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Thomas Bangalter's New Chapter: From Daft Punk to Orchestral Music

2024

Thomas Bangalter, once half of the iconic electronic duo Daft Punk, has embarked on a new musical journey. After years of blending human and machine sounds with his partner Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Bangalter felt the need to disconnect from technology. He shared his thoughts via Zoom, expressing a desire to dominate technology rather than be dominated by it.

Since Daft Punk disbanded in 2021, Bangalter has observed the increasingly complex relationship between humanity and technology. He described feeling overwhelmed by the omnipresence of machines in daily life. This prompted him to take a radical step away from electronic music and embrace a purely human form of musical expression.

Bangalter's latest project is an orchestral ballet score for "Mythologies," a 90-minute piece commissioned by choreographer Angelin Preljocaj for the Opéra National de Bordeaux. This score, which premiered live last summer and was released as an album earlier this year, marks a significant departure from his previous work. Bangalter, lacking formal training in orchestration, immersed himself in learning notation software and composing the entire piece alone. The score's extensive parts span 600 pages, with the conductor’s version running to 250 pages. He likened the process to climbing a mountain, focusing on completion rather than style.

Creating "Mythologies" allowed Bangalter to find solace in a different form of musical creation. After years of interacting with machines, he found working with a blank notation page soothing. This shift in focus also aligns with the human-centered approach that characterized Daft Punk’s final album, "Random Access Memories." Unlike his past work, this project involved no synthesizers or amplifiers, relying solely on the natural sounds of instruments and the movements of dancers.

Bangalter’s composition carries influences from Stravinsky and Prokofiev, blending refined elements with a sense of grand pleasure. Despite its classical nature, echoes of Daft Punk’s rhythmic motifs are present, maintaining a connection to dance music in a new context.

The decision to explore ballet holds personal significance for Bangalter. His family has a rich history in dance, with his mother, aunt, and uncle all being involved in the art. His late mother was a ballet dancer, adding a layer of legacy to his new work.

When asked abouarious forms.

Bangalter views his current work as a continuation of the craftsmanship celebrated in "Random Access Memories." He sees parallels between the theatrical elements of Daft Punk and his orchestral compositions, both requiring a blend of reality and fiction.

Composing "Mythologies" differed significantly from producing a pop album. While pop music involves extensive time in recording and experimentation, orchestral music demands rapid preparation and limited rehearsal time before performances. Despite the intense schedule, Bangalter found the process rewarding and fundamentally different from his previous experiences.

Thomas Bangalter’s shift from electronic to orchestral music represents a profound transformation in his artistic journey. It reflects his desire to reconnect with human elements in music, honoring his family’s legacy and exploring new creative landscapes.

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