Pierre Henry

Studio Son/Ré

august 1982 - september 1996

Admin Image

Pierre Henry, the oldest living DJ ©  Cover of Citizen K magazine


At the beginning of the 1980s, Pierre Henry is faced with the obsolescence of Studio Apsome's equipment. The Ministry of Culture, under the leadership of its new director of music and dance Maurice Fleuret (a contemporary music enthusiast and early fan, as critic for the Nouvel Observateur newspaper and director of the Lille Festival) came to the composer's aid in creating the new organisation Son/Ré (Son et Recherche Electroacoustique - Sound and Electroacoustic Research) in 1982.

The studio, now reserved for pure composition, is completely renewed with 9 Telefunken tape recorders, a 30-channel EMT console, 13 microphones and a digital system (5 DAT), etc. The team around Pierre Henry grows and sees the arrival of Bernadette Mangin (musical assistant) and Jean-Paul Léglise (installation and maintenance), associated first with the concert sound system of Prosonor (1982-1984), then of La Boîte à sons, from 1985 to 1989. Isabelle Warnier is now in charge of administration and production, while Étienne Bultingaire, sound engineer, is added to the close circle that accompanies the composer during concerts. A fruitful collaboration with the Research Studio of German Radio of Cologne (WDR), directed by Klaus Schöning, led to the creation of a series of Hörspiele (radio compositions). This includes La Ville/Die Stadt (1984), which was reworked into a film music a year later for Berlin, symphonie d'une grande ville, a silent film by Walter Ruttmann from 1927. In addition to his radio creations, Pierre Henry is working on a fresco of more than five hours based on Victor Hugo, called Hugosymphonie - premiered in Strasbourg, then Lille, Metz and Paris between September and December 1985. With the collaboration of Bernadette Mangin, he switched from magnetic tape to digital tape in 1988, then to DAT (Digital Audio Tape) in 1990: ‘DAT gave me a preliminary vision of the music I would compose. Music heard before it was made’ (*).That is how a new digital sound library is established from the analogue directory: the selection and tracking of the sound is now perfectly concise and accurate thanks to the time code which fixes the duration. His imagination grew tenfold and an intense period of composition followed, including La Dixième Symphonie de Beethoven (Beethoven's Tenth Symphony 1986), Cristal/ Mémoire I and II with the voices of Heinz Bennent and Hanna Schygulla (1988), Le Livre des morts égyptien (The Egyptian Book of the Dead 1988), eight hours of radio drama named Maldoror/Feuilleton (1992) and L’Homme à la caméra (The Man with the Camera) for the Dziga Vertov film (1993).

(*) Pierre Henry – Variations pour une maison et quelques soupirs, Geir Egil Bergjord, La Maison de sons de Pierre Henry, Lyon, Fage Éditions, 2010, p. 200.
Admin Image Admin Image
Pierre Henry working, studio Son/Ré, Paris, 1985 © Guy Vivien
Pierre Henry in his studio on the rue de Toul, Paris, 1986 © Bernadette Mangin/Private collection Pierre Henry
Admin Image Admin Image
Studio Son/Ré, 1987 - Luc Verrier © Son/Ré
Part of the 'sonothèque' (sound library) © Philippe Ayrault/Île-de-France region

 YouthStudio d’essai - Studio zéroApsome 1 - Apsome 2 - Apsome 3 - Son/Ré - Maison de sons