LOOPS III, for two flutes
Commissioned by L’Itinéraire for his 30th Birthday

In most of the works written for solo flute dating from the second half of the last century, different playing techniques - pizzicato, tongue ram, key percussion, glissando, breathy tone and whistletone - have become commonplace, and the instrument itself the vehicle of a certain form of exoticism. Because of my good fortune in working with Pierre-Andre Valade since my childhood, I have been unable to resist the temptation of including these effects, and Eolia, a piece I wrote in 1981, symbolises the procedure. Following Loops 1 for solo flute (1999), I have again tried to make use of the flute in its most immediate form, namely its flexibility, fluidity and flights of virtuosity, deliberately making no use of any particular playing technique. Earlier, when commenting on this first Loops, I wrote that for a long time now I have wanted to compose a piece for solo flute, in fact, since Eolia, in which I tried to move away from the classic voluble flute as it appears in traditional music. In Loops I the sound of the flute and its techniques are of less importance than the transformation procedure at work. The principle of the style of the piece is contained in the title which, when ‘looped’, creates its own alliteration, and this idea colours a whole series of pieces based on the same principle. I start with littte rhythmic motifs that are repeated and transformed as they progress. In fact, they are simple formulas which, by adding or taking away from themselves, end up creating further loops. This is also valid for Loops III, written for two flutes, a new piece that shares the same preoccupations but with this difference: this work incorporates a new idea, since the music is deliberately obsessive. In fact, each transformation of the little "motifs that are exposed inevitably leads to a loop that has already been heard, and the hearer is gradually absorbed into a sort of spider’s web from which it proves very difficult to disentangle oneself. In other words, certain identifiable loops organise the structure of the piece, and the transformations by morphing that they undergo, no matter how variable, only end up by taking us to the same place. Although the music seems to be constantly evolving, the stages it goes through are always the same, and this is the underlying paradox on which the piece is founded. Although Loops I was above all based on melody, Loops III was constructed of spectrum-built aggregates. My choice of two flutes for Loops III resulted from my desire to make two identical instruments sound like one, part of my work on sound synthesis that I am currently developing with ensembles and orchestras. The two instruments thus often play in homorhythm, and although the piece is very rhythmic, I have above all paid attention to the harmonies and timbres created by the extended use of microtones. From time to time, one of the flutes makes an escape in order to "live its own life", at which point melody gains the upper hand, before finally returning to the side of the other flute a few bars later.

Loops I was a playful piece just dashed onto paper, a kind of whiff of oxygen in my output, whereas Loops III, even if it does contain that kind of spontaneity, appears as a more rigorous piece. This wo rk of mine for flute continued with Ritornello for Flute and Piano, which I wrote for Anne-Cécile Cuniot and Jean-Marie Cottet, and Phonus or the Voice of Fauna for Flute and Orchestra composed for Benoît Fromanger and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; its motifs and orchestral writing were directly inspired by the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. There the flute also had a more traditional character already present in Syrinx.

Maybe the flute and I have now come full circle (and closed the loop).

Philippe Hurel

»Download the program note : Loops III.rtf«


© 2007-2010 - Philippe Hurel et Gilles Pouëssel