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Souffles Jean Derome

  • Canada Council for the Arts • SODEC

“I sculpt air in a time that we share.
It corresponds with no story, no theatrical script, no silent film — simply, sounds in and of themselves.
The music contains all of the stories and tells none of them.”

Jean Derome

Jean Derome plays: alto saxophone, piccolo, flute, bass flute, as well as about fifty other instruments including: Game calls: duck, seagull, super-seagull, monkey, deer, boar, bear, sad turtledove, predator, wounded rabbit, wild turkey, starling, goose, thrush, partridge, Audubon whistle, trifecta, as well as… voice, asthmatic harp, kalimbas, spring-box, lobster, crackling plastic, flower plastic wrapping, siren, whistle, telephone bells, rocks, bow, Styrofoam, string-drum, “Smiley,” jaw harps, wooden boxes, tuning forks, bells, goat hooves, doll navels, Brazilian whistles, ocarinas, toy trumpet, “Donald Duck,” native rattle, 3D postcard, toy microphone.


  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits


  • 48 kHz, 24 bits

• MP3 • OGG • FLAC



Jean Derome


About Souffles

Though I’ve been dedicated to the flute for 50 years and the saxophone for 35, I have never sought to confine myself to a specialty. Along the way, I have used many game calls and found objects in my practice.

The outcome in sound has always been paramount to me. I am not a crusader for the flute or saxophone, demonstrating how the world of sound can be played on one instrument alone. Though I work daily to expand what I can play on my instruments, it’s clear that there are sounds on a duck call that cannot be produced on a saxophone. Thus, I am an orchestrator who knows which instrument will best produce the sound he seeks. Even if I employ toys or game calls; even if they seem simply and colourfully designed in materials of variable quality, from plastic to fine metal, from rare wood to cardboard; even if some instruments suggest rarefied, high-class contexts while others belong in the recycling bin, none of this is important to me. My eyes are closed and my attention is focused on the sounds they produce.

Circus artists have approached me to integrate my sounds into their clown shows. A sound designer wanted me to contribute to his catalogue by which he represents prehistoric animals. In each of these instances, I have replied that it’s not about that at all. Everyone is in search of tricks and novel devices, but magic is not to be found in tricks and novel devices. My work is absolutely not comic and it’s for this reason that, occasionally, it can be truly comical.

The sounds I produce can make people uncomfortable or make them laugh. They hear cartoons, farts and other ‘impolite’ sounds, animal calls, children crying, conversation… each listener will hear what he or she wishes.

The sounds I hear are stable, unstable, gentle, harsh, precise, imprecise, coarse, smooth, rough, dense, diaphanous, colourful, brilliant, dull, bitter, acidic, intense, percussive, evanescent, bent, twisted, stretched, suspended, short, biting, whispered, resonant, slippery, viscous, calm, agitated…

My art consists of making air vibrate in a meaningful way. Since I generally play wind instruments, it’s with my stomach that I vibrate the air in which listeners bathe. In fact, my whole body is involved: From the diaphragm toward the lungs, larynx, nasal cavities, mouth, tongue, teeth, and lips. From there, it flows to the mouthpiece — either a reed or a whistle, my interface with the instrument, the balance point between my guts and the outside world —and onward to a resonator that propels the sound in the ambient air. Listeners’ ears and whole bodies are set to vibrating.

“I sculpt air in a time that we share.
It corresponds with no story, no theatrical script, no silent film —simply, sounds in and of themselves.
The music contains all of the stories and tells none of them.
I make pure music.
I make impure music.
Pure joie de vivre. Pure magic.
That’s what it’s about and it’s not about that at all.”

Jean Derome [English translation: Scott Thomson, x-20]

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