Cepravoi commissioned a work which held two particular constraints: to marry the images of a silent movie using the archives of the Centre region of France, and to write a partition aimed at an amateur choir, therefore relatively easy to perform. On its own, each of these constraints isn’t really a problem; but the combination of both is more of a challenge. As film music (even if it can exist in its own right) doesn’t have a free rein: it is used for suggestiveness and for the logical sequence of the images. This can sometimes result in an incompatibility between the momentum of the musical content and the simplest of scripts.
Other constraints also became evident bearing in mind that the visual content was linked to regional and cultural heritage, some kind of intimate bond between the musical score and this heritage had to be found.
After much research on writers with a connection to the region, I came across a text by George Sand whose poem « To Aurore », written for her daughter, perfectly suited the three part structure of the film; on many occasions in her novels, George Sand alludes to « briolage », this very particular tradition by the Berry peasants who sing to encourage their oxen. Thus the melody in the piece is based on the characteristic strains used by the « brioleurs », and which is very clearly present in the introduction.
Following a bright and lively section, comes a darker more harrowing second section which corresponds to the religious procession led by the statue of the Virgin Mary: a combination of gregorian chants (Ave Maria, Ave Maris stella, Kyrie, Credo) constitute the essential musical thread of this section, driven by a steady rhythm with a violent climax representing a wooden Christ being nailed to the cross.
A child’s face stares at the camera as the choir lingers on the word « Look ». The third part is a dizzy farandole with the return of the « briolages » tradition where the male voices give a stylised rendition of the rolling of drums.
In the final theme, a soprano voice in vocalise sings the concluding coda. She has the nostalgic task of representing these long forgotten festive traditions, and brought to life today thanks to the magic of film and the musical score: as though for a moment, new dawns have come to illuminate the scenes from a dormant past.