Pierre Jodlowski is a composer, performer and multimedia artist. His music, often marked by a high density, is at the crossroads of acoustic and electric sound and is characterized by dramatic and political concerns. His work as a composer has led him to perform in France and abroad in most places dedicated to contemporary music, as well as, other artistic fields of dance, theater, visual arts, and electronic music.
His work unfolds today in many areas: film, interactive installations, and staging. He defines his music as an “active process” on the physical level [musical gestures, energy and space] and on the psychological level [relating to memory, and the visual dimension of sound]. In conjunction with his composing, he also often performs, solo or with other artists.
Since 1998 he is co-artistic director of éOle (studio and production center based in Odyssud – Cultural center in Blagnac) and Novelum festival in Toulouse.
What is your earliest musical memory that, in looking back, has proved to be significant regarding your career as a composer?
Well, my earliest memory with music is when I was 4 or 5 years old. My parents used to listen to classical and jazz music and generally I was always paying attention to this. It was happening with some specific pieces, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Ravel’s Bolero. Each time they were listening to those two masterpieces, I would come, sit very close to the loudspeakers, and stay there until the end of recording, without moving. It had a sufficient importance that my parents decided that I should start to study music!
If relevant, which composer(s) have been the most influential regarding your own work? Has this changed over time?
After this first memory, I kept loving to discover famous classical works as well as famous jazz musicians (John Coltrane in particular). I really jumped into contemporary music much later, after classical studies. My masters at this time were Edgar Varèse, Iaanis Xénakis and Gyogy Ligeti. Closer in time I really spent a lot of time studying Fausto Romitelli‘s music, Gérard Grisey and some specific works of Karlheinz Stockhausen. But I have also kept strong interest in free jazz and rock (John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and Pink Floyd… just very few of them).
Can you describe your working process, i.e., do you have a regular schedule for writing; do you use a computer for composing (either for creating pre-composition materials or notation), if so, do you find that it inhibits your process? What other technology, if any, do you use?
First of all, I am composing more or less every day. Even when my schedule is too busy with other things (administration is taking up a lot of time) I am trying to stay in a musical process all the time.
I use different approaches for my projects, but generally it is more or less like this: first I am really digging a concept and find a title (linked with societal questions, conceptual structures, relations with other arts, i.e. cinema or architecture). Then I start to prepare some materials, sounds, scales, rhythmical patterns. I improvise with those materials, by playing or pre-composing in order to achieve some more organic structures. Only then do I start the score, using computer at this time (not before; I need to keep a relation with paper, schemes, notes, text).
Please describe a recent work and provide a link to an audio clip.
Here is a link on my website where you can get information about a recent piece, for accordion and electronics. This piece is really typical from my work in the way that the process of writing was based on what I explained just above. First of all, I defined that I wanted to work from the film Apocalypse Now; I prepared some musical material and sounds based on the movie’s soundtrack. Then I started to prepare some “sounding ambiance” and I used a sampler to improvise with accordion sound (which is very important in order to check timbral relations with the electronic sounds). And then, I started with the score.
For this project, I was working quite closely to a musician, named Pascal Contet who commissioned this piece. I was sending to him some scores as far as I was keeping going in the writing process in order to solve some technical questions and to stay really close from the instrument reality.