Category / Instrument
Flute (alto and soprano) and piano
for Dominique My and Patrice Bocquillon, in memorium Olivier Messiaen
Arcueil (France)
Dominique My (piano)
Patrice Bocquillon (flute)

Le Fou à pattes bleues


Le Fou à pattes bleues (The Blue-Footed Booby)
On the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific near Ecuador, live closely-knit colonies of blue-footed boobies. In addition to its bright blue feet, this bird has another peculiarity: its song consists of a flute-like harmonic series, with each element being sounded just like a filter sweeping a harmonic series, or even like one of the flexible ridged plastic tubes that are spun in the air to obtain a sort of humming melody. The blue-footed booby is thus, as far as I know, the only "spectral" bird belonging to creation. It seemed essential to pay homage to this precursor.
The flute is the obvious instrument to simulate these harmonic sweeps - they are of course transformed into less elementary musical structures as the piece proceeds. The piano colours, or frames the flute - perhaps of course, in another reference to Olivier Messiaen - evoking various sonic echoes of the blue footed booby habitat: barren, wild, volcanic, but also heavenly islands, where, due to their protection from the intrusion of man, the animals live in a state of primeval innocence.
During the mating season, the male booby waddles oddly and beats his wings to attract the attention of females - his comical and awkward postures are at odds with the subtlety of his song, but make him very popular with tourists. The female sits happily on the fruits of this debauch, emitting a dissuasive horn sound from time to time - this being the only justification for the sparse multiphonics, little pecks that disfigure the flute's otherwise fluid and melodic discourse...
The piece was written for Dominique My and Patrice Bocquillon, in memory of Olivier Messiaen.

Tristan Murail


1 CD Loreley, LY019, La flûte et les oiseaux
Cécile Daroux (flute) and Emmanuelle Bouillot (piano)

1 CD Made from Nothing, MFNKOP002, Songs of a desert bird
Klaus Schöpp (flute) and Yoriko Ikeya (piano)