belongs to a triptych cycle devoted to the metal contrabass clarinet. This cycle is the result of a close collaboration undertaken with Alain Billard, clarinettist and soloist with the Ensemble intercontemporain. The first work of the cycle, Art of Metal I, is a confrontation between the metal contrabass clarinet and an ensemble of seventeen instrumentalists. The second, Art of Metal II, unites the contrabass clarinet with a live electronic system. As for Art of Metal III, it unites both the solo instrument and the seventeen-member ensemble with a live electronic system.
The cycle’s connecting thread, the driving idea, is a metaphorical approach to what metal brings to mind. It is often synonymous with strength, power, solidity, energy, brilliance, shine... The instrument itself is totally made of metal; the instrument-making studio of Henri Selmer even designed a special metal mouthpiece for the piece to replace what is usually made of ebonite.
In addition to researching powerful metallic sonorities, the other important concern was the sound produced by the voice in the metal contrabass clarinet as well as in the various wind instruments that comprise the ensemble. This blend, this hybridisation, provokes acoustic disturbances and modifies the instrument’s timbre considerably. The voice is used in either a singing or shouting manner. These shrieks, produced simultaneously with split sounds, augment the sound’s distortion and saturation, timbres seem to burst, to explode, creating violent energy. These playing techniques call for precise control from performers and an intense physical engagement in the sound that will have obvious consequences on the perception of the musical discourse. Art of Metal I is dedicated to Alain Billard.