Introducing Florent Ghys

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Starting Monday, July 26, Q2 shines its spotlight on the young Frenchman Florent Ghys, who is quickly making a mark on the New Music scene, both in New York and abroad. Join us for a special weeklong focus on his music including new, unreleased tracks and a free download of his Hommage à Jacob Ter Veldhuis, available for a limited time.

Ghys is one of a new breed of composer/performers who thrives on performing the music he composes. He creates highly contrapuntal, post-minimalist chamber music showcasing intelligent multi-tracking and inventive use of electronics and sampled speech. On the surface, his music is lighthearted and easily engaging, with whimsical loops and repetitions dancing around each other, creating clever and pleasing rhythms. Acoustic bass lines interweave creatively and buoyantly with layered instrumental tracks, electronics or processed speech. These seemingly simple elements are carefully crafted, however, and pieced together very deliberately. 

When composing music for his EP, Baroque Tardif: Soli, Ghys wrote ensemble music for which he was the only performer, so his instrumentation was limited to the instruments he could play: upright and electric bass, acoustic and electric guitar, voice, pianino and improvised percussion. This pared-down, do-it-yourself method contrasts with the hi-fi, high budget processes that are usually associated with electronic music and the music it yields is both sophisticated and heartfelt.

Florent Ghys' Baroque Tardif: Soli, was released on Cantaloupe earlier this year and two subsequent releases are in the works. Check it out at the Bang on a Can store. His recent New York engagements include performances at the Bang on a Can Marathon and a solo show at the Isamu Noguchi Museum.

Florent Ghys on Florent Ghys

My recent music was mostly recorded in my apartment in Bordeaux, a middle-size and middle-age city full of bourgeois and wine in the south west of France. I usually work at night and use what I can find at home: a nice Laborie upright bass, an electric bass, a cheap and broken classical guitar, dishes in the kitchen, my hands (for clapping!), my voice and voice samples on the internet.

I think composition and performance are really linked and I learned a lot recording music I wrote and writing music I was going to play. With compositional processes, sometimes you can go very far into composition and forget you are writing for instruments. Playing an instrument also gives you perspective on orchestration and playing techniques and it is very enjoyable.

Quoting, copying and sampling pre-existing material is, for me, more a way to demonstrate respect, rather than stealing. Very often when I hear a piece I think, ''this is going to be my next piece''. It gives a trajectory, a goal in the composition and very often the result is actually very different from the original.

Many of my good friends are not musicians and I don't naturally analyze music when I am a listener, so for me it is very important to write accessible music even though I always try to push the border of accessibility to weird areas.

4 by Florent Ghys, film by Isabelle Solas