Daniel Caux > books > radio > curator > press > biography


Le silence, les couleurs du prisme et la mécanique du temps qui passe
(Silence, the colors of the prism and the mechanics of passing time)


Editions de l’éclat - 2009
Michel Valensi editor
Collection Philosophie imaginaire

400 pages
ISBN-10 : 2841621979
ISBN-13 : 978-2841621972

A book CD. A collection of essays by Daniel Caux accompanied by a CD of a broadcast from the Atelier de Création Radiophonique - France Culture: “Daniel Caux from A to Z”, a radio show by Philippe Langlois.


> read an excerpt       > available @


Back cover:

Musicians of the second half of the twentieth century, from John Cage to Richie Hawtin, passing through the American minimalists, free jazz, and some unclassifiable artists and visionaries, know what they owe to Daniel Caux’s creative and generous ear. A trafficker of sounds, a caravanist of nomadic music, he brought to our ears the chorus of his enthusiastic discoveries. Starting in the late 60s, he dedicated himself to championing all those who have drawn today’s musical landscape and to getting them heard. His writing, always well-founded and precise, was a daily companion of this musical adventure: articles, liner notes, programs, broadcasts for France Culture and France Musique, the texts collected here are a living history of a century of sound put to music by the musicians themselves.

John Cage, La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Charlemagne Palestine, Louis Andriessen, Urban Sax, Cornelius Cardew, Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, Glenn Branca, Arvo Pärt, Michael Galasso, Alan Lloyd, John Adams, Peter Sellars, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Milford Graves, Sunny Murray, David Murray, Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson, Nina Hagen, Alkan, Léon Theremin, Harry Partch, Conlon Nancarrow, Moondog, Luc Ferrari, Eliane Radigue, Thom Willems, Iannis Xenakis, Sonic Arts Union, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, David Berhman, Gordon Mumma… and techno.


Introduction :

“I refute our Western musical hierarchy that, based on vestiges of outdated colonialism and old and questionable political ideologies, concocted a scale of aesthetic values on top of which Western music was placed above all others, recognized as serious and complex enough to occupy this position. I like conceptualization and even adopt it, but for me, it is not the only criterion through which we must approach musical creation. I can’t accept the fact that humor and emotions are excluded, which isn’t the case with other art forms. I can’t accept the fact that Eric Satie can be regarded with condescension. I refuse to let Jazz, Indian music, African music or Arab music be treated as minor music, whereas John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Ravi Shankar, Oum Kalsoum bring more to music than many of the followers of so-called contemporary music, who are in reality nothing but reflections of reflections, of reflections…”

All that Daniel stood for is summed up by this elemental viewpoint, and when I had the pleasure of meeting him – being myself drawn to “extreme” music – I was able to share with him, on a daily basis, a vibrant, active, exciting and fascinating musical universe.

Together, we contacted John Cage – regularly criticized at the time – and interviewed him in French, which appears in the early pages of this book. That same year in 1970, Daniel brought La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Sun Ra’s Intergalactic Research Arkestra and the free jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler to France for the first time for the “Nuits de la Fondation Maeght.”

During the same period, encouraged by Delfeil de Ton, he launched a column dedicated to Arab music under the title “Ali Charlie” in the irreverent Charlie Mensuel. That's when we began traveling in North Africa to collect, with our first tape recorder, examples of "popular" music (before they became "world music"), which culminated in the “Journées de Musiques Arabes” organized with Alain Crombecque, Patrice Chereau and Catherine Tasca at the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre in 1984 and 1985.

Daniel was not a "musicologist" in the classic sense. He was rather a musical activist who welcomed, analyzed and defended, from their very beginnings, all forms of new expression, whether free jazz, minimalism, post-minimalism, raï or techno. He didn’t stick exclusively to music either, since he had started as a painter.

He would simply define himself as “someone who fought for music for several decades.” All those who knew, read or listened to him, know how it truly was a “fight” throughout all those years.

I still remember his first unbridled discussions with André Francis and Lucien Malson of France Musique about free jazz. They were very hesitant about this aesthetic and yet invited him to come to the radio to talk about it.

Moreover, Alain Truttat, who had just created the “Atelier de Création Radiophonique,” suggested he include American minimalist musicians on the program, even though they were totally unknown in France at the time. Within this same framework, Daniel was able to produce many of his 2-hour programs of formal research, which allowed for an in-depth study of his subjects.

In addition to these radio adventures, which then gave him the opportunity to create his own broadcasts on a regular basis, writing occupied an increasingly important place in his life, and yet never resulted in a book. Once again, it was a question of acting immediately in order to diffuse what had just been invented. Articles followed in Combat, in L’Art Vivant, founded by Aimé Maeght, in Jazz Hot and Jazz Mag, encouraged by Françoise Buin and welcomed by Michel Le Bris and Patrice Blanc-Francart, in Art Press by Catherine Millet, in Le Monde etc. A selection of this material is reunited here, which, in retrospect, constitutes the opus of an entire lifetime.

