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In Vivo - Raphaël Cendo

Made up of three movements, In Vivo develops around a single material: a granular sound produced by strong pressure of the bow on the strings, varied by different gestures (slide, vibrato, accents, strokes). This extremely simple timbral world turns out to have incredible force when it is developed, carved in the different registers. In the three movements, it shows three states of its matter, three states of all its possibilities, and imposes itself on us in its original mystery, like a permanent phenomenon.


In Vivo I (2008)

This first movement focuses on the intensely close aspect of the initial material. What is in play here are the movements of masses, ultrafast counterpoint, and glissando granular sounds. Saturation acts on three fields:

1. Saturation of the instrumental body. The instruments are prepared with a sheet of aluminium, which, placed like a mute on the bridge, adds a constant metallic timbre.

2. Saturation through density. Splitting of gestures and impacts resulting in a complex


3. Saturation by granulation. Saturation of the instrumental source through the use of crushed sounds. This takes the form of:

a. Different bow pressures (semicrushed, crushed, as well as the transition from one bowing pressure to another).

b. The placing of the bow (in front of or behind the bridge) or the register used, which modifies the quality of the grain.

c. Speed of shifting between registers by maximal vibrato speed, acceleration, deceleration or tremolo of the crushed sound.


Superimpositions of the four instruments emerge from the interferences, masking effects, an inordinate largeness of the musical that I call hors-son (beyond sound), an aura that emanates from the accumulation of frequencies. This aura could be explained by analogy with the holographic phenomenon: what we hear first of all—the music in itself (its shifts, articulations, rhythm)—is only one of the dimensions of what is really happening. The result of the accumulations deforms our perception of the sound. This aura forms a halo, thereby adding layers to the initial “platform.”


In Vivo II (2009)

We are here at the heart of the quartet, in its workmanship, where the initial matter is heard in its pure state. The granulation and movements are slowed down excessively, letting the saturated mordents be heard, along with slow vibrations of the timbres of the prepared strings. We are no longer on the surface of a complex sound but inside it. This technique of excessive slowing down, decreasing intensity and movements (infrasaturation) opens up another possibility of listening to saturation. It allows for hearing the energy at its source, before it unfolds, and perceiveing all its contours, imagining all its paths.


In Vivo III (2010–11)

Whereas the first movement used only a saturation of mass, the last takes up the initial material to fragment and split it up. Here, the timbres are dispersed in all the registers, played at fast tempi, thereby accentuating the impression of complete disorientation. Throughout this movement we hear different degrees of roughness, different ways of rubbing the strings with the bow. Here, density is quite unstable, going from one level to another, thus constantly changing the quartet’s overall matter. Speed and energy are pushed to the maximum, as well as register shifts and rapid changes of timbres. The multiple divisions of the initial material give this last movement a strange impression of déjà vu, of a reminder of the first movement, transformed and decomposed. Tension (dramatic and physical) is at its height, the body engendering action in a movement of decomposition.

Raphaël Cendo