Giacinto Scelsi's illuminations

Giacinto Scelsi's illuminations

Giacinto Scelsi's illuminations

Contemporary music and the representation of dread: this subject occupies meters of shelf space in musical libraries. From Viennese expressionism to Bernard Herrmann's scores for Alfred Hitchcock, the topic has long seemed ongoing and never-ending.

But one must not forget a unique artistic personality, a brilliant musician who, rather than treating horror and bliss as opposites, considered them as two inseparable sides of the same spiritual experience. This musician, this self-taught genius, is Giacinto Scelsi.

Scelsi's "filmography" is certainly much more modest than that of Herrmann or his successors. Furthermore, it developed after his death, via the choices of iconoclastic filmmakers, such as Martin Scorcese. It is the explicit proof of the wealth of his illuminations, of the use of "sound as a magical incantation, an enchanting formula", an " equally creative and destructive sound". The musicologist Jacques Amblard, quoted above, granted us an exclusive interview on the subject of the composer and his relations with cinematographic modernity:


Or how the sonorous exultation of Uaxuctum, composed in 1966 but premiered decades later, and its amphigouric percussion (seven percussionists playing gigantic metal plates and other 200 liter barrels), used in Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island released in theaters in 2010, becomes as unforgettable as the psychological suffering of the hero played by Leonardo DiCaprio:

A work of excess, Uaxuctum has also become a trial of a scientific nature. It is at the hyperradio laboratory at Radio France, recognised for its technological prowess with multidimensional sounds, that the work’s cinematic destiny was established, with Uaxuctum 360, an immersive virtual-reality project in which the sets move so as to invite the viewer to “let go”


By following a different path than that of Hermann’s psychotic ultrachromatic landscapes, the hypnotic voyages of Scelsi the illuminated have opened new horizons for cinema and remain a "burning" subject for the most incandescent of creations.

Photos :
Giacinto Scelsi © DR

Affiche de film :

Shutter Island - Martin Scorsese (2010) © Warner Bros.