As it can be understood in the work of any composer, the uniqueness, the unicity, the identity and the path are defined above all by a language that the composer himself creates. It is then logical to see his work as the expression of his language, or a work as the expression of a language. From the music of Alice Orpheus four pillars seem toemerge, and it is these four pillars that we will explore here.


a/ Classical instrumentation

b/ Structure

c/ Themes and motifs



a/ Concrete music

b/Minimalist repetitive musiv (minimal repetitive and recorded tape)

c/Prepared instruments



a/ Aphex Twin as a cumination of noise music

b/ Hyperpop, vocabulary of tension in contemporary pop

c/ Ambient and synth music



a/ Harmonisation

b/ Improvisation


 a/ Classical instrumentation   

 Ao’s music draws its roots in classical music. Its instrumentation is striking proof. In his recorded tapes, a whole part of the instrumentation revolves around the instruments of the orchestra.

In the large pieces that are De la Spiritualité (piano + recorded orchestral tape + screen), Electric Bird I (youth orchestra + recorded tape), Noguchi (piano + recorded orchestrated tape + screen) or Fears  (violin + recorded orchestrated tape), the flute (soprano and alto), the clarinet and the oboe are largely present.

Brass instruments are also used in these four pieces mentioned, notably trombones and horns. percussion such as the marimba (key instruments in Alice’s writing), the vibraphone, the xylophone, temple blocks and timpani are also widely present.

 Let’s not forget that at the center of Ao’s instrumentation is one of his instruments : the piano.

In his chamber music, it is the piano that we find again at the center of his repertoire, but also percussions such as the marimba (How she looked at the sea), strings such as the violin (Fears), or the viola (Underneath).

In 2020, it is exclusively around percussion and keyboards that Alice writes his cycle Paintings three pieces: Sun Rays, Congolese Rain Forest  and Eugene by the sea.

b/ On structure

Given the breadth of forms offered by the classical music repertoire, and the writing of pieces that borrow as much from classical music as from electronic music, the question of structure is at the center of his musical narration.

The sonata form often find itself as as important tool in Ao’s music, such as in the Paintings cycle, or Noguchi.

The desire for more abstract, even permutable forms, is also found at the heart of some of his works. Without care  (oboe + recorded tape) or On the docks (for piano) both obey floating structures.

In Fears (violin + recorded orchestral tape) it is the structural influence of the first movement of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, made up of themes and motifs which follow one another without repeating, which we clearly perceive.

c/ Themes and motifs

Among the foundations of Ao’s musical writing is the notion of themes and motifs, which he studied as much in Wagner as in Beethoven, as well as in Schoenberg and the serialists.

It is particularly from On Spirituality and then on,  that the notion of theme will become dominant. In the repetition of themes and their reharmonizations, there is the desire for Ao to accompany the listener so that he has time to identify each theme as part of the narrative, in the middle of sometimes dense writing.



As some people define it, there is not one music but many electronic musics which, perhaps, has constructed gestures in common, at different moments

in history. The influence of electronic in Ao’s work falls into two polarities: contemporary classical music from the 50s and popular electronic music from the 90s-2020s.

a/ Musique concrète

There are many ways to understand and consider the history of electronic music. The angle that Ao seems to have chosen is that of an era which can be summed up by the disruption of an industrial gesture by using, for musical purposes, machines dedicated to something else.

Today, this disruption of the gesture has been absorbed and digested by the industrial world, which has made a business of it, by producing electronic music tools.

Through the use of these digital tools which are recording software, Alice reuses (as in Electric Birds I & II), the techniques of the French school of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry, by transforming her own recordings, in order to to create new textural materials.

In Electric Bird I, the recorded piano samples are processed in such a way as to produce an almost figurative material which ultimately represents the birds.


b/ Minimaliste repetitive and recorded tape

Like his generation, there was for Ao a before and after Steve Reich / John Adams. The importance that these two composers had, in the repertoire that we would today define as repetitive minimalist music, is unprecedented.