His arguments in favor of repetitive, or “machinic” music as Daniel called it, did not leave Félix Guattari indifferent. Thus, in 1969, he prompted Daniel to join the Université de Vincennes, and later to continue his lectures at Paris-8 Saint-Denis. I still come across many of his former students who describe him as arriving – always late, always in a hurry – carrying a bag overflowing with audiotapes that our musician friends had sent him and that he was eager to share.

Also at Vincennes, he met Georges Lapassade, with whom he had long conversations about trances or ecstasy. According to them, concepts related to these altered states of consciousness had to be acknowledged when talking about music.

In 1971, at the Festival d'Automne in Paris, he organized the first concerts of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Meredith Monk… This collaboration lasted for many years and was renewed under the leadership of Alain Crombecque in 1992.

His interest in the “singularly misplaced or untimely,” as he liked to call them, never diminished. They are reunited in Part Five of this book: Léon Théremin, inventor of Thériminvox, Charles Valentin Morange, called Alkan – possibly the first composer of “repetitive” music – Conlon Nancarrow and his music for player piano, Harry Partch and his sound sculptures, Moondog, “the heavenly hobo” as Anaïs Nin called him. But also Spike Jones who conducted his orchestra with a revolver… This possibly prompted Daniel to create in Paris, with the help of its founder, Gavin Bryars, the “Portsmouth Symphonia Orchestra,” an orchestra whose only strict rule was that the musicians play, as well as possible, the standards of classical music with an instrument they didn’t usually play.

Thus, between radio, writing, teaching and organizing musical events, his passions were refined, deployed, shared and transmitted.

Most recently, Steve Reich told me to what degree he was a valuable interlocutor for musicians of his generation, and Terry Riley spoke of his “radiating joy”… this radiance that, just hours before he died in July 2008, gave him the strength to say: “Rejoice every morning… You know, that’s all we have.”

Jacqueline Caux


Editor’s introduction:

From John Cage to Richie Hawtin, passing through the American minimalists, free jazz and some unclassifiable artists or visionaries, musicians of the second half of the twentieth century know what they owe to the creative ear of Daniel Caux. And thanks to him, we listeners were able to fine-tune our ears and our hearts during the richest hours of this resounding century.

This book reunites a number of his texts and interviews published in various papers and volumes between 1969 and 2008. He shares forty years of discoveries and enthusiasm with us through these articles (in Art Vivant, Art Press, Le Monde, Nouvel Observateur, etc.), his broadcasts (for France Culture and France Musique), the concerts he organized (at the Fondation Maeght, at the Halles de Baltard – Ah! like Moses parting the Red Sea, Sun Ra opened the ranks of Parisian riot police! – at the Festival d’Automne, etc.), and through the records he published (at Shander, or more recently, at Shiiin and Elison Fields) for which he wrote the liner notes down to the last comma with the precision of a goldsmith and a measure that was only matched by the definite excess of what he was trying to convey.

Daniel Caux himself had begun to prepare this edition shortly before his disappearance, but was unable or unwilling (?) to bring it to completion. Continuing his work until the very last breath probably seemed more important than looking back. His supreme generosity of always “giving more” went hand in hand with the fundamental necessity of not being satisfied with what he had already accomplished. He was a “musical activist” above all, as Jacqueline Caux writes here. She accompanied him throughout this adventure, and today she continues this work they began together.

He had planned to partition the book into six sections and collected a certain number of articles for each one. We respected these partitions, added some unpublished texts and interviews, and for certain musicians, we opted for a “remix” of several articles to avoid repetition. We prepared a discography that could not be exhaustive, and included some notes to clarify the context of certain articles.

We would like to thank everyone who made this book possible, above all Jacqueline Caux who followed its development on a daily basis. Our acknowledgements to the various publications that originally published these texts; their references appear at the top of each article.

On behalf of Jacqueline Caux, we would also like to thank Ngoc Suong Gras for giving us access to the photographic archives of Philippe Gras, Christian Rose who helped us complete the iconography with his own photos, and Patricia Farazzi who participated in this edition.

This volume is accompanied by a CD that includes a complete radio broadcast by Philippe Langlois, conceived by Frank Smith, and programmed on France Culture in the framework of the Atelier de Creation Radiophonique on October 5, 2008 entitled “Daniel Caux from A to Z.” It was our duty to give voice to these 400 pages of paper, and we thank France Culture (Philippe Langlois and Clarisse Dollfus), the INA (Béatrice Montoriol), the SCAM (Eve-Marie Cloquet), the SACEM (Olivier Bernard) and all the musicians on this CD, and the record labels that made this project possible.

Michel Valensi


Press :

> Arc-en-sons - Mouvement - march / april 2013
> Les prismes de Daniel Caux - par Francis Marmande
Le Monde - mercredi 13 janvier 2010 - n° 20208