Jeux Traces Canso

by Bruno Guastalla

Trace 1 01:02
Jeu 1 02:11
Trace 2 03:21
Canso 1 01:40
Jeu 2 03:42
Trace 3 03:48
Jeu 3 05:45
Canso 2 05:00
Trace 4 18:58
Jeu 4 01:15


Bruno Guastalla: cello, voice, loutar

The set was recorded (thanks to their generosity) in one session at St Matthew’s Church, Marlborough Road, Oxford UK, on a stormy evening, 15th June 2020. The grey noise in the background of the earlier pieces of the set is of the rain hitting the roof of that spacious empty building.

The sounds happen as a result of readings of scores which don’t specify what is being played, but difference and sameness from what has just been played. This can be in the form of a sequence of categorised sound events, or, as in the longer Trace 4, a sequence of varying degrees of change from what has just happened.

These are improvisations on cello, playing with specific areas: Jeu 1 is for prepared cello, Jeu 2: mostly for harmonics, Jeu 3 is playing with the delightful analogue ring modulator from Fairfield Circuitry in Quebec, and Jeu 4 is free. Ring modulators hold a bit of a fascination for me because of their analogy with ‘difference tones’ (the ghostly third sound which one hears when two high sounds are played together), and how these may relate to how hearing is constructed in the mind. Ring modulation creates a harmony which has its own unwavering (wavy) rules.

A few verses from Deiosta’ls breus jorns.. by Peire d’Alvernhe.
Peire d’Alvernhe was a 12th C. Troubadour, poet-musician from the south of what is now France. The ‘trace’ idea comes back here, but almost in reverse: his music and poetry, as is the case for most of the Troubadours, was written down about a hundred years after his death, inside ‘Chansonniers’, illuminated songbooks often commissioned as presents. The notation used at that time specifies pitches pegged on the verses’ syllables, and not much else. Even if I am familiar with readings of this sort of music which others have realised within the rich history of the ‘early music’ movement, I still am in a position of encountering a trace and having to construct sounds from it. I play a loutar which is an unfretted goat skin lute from the Atlas Mountains. In the (relatively recent) singing tradition of the Amazigh singers-songwriters such as Mohamed Rouicha, the loutar doubles the voice and comments on it; I try to do this with the sinewed lines of Peire’s conflicted love poetry.

Bruno Guastalla (June 2020)


released June 23, 2020


all rights reserved



Hundred Years Gallery London, UK

Hundred Years Arts is a not for profit CIC (Registered company number 9059577) supporting international experimental music and the visual arts in Hoxton, East London.

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