Emmanuel Brun – La Scie Musicale

Emmanuel Brun – La Scie Musicale LP front cover
Emmanuel Brun – La Scie Musicale LP back cover
Emmanuel Brun – La Scie Musicale LP side 1

Rifle champion Emmanuel BrunFrench musical saw virtuoso Emmanuel Brun (~1935- 2004) championned the instrument in France, first as a means for musicotherapy, then as a proper concert instrument. But in the 1950s and ’60s, Emmanuel Brun was first a champion of . . . fencing,  judo, dumbbells and shooting gun (rifle) disciplines, of which he was a leading competitor in France at the time. In the 1960s, he worked in the field of music therapy and psychoacoustics with Professor Jacques Jost, who used the musical saw’s acoustic properties to cure patients in a Paris mental hospital. After 1975, Brun had a duo with pianist and partner Paule Sagne, with whom he toured extensively around 1975-85.

♫ The blurb on the cover quoting Elizabethan Canticles and musique concrète as references for this record, it was enough to pique my curiosity and pick up a copy. If truth be told, the sound of musical saw is more prosaic than tuned glasses, but Brun’s mastery of the instrument makes it sound pure and heavenly, not unlike some Ondes Martenot in Messiaen. The album includes some traditional tunes adapted for saw (Gounod, Haendel, an Elizabethan canticle), as well as some original compositions by Brun and arranger Geny Detto. The truly magical #4 Hommage à Béjart, for instance, is based on Brun’s contemporary piano improvisation and ghostly synthesizer sounds, plus guitar and bass by Geny Detto, over which Brun sends supernatural musical saw interjections. Tracks #5 and #6, complete with groovy bass guitar and heavy rock drums, are psychedelic numbers close to Pierre Henry’s Psyché Rock (see video below). The musique concrète element referred to on the cover is probably the beautiful #9 Aux Sources De L’Eldorado, based on a background of water, insect and bird sounds, over which Brun improvises an elevated, ancient melody.

01 Mélodie Au Levant 3:25
02 Ave Maria 3:15
03 Mon Ami Le Vent 2:20
04 Hommage à Béjart 4:05
05 La Voix Qui Fait Chanter La Guitare 2:00
06 La Voix Psychédélique 1:45
07 Scarbourought Fair 3:25
08 Concerto Pour La Porte Du Soleil 3:30
09 Aux Sources De L’Eldorado 2:30
10 Sous Les Etoiles 2:00
11 Largo 2:45

Emmanuel Brun, musical saw, piano, synthesizer
Geny Detto, guitar, bass guitar, drums

Total time 31:05
LP released by SFP, France, 1975


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6 Responses to “Emmanuel Brun – La Scie Musicale”

  1. 1 newname February 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks on nice music-images album.You have right about track 4.

  2. 2 continuo February 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Glad you enjoyed.

  3. 3 horstu February 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Quite astonishing… sounds like a Theremin unplugged

  4. 4 continuo February 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Indeed, and Emmanuel Brun’s technique is far much purer than any other musical saw player I’ve heard. He was also a good pianist, apparently.

  5. 5 Michelle March 2, 2012 at 4:48 am

    Thank you for this! I wonder if he knew of the musical saw festival in New York… I bought an album there of classical/contemporary music played on a saw. This is a video of one of the pieces in it: http://youtu.be/fwPkgJHiE7w Thought you might find it interesting.

  6. 6 continuo March 2, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Hi, Michelle. I had never heard of Scott Munson or Natalia Paruz, so thanks for the introduction to these interesting people. The string quartet+musical saw sounds really good.

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