If the elements of minimalist repetition appear clearly in some of Ao’s work, they are more than dominant in Electric Birds I & II

Furthermore, in these two pieces there is the influence of Philip Glass in his deliberately naive relationship to harmony.

Steve Reich’s piece, Different Trains, and the presence of a recorded tape in the final performance, had a major impact on Ao’s work. Indeed, from Electric Bird, working on recorded tapes will become more and more central to Ao’s work.

In Fears (Violin + recorded orchestrated tape), De la Spiritualité  (Piano + recorded orchestrated tape + Screen) and  Noguchi  (Piano + Drums + recorded orchestrated tape + Screen) the recorded tape is at the heart of the compositional process.

c/ Prepared instruments 

It was in Boston (MA) that Ao discovered the repertoire of John Gage and George Crumb and the fact that, prepared piano music, held a significant place in their compositional gesture, as well as in their repertoire.

When he discovered, a few years later, the manifesto of the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo, The Art of Noises, and the piece by Olivier Messiaen, Mode of Value and Intensity, the importance of creating your own textures (as Stockhausen often insisted), became obvious.

Little by little, Alice built his concept of AOKeys: prepared midi keyboards. A first piece, Electives Affinities for Prepared midi keybaord and piano, a second one  Elëments – Part one  (commissioned by French-armenian pianist François Mardirossian) will be created for AOK-4, prepared midi piano, from piano, marimba and vibraphone sounds.AOKeys are taking an increasingly important place it seems, becoming for example the main instrument in Noguchi.


If contemporary classical and modern music has had an impact, regarding the development of textural research in Ao’s work, many electronic music producers have been a source of astonishment and inspiration. Among those, in the latest, two seem to have been a stable influence.

a/ Aphex Twin as a Idm understanding of noise music history

At the heart of his work, it is particularly difficult not to see Aphex Twin as an electronic pop version digested from the experimental research of noise music. How can we not see in the 1975 album, Natura Sonorum, by French composer Bernard Parmegiani, the roots that will allow an album such as Selected Ambient (1992) to be made .

This connection with Aphex Twin as an IDM version of noise music is an influence at the center of Alice’s work in Fra Angelico (electronic music + piano). Noise music is also at the center of Electives Affinities  (AOK-5 prepared keyboard + piano).

b/ Hyperpop, vocabulary of tension in contemporary pop

If contemporary classical and modern music had an impact in the development of the textural research for Alice, the astonishment in front of the hyperpop manifesto Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Inside , first album of the Scottish producer Sophie, is total.

The aggressiveness of the textures, the figurative nature of materials, such as plastic and metal, the excessive use of textures and effects as a mean of tension led Alice to numerous researches which we see appearing from Fra Angelico onwards (electronic music + piano), but also in Stranging (synth + electronic music)

c/Ambient and synth music

Ambient culture sometimes finds its way into the electronic writing of Alice Orpheus. No Savior (synth + electronic music), second track from Fire in particular seeks the transition between electronic and acoustic ambient developing its subject from synthesizers to finish on the piano.




It was during his studies with Ran Blake and Paul Bley in particular that Alice became aware of the creativity that comes into play in the harmonization and reharmonization of themes.

From classic jazz, Alice retains a love for themes that ultimately come mostly from Tin pan Alley. But there is also a true joy in jazz performances that strikes ! And it is in the jazz of the 70s, where harmonic complexity and the development of improvisation systems become compositional, that Alice finds an almost overwhelming inspiration for his writing.

From the themes of Carla Bley, played by Paul Bley, as Ida Lupino, to Facing by Keith Jarrett, from a Summertime played by Ran Blake on a rainy evening in his Boston apartment, to the inimitable harmony of Thelonious Monk, Alice remains marked by this concept that we find naked in its recordings For november (piano + electric bass)

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