Philippe Hersant’s Hopi and His Explorations of Native American Sounds
In his piece Hopi (1985 [revised 1994]), Philippe Hersant uses the solo bassoon to its full capacity by incorporating various extended techniques in order to create sound qualities beyond its conventional boundaries. In the process, he creates a compositional language that reflects the colors and aesthetics of Native American music, specifically that of the Hopi tribe. Describing the piece as a homage to the Hopi Indians, Hersant asserts that the piece’s main motive is based on a memory of a traditional Hopi melody — a melody he admits has undoubtedly been distorted over time. By observing and closely comparing Hersant’s piece to Hopi musical culture, I will illustrate Hersant’s depiction of Hopi aesthetics.