Les sept jours (1977)

Walter Boudreau

eight percussions

The title of this work, Les Sept Jours or The Seven Days, refers to the seven mystical steps through which the world was created according to sacred texts attributed to the mysterious Mu Empire. This continent disappeared some 50,000 years ago following a cata-clysmic event that put an end to a brilliant and longstanding civilization. Reading through this narrative, I was struck by its similarity to the story of Genesis. As a story that must be interpreted on a symbolic level, this text is almost certainly an archetype that represents a myriad of local variants found in all the world’s major religions.

This work is divided into seven large sections of decreasing length. Each section is also divided into two parts. A simple principle guides the form: the keyboards (which have “fixed” pitches) alternate with the other instruments (which have “indeterminate” pitches). The musical narrative is at once a form of depiction, an internal vision, pure speculation and fantasy. Generally I highlighted rhythmic dynamism through the systematic creation of tension and relaxation, which I produced by layering various tempi. The choice of timbres is not only subordinated to the larger lines of the musical narrative but is also supported by the work’s rhythmic structures. This piece develops organically from a matrix of elements that gives birth in turn to other matrices, which then continue the process. Thus the whole takes the form of a tree in which all the elements, as diverse as they may be, become musical parents to varying degrees, because they are all born of the same seed.

In sum, the creation of “our world” may be thought of as one of many phenomena that unfold in the infinite cosmos, in which entire galaxies are born and die each instant; but it is unique in that it is realized in the image of our own existence. From this angle, Les Sept Jours embraces much more than the simple birth of our infinitesimal globe at a given moment, in a tiny corner of some galaxy. It breathes with the fascination of a living being struck by the mystery of life, of birth and death—of rapture fed by a theoretically banal event that has become the subject of this creation story. This work is dedicated to the McGill Percussion Ensemble, which commissioned the work with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

  • Recording: available at SMCQ’s office