"CHANTIER" | Official Trailer

"CHANTIER" | Meeting with Alain Roche



I wanted to work with mechanical, metallic sound sources; raw and repetitive like ostinati, which I am particularly fond of: engine noises, stones and bits of metal falling down, circular saw, etc.

Cinematic sounds, very common but paradoxically rarely associated with music. This search for sounds led me quite naturally towards a construction site. Other elements – the crane, the roughness, the forbidden – fitted well with the project and so the construction site was the obvious choice.

Even in the way it contrasts with the piano, both aesthetically and melodically: roughness and dirt opposed to the shine of a polished piano. This for me, is a way to continue the code reversal and renewal movement which started with PIANO VERTICAL.

The discovery of James Turrell’s work and his skyspace at the Temple Hotel in Beijing at dusk was another trigger for this project. Viewers were completely immersed, placed specifically – lying down, looking up – at a precise moment – dawn and dusk – and urged to take a fresh look at the sky. This was a revelation for me.

This was my inspiration for “CHANTIER”: to sit the viewers in a specific place and space-time, to equip them with headphones so they become completely immersed and involved both collectively and individually, then to invite them to give in to a vertical recital. 

“CHANTIER” yearns to make the viewer feel the need for beauty; a moment, unique, light, without artifice. 

Alain Roche, designer, composer, performer

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The desire to be elsewhere led to composing the piece IMAGINARY SOUNDS OF WALL, inspired by the atmosphere and images of the construction site: sounds, smells, colours, dust. It’s a bit like the beginning of a film when the images are positioned to condition us. 

The construction site is the ideal place for ostinato, this melodic and rhythmic pattern repeated obstinately, like those found in the music of Philip Glass and Keith Jarrett. In Jarrett’s ‘Paris Concert’, the ostinato withdraws after being played at length, but it still remains imprinted in the mind and body. The desire was to find, with “CHANTIER” this feeling, this vibration. 

The main theme only really occurs in the 35th minute but is already present from the 35th second. Other secondary themes are intertwined within the four acts of the piece. Like in dramaturgy, first the scene is set and then the characters are let in. “Taking time” is an essential dimension of this piece, enabled by its 47-minute length. 


Immersion is aided by the addition of construction sounds to the basic composition and by wearing headphones, guaranteeing very high sound quality.

Sounds are collected in active construction sites, real life sounds. Each site is unique, with a specific ecosystem. In certain places, the noise is tiny while in others it is powerful, strident, deafening. Other sounds are difficult to guess like the rolling of wooden spools of electrical cable. These layers of sounds add to the composition, which then adapts to them. 

High quality headphones play a key role in the experience. They simultaneously generate a sensation of isolation and pairing, giving the viewers the opportunity to let go while keeping close to the pianist and his music.


Dusk, then sunrise, then dawn. In between is the blue hour, the period between night and day spilling its colours, its smells, its sounds, its earthiness. Suspended minutes when birds begin their dawn chorus and take flight.

Dawn is a magical moment, full of contrasts, a source of energy both electric and soothing. It allows you to experiment and feel part of the same cycle.

“CHANTIER” aspires to share this moment of awakening with the viewers. Facing dawn requires courage. “CHANTIER” gives them the strength to embark on this experience.

texts © christine.bitz