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cheyenne_h on 08/01/2018 at 09:53AM

FMA Q&A: Yan Terrien

A laser harp, created by Yan Terrien, played by Jean-Michel Jarre. photo via Facebook.

Yan Terrien is a French musician who experiences inspiration for his music all over his life: from mathematical experiments and outer space, to time spent in hospitals, his music is an expression of his mind, body and soul. We find his music compelling, as well as the stories behind his songs. Give our interview a read below: 

 

FMA: Tell us a little about yourself. 

Yan Terrien: My name is Yan Terrien. I am French and live near Marseilles. I was born in 1951 and worked all my life as a show technician. I am self-taught and have learned computers as artists have asked me to create systems for them. I made laser harps, show-control software, giant image projectors, fireworks sequencers, and so on. [Note: the photo above is of a laser harp made by Yan, played by Jean-Michel Jarre.]

FMA: How would you describe the music you make?

Yan Terrien: I make algorithmic music, but, not having the level nor the basics in mathematics, my approach has been empirical from the beginning. The path that I took consists of writing computer code to create sequences of MIDI commands. The method that I used in the albums "Music For Corridors" and "Streaks" was to write JavaScript code in "Max For Live" modules. I wrote scripts that send commands to the MIDI tracks of the Ableton software, and then reworked the recorded tracks to make them sound according to the emotions I wanted to express. When I used this method, I was under morphine treatment for lung cancer, which explains the atmosphere of the album "Music For Corridors." I used the same technique in the album "Streaks" but with less audio effects to maintain a raw piano sound. For example, the song "Bond Band" repeats random arpeggios and the algorithm varies the velocity of each note to obtain a different resonance at each repetition. I also used my scripts to generate random solos in music with a different genre, as in the song "Secret Latch" of the album "Music For Me" (is it Pop ?). 

FMA: How did you start making music?

Yan Terrien: I learned piano when I was young. As a teenager, I was playing bass guitar in a rock band that became "The Rockets" afterwards, a space rock band! 

But I stopped music when I became a father at 22. I started to create computer music in 1984 on a MSX, but the first music software that I wrote on PC, Synthia, was an interface that controlled oscillators. I used it recently to create the sounds of the Thiasyn song. In the 90s I wrote Katorzer, where you had to enter some fancy parameters that created note and velocity loops. It was my first attempt with the method that I use now. At this time, composer Forrest Fang used it in some of his compositions. 

FMA: How did you find the Free Music Archive, and why did you want to put your music on our platform?

Yan Terrien: I was looking for a platform where I could put music with a CC license and where people could download it to use it for their own creations. I was not happy with Soundcloud because, apparently, only musicians go on Soundcloud, it's a closed world. On FMA, people come because they know they can find good music without being sued because they use it.

I like the fact that people can download my music to use it for their own creations. At the moment it's mostly for videos but I dream that my music can be used in a contemporary ballet, I would be overjoyed to see artists dance on my music.

FMA: Tell me about some of the places your music has ended up.

I have created a YouTube playlist with all the videos using my music since I put it on FMA (57 videos since June). 

FMA: Do you have any artistic influences? What or who are they?

Yan Terrien: My influence are multiple. I like all music genres, from hermetic electronics to syrupy classic. But my favorite artist is Ryuichi Sakamoto, for his sensitivity, his eclecticism, his sense of beauty, his aura. He is a master.

FMA: What project are you working on right now (musical or not) that you're excited about?

Yan Terrien: Today my lung cancer has woken up, although it has been quiet for a year now, so I will focus on the treatments. But at the same time I'm looking for a new way to use my computer skills to create music. I try new programs, I explore, something will eventually end up ...

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