Still one of my favorite early pieces, Chant Negatif was written while I was still a student, in 1994/1995, and should properly be interpreted as a 'Song of Denial'. The work is part of a cycle of pieces I was writing at the time, scored for sopranos and different instrumental setups, which also include the works Chant Ascendant and Chant Descendant and are all set to enumerative texts by the French poet Jacques Prévert.
Based on a single, six-note motive which permeates the entire piece in various guises, Chant Negatif proceeds through a long sequence of 'affirmations' and 'denials' - each new 'denial' corrupting the original music more and more as the piece progresses and denying the human voice its entrance for well over 30 minutes.
When the music seems to have reached a point of no return, it suddenly flourishes however and the singer embarks on an exalted ode to the birds. As the string orchestra disappears one by one, her appeal is gradually taken over by a percussion 'machine', consisting of artificial bird sounds and other noise makers - thereby returning the music once again to its 'natural' state of chaos.