Les sons comme « signes de vies » : élargissement de l’écoute dans le langage radiophonique, avec Questionnaire pour Lesconil de Yann Paranthoën



This communication aims to appreciate acoustic ecology through a radio documentary that draws inspiration from a Raymond Murray Schafer study, to whom the concept of soundscape is credited. Yann Paranthoën is one of the most sanctified radio producer of the Atelier de Création Radiophonique of Radio France. In 1980, he produced Questionnaire for Lesconil. The piece, based on a collective study lead three years before by the Canadian researcher, tells us about how the inhabitants of this seaside village relate to their environment and its transformations. Its aesthetic is emblematic of radio art which composes with speech, noise, music, and silence to say something about reality in its own language. It is, therefore, a favored medium to explore the sonic environment, and interactions between biophony, geophony, and anthropophony (with Bernie Krause’s words). Beyond an impressionist approach of soundscape, Paranthoën’s piece “takes sounds’ side” to depict human and non-human ways to live in the world “sonically”; and to keep track of them. Through an analysis of the “essay of sensitive ethnography” (according to Pascal Mouneyres in the journal “Syntone”), we shall see how Yann Paranthoën makes audible for themselves – that is to say, in his own words, “as characters” – the own rhythms of voices, meteorological phenomenons, and daily working machines, while stating that this listening results from an active arrangement of the sonic material by the author, who then speaks through the voices of others. Questionnaire for Lesconil also represents acoustic space as a place filled with interactions between men, beings, and things: he describes a situated listening, a knowledge about living with the sounds, a way to receive, decrypt, and name them which is sometimes vital for a fishermen community. Critical about an absolute definition of noise pollution, we incidentally learn that, for Lesconil’s inhabitants, the ship engines sound like “signs of life”. The radio documentary will therefore be linked up to contemporary anthropologies that expand the notion of “sign” in order to explain semiotic relationships between beings beyond symbolic language (according to Eduardo Kohn), but also to the anthropology of sound environment, working on the social building of sound in public spaces (according to Vincent Battesti and Nicolas Puig, and Christine Guillebaud, and the collective MILSON). If radio art has political potentiality, it is because it bears both poetic and scientific attention to the variety of rhythms that lifeforms express, as well as to our ways to listen to them. It can act in favor of a repopulated listening, to think with Marielle Macé, and of expanding the world’s poem, with Jean-Christophe Bailly, which precede or accompany the collective search for modes of action.


Fanny Dujardin follows a university course at the ENS of Lyon, which she enters in 2013 and leaves in 2016 with modern literature agrégation, and at the EHESS (Paris) in 2018. In the meantime, she studies documentary writing and production at the Creadoc master of Angoulême. Her first sound works explore relations between voices, places, and history (Le Désensableur, in competition at the Longueur d’Ondes festival, 2017). Most recently, she works on polyphonic narratives, more directly political, depicting the subjectivity of activists committed in contemporary social movements (La Grande Ourse 2019, also presented at Longueur d’Ondes festival). She receives the SCