"François Le Lionnais"
for Prescript Chamber Ensemble (Oulipo Posentante)
Bil Smith Composer
Recording on SoundCloud:
In 2010, I was approached by a unique individual by the name of Bernard Charron (not sure it was his real name). He asked me about my music and we moved onto the subject of literature and writing. This led to a lengthly discussion about the Oulipo and our respective opinions about their oeuvre. Some months later he contacted me and asked if I would be interested in writing short musical 'vingettes' as he described them, mimicking the Oulipian aesthetic utilizing my "compaction music" techniques.
I found the concept interesting, but at the time I was quite busy with other commitments. He returned to me several weeks later and stated that he had secured a grant from Société Générale Group to allow me to pursue this endeavor.
Here I present one of a number of these works, composed for "Prescript Chamber Ensemble", performed by the members of the Juilliard Faculty in NY, The Boston Symphony, Ensemble Debrosses and The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
About the Oulipo...
Although Oulipo (Ouvroir de litterature potentielle -- TheWorkshop for Potential Literature) does not want to be considered a literary school, or to overtly advance specific ideologies or theories, its goals portray an understanding of literature that merits outline and critique. Oulipo was founded in 1960 by Francois Le Lionnais and Raymond Queneau. The Oulipians emphasize the use of formal constraints in their literary production in reaction to the emphasis placed on "ecriture automatique"by the Surrealists. Although a mathematical equation is usually at the base of their constraints, Oulipians also pay tribute to literary history by declaring all structures of all various genres of past eras open to innovation. Inso doing, they define their relationship with French literature: it is one of direct innovation on the stockpile of texts of differing genres, and their goal is to offer new forms to future writers by elucidating the potential of past literary forms. In essence, they work actively with literary history and do not submit to its domination.