronio Verbophonie | uabab Trackback on November 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

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