Bernard Heidsieck (1929-2014)

Complete Albums / 45 rpm discs

Canal Street (1986)
Trois Biopsies + Un Passe Partout (1970)
Poème-Partition X LP
‘Lettre à Brion Gysin’ (1974)

Various Tracks

  1. Vaduz, Passepartout no. 22 (1974) (12:00)
  2. Sisyphe (1977) 4:05
  3. Canal Street No. 19 (1976)
  4. Poeme-Partition "F" (1960)
  5. Stratimelo (1966)
  6. Poème-partition D4O, or "Art Poétique" (1962)
  7. "Poème-partition J" (1963)
  8. Poème-partition H1 + H2, or "Le Quatrième Plan" (1963)
  9. "La Convention Collective" Poème-partition (1965)
  10. "La Cage" Mécano-poème (1965)
  11. "L'Exercise" Biopsie II (1966)
  12. "Quel âge avez-vous?" Biopsie V (1966)
  13. A Walk in Paris with Bernard Heidsieck (December 19, 1973)

    Charles Amirkhanian walks with French sound poet, Bernard Heidsieck, through the streets of Paris where Heidsieck had recorded the sounds that were incorporated into his composition “Carrefour De La Chausse D'Antin”. Starting outside the bank where Heidsieck worked for many years, and passing past the cafes, prostitutes, theaters, and department stores, the names and sounds of which were included in his long text-sound composition, Heidsieck describes his work and comments on how the city has changed. Part commentary and part travelogue, this interview will be of interest to anyone interested in Heidsieck’s or his home town of Paris France.

  14. Interview with Bernard Heidsieck (May 31, 1991)

    Charles Amirkhanian interviews French sound poet Bernard Heidsieck. Heidsieck delineates what led him to work with tape, and discusses several of his works, including "Respirations et breves rencontres", "Canal Street, No. 5", and "Ravaillac Tu Connais?" (excerpts of these pieces are included in the program).

Track 1 From the LP Futura Poesia Sonora (Cramps Records, Milan)

Track 2 from the LP Fylkingen Sound Text Festival: 10 Years

Track 3 from the LP Dial-a-Poem Poets: Big Ego (Giorno Poetry Systems)

Track 4 from the LP Le Corridor blue (Nimes, 2001)

Track 5 from the LP Dial-a-Poem Poets: Totally Corrupt (Giorno Poetry Systems)

Track 6 from OU 20-21

Tracks 7,8 from OU 23-24

Tracks 9, 10, 11 from OU 26-27

Track 12 from OU 33

About Bernard Heidsieck
by Steve McCaffery from Sound Poetry: A Survey

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.

It is interesting in this regard to read again the manifesto "La Radia" written by Marinetti and Pino Masnada, published in the "Gazzetta del Popolo" in 1933, in which a new art was proposed: "... Immensification of space.... scene universal and cosmic ... pure organism of radiophonic sensations ... synthesis of infinite simultaneous actions... battles of sounds and of different distances... to paint delimt and colour the infinite darkness of the radia... geometrical construction of silence".

In the Heidsieck's texts what one wants to say becomes involved with a collection of commonplaces, of lyrical quotations, which contrast with the technical objectivity of the rhythm. The drama is formed between a will to communicate and the complex automatisim of the responses, between proposition and comment which generates the self-comment that comments on itself: a play of mirrors without exit, the essence of the drama is tautological.

"Vaduz" was commissioned for the 3rd Bourges Electroacoustic Music Festival (1975), where it was commended.

Bernard Heidsieck was born in Paris in 1928. A graduate of the Istituto Politico, he is the deptuy-manager of a large Parisian bank. He has been interested in sound poetry since 1955 and since 1962 in action-poetry. In 1955 the first "Poèmes-Partitions" and after 1959 use of the tape-recorder as a means of composition and retransmission. Between 1966 and 1969 he composed 13 "Biopsies", since 1969 23 "Passepartout."