Les voies du saxophone, a book by Claude Delangle

Les voies du saxophone, l'ouvrage de Claude Delangle
Les Éditions  du Conservatoire de Paris present the tremendous story of the career of one of the greatest saxophonists in the world, who created or commissioned hundreds of contemporary musical works and revolutionized the repertoire of the instrument

Claude Delangle

World-renowned soloist and pedagogue, Claude Delangle is a living legend in the world of the saxophone. His book is an assessment of his trajectory as a musician, at a time when the saxophonist is ending his career at the Paris Conservatory while being engaged in multiple artistic projects.

In dialogue with musicologist Lucie Kayas, the musician discusses his beginnings with the instrument, his work with composers (among others Berio, Boulez, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Scelsi, Stockhausen, Denisov), his artistic collaborations, his relationship to education...

“I very early felt my responsibility in developing a quality repertoire that really takes into account the specific acoustics of my instrument. Creating for myself and transmitting to posterity, with a certain historical awareness, gave direction to my musical activity. [...]

When I was appointed to the Paris Conservatoire in 1988, this awareness of responsibility for the development of a high-quality repertoire was suddenly joined by the weight and perspective of the history of the saxophone there, and its influence on the development of schools in many countries. When I was a student myself, certain key works were overlooked: Villa-Lobos's Fantasia - because it was written for an instrument other than the alto saxophone - Paul Hindemith's Trio - because we didn't work on chamber music other than the saxophone quartet and piano duet - or Erwin Schulhoff's Hot Sonate - because we played almost exclusively the French repertoire - or even Debussy's Rhapsodie - which didn't emphasize instrumental virtuosity enough! It was a real frustration for me.”

Claude Delangle also tells us about the history of the saxophone and instrument making through his role at SELMER. As a tester and acoustic consultant for the company for over 30 years, the saxophonist has participated in the design of several instruments and accessories, including the Series III saxophones, the Supreme alto and of course the Claude Delangle mouthpiece.

“The tester's flexibility in terms of sound aesthetics enables him to judge in a more global and nuanced way the improvements that must imperatively be made to win over musician, or sometimes to identify thresholds of evolution that must not be crossed. Patrick Bourgoin and I have always felt the weight of a great responsibility towards the profession, the history of the manufacture and the smooth running of the company [...].

Each parameter is scored according to a pre-established grid. Emission of the different registers, tuning, projection, homogeneity, flexibility, richness of timbre. The average of the scores for each of these parameters is weighted by the tester's overall perception score. The instrument may have a superb average score for all parameters, but the musician's overall perception may be mediocre. This overall score is freed from objective parameters and balanced with subjective sensations that are difficult for the instrument maker to identify. [...]

I've sometimes taken big risks. At a concert in Ljubljana, I remember playing a mouthpiece prototype that didn't work. Until you go on stage with a piece of equipment, you don't know exactly what it's worth. I discovered possibilities I'd never noticed when I first played the Supreme in public. The concert remains the place for experimentation, the test of validation by the fire of the stage."

The interview continues on the ground of the performer's body, and ends  on a more philosophical and spiritual level…

A deep dive into the world of the artist who revolutionized the repertoire of his instrument and left an indelible mark on the history of music.