'Not A Creature Of Paper', Louise Labé inspired composition for avant-garde ensemble Juice Vocal by Olivia Louvel

I have been commissioned to write for Juice Vocal. It is the first time I am writing for voices other than mine, this is a fascinating experience. So far I have sung the three voices as an aide memoir, but I can’t wait to hear the piece alive on the 19th of October at Kings Place, I hope you can make it. You can book your tickets here https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/contemporary/juice-vocal-ensemble-voices-of-venus/. Also commissioned are electronic music composer Gazelle Twin and multidisciplinary artist Nwando Ebizie.

In the steps of Data Regina, this continues my research into 16th century poetry with iconic figure Louise Labé, probably the most famous female poet of the French Renaissance. The composition will consist of a triptych of impressionistic touches from Louise Labé’s love sonnets, contrasting with an abrasive landscape as well as biographical elements, which will be incorporated in the form of spoken words. 

I am currently preparing a ‘score’, not a classical score. I’m not trained enough to do so, after all classical score was not always in use: it was Guido of Arezzo who laid the foundation for notation as we know it in Western musical notation, besides I write with signals not symbols. So to help the three vocalists navigate my piece, I have combined a guide with text, key musical points and integrating at times screenshots of my Pro Tools session.

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Last night I had tea, in London, with Juice vocalist Sarah Dacey as they are about to start rehearsing and we discussed the fact that researcher Mireille Huchon published a thesis (2006) arguing that Louise Labé was in fact an invention by a group of male writers conspiring to create the idea of a lovelorn female poet. This has been questioned since and personally I simply wonder why a group of male writers would spend time, energy devising such a plot, inventing a female character over an extensive period. Why such a pleasantry? For sure they must have had other tasks to accomplish pursuing their careers. No no no, Louise must have existed, she was not a “creature of paper” but of flesh, of words. 

The three vocalists will embody Louise, “in male dress we ride”, real or enigma. Male, female, a creature of paper? Certainly, a feminist icon, Louise Labé with the self as a double, of multiple identities, is claiming “I am not a creature of paper”.

As you are here, we have launched a Kickstarter, raising funds to complete the project, following a few glitches. Please support us or/and share if you can, there are lots of exciting goodies for backers. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/juicevocalensemble/voices-of-venus-new-music-for-voices-and-electronics?ref=project_link 

Thank you for your help and hope to see some of you at the London show for the premiere at Kings Place!


Louise Labé

Louise Labé