Jean-Claude Eloy | On “Shânti”

Jan 10, 2023

“Shânti” is a Sanskrit word meaning peace. It is above all Spiritual Peace, the supreme  Peace that yogis strive for; it is also the psychic and emotional peace of the individual. It is political peace and peace found in Nature and the physical elements of the Universe. 

However, for me, no notion can exist without its opposite, its antagonistic counterpart. I mean rebellion and war in the largest sense, from the muffled explosions of a volcano to student barricades … 

Therefore for me, “Shânti” is peace in constant flux (because without antagonism and struggle the world would simply end). It is the dialectic nature of things with struggle and violence. It is peace in the Heraclitean sense. Hence the continual progress, the eternal search for the elusive goal, sometimes glimpsed at and very occasionally attained: the glimmer of eternity … 

It would be a mistake to think that “Shânti” was anyway a stable or continuous peace.  We have to look for it in the sound, in each of the long sequences. The whole form of this music is a slow and permanent spiral, with no limit…[1]

[…] When I began working at the Electronic Music Studio of Cologne Radio, I  intended to realize a short abstract “study” of about ten minutes; a cautious attitude, since the way my life had progressed until then had hardly given me the chance to be in contact with electronics, much to my regret. […]. Having done with the inevitable gropings at the start, I  felt myself more at ease each day in the Studio and I was looking for ever more complex circuits.  

I then noticed that the sounds I was making had a strange power; every time I had searched for a long while and had decided to record a sound to build up a stock of “material”  the clocks of the studio seemed to go mad! I thought I was recording three or four minutes and when I stopped the tape recorders the clocks showed already ten minutes – sometimes more…  The phenomenon was revelatory to me: everything I had discovered in listening thoroughly to  Oriental music (the elongation of time occasioned by the internal fluctuations of the acoustic elements) was being exploded, multiplied, in the electronic studio! This discovery led me to turn my perspectives upside-down. 

[…] “Shânti” does not impose this or that aspect of the world. From the sound masses as  from the fragments of texts which find a place in this work, I do not “choose” Shri Aurobindo  for example “against” Eldridge Cleaver or Mao Tse-Tung: I put them in each other’s presence  as in your presence in just the same way as I put the most diverse sound forces in each other’s  presence. “Everything concerns me”. As Mao Tse-Tung underlines it: Wai Tcheng, who lived  in the Tang dynasty said; ‘Listen ta all sides which enlighten you, but listen to only one which  plunges you into darkness’ .[2]

« Shânti » is dedicated to Karlheinz Stockhausen. 

Jean-Claude Eloy

[1]  Extract of the text written in 1978 for the LPs album “Shânti” published by Erato (STU 71205-6). Translation: Andrew Mc Intyre.

[2] Extract from the text published in the program of “The London Music Digest”, “Round Bouse”,  London, 1975 (English version by Slotover Management, for “The London Music Digest”).


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