Bernard Heidsieck

Critica

Bernard Heidsieck commenced sound poetry in 1955 with his 'poem partitions' and, since 1966 on, a species he terms 'biopsies'. Both types are rooted in a direct relation to everyday life. Heidsieck sometimes refers to both the biopsies and poem-partitions as 'action' poems (not to be confused with the action poetry of either Steve McCaffery or Robert Filliou). 'Action' since the pieces incorporate the actuality of quotidian soundscapes: subways, streetcars, taxis. Texts utilized are often found and superimposed and involve complex variations in tape speed, volume and editorial juxtaposition.
In addition to their value as social comment, Heidsieck sees his sound texts existing within the domain of 'a ritual, ceremonial or event' that assumes an interrogative stance vis a vis our daily wordscapes. The day to day is appropriated and animated to make meaningful 'our mechanical and technocratic age by recapturing mystery and breath'. Heidsieck incorporates the taped-text within the context of live performance and plays off his own live voice against his own voice recorded. It is a positive solipsism that frequently results in a rich textural fabric. Since 1969 Heidsieck has called his tape compositions 'passe-partout' viz. universal pass keys. The passe-partout marks a further development in Heidsieck's central interest: the use of everyday, incidental soundscapes to be isolated and presented in their intrinsic integrity and their electroacoustic modification.
In France today Bernard Heidsieck is the sound poet most directly influenced by the simultaneism (Orphism) of Henri-Martin Barzun. His "Poèmes-Partitions" is a poetry-action(= communication) which places it in direct contact with the reality of the world. The event is treated as in Godard's cinema-vérité. Though a friend of Dufrêne and Chopin, he does not reject the common language, quite the opposite. His problem is one of assembly, that is, of rhythm: assembly of the magnetic tape, superimposition or alternation to voices and sounds. The construction of his texts is based on the counterpoint between a continuous diction and an interrupted diction, the noises, used as punctuation, are established by a score which does not admit of improvisation. Progression (appearance fragment by fragment of phrases which are gradually completed), a circular process (evident in the works presented "Vaduz, passepartout No. 22"), abrupt breaks, rigid structure, contrast with the linear automatism of his friends. The fragmentation of speech, the increasing rhythm of interjections, disorientations and at the same time dramatize the discourse. Heidsieck's works can be described as radiophonic dramas.

Steve McCaffery

[from Sound Poetry: A Survey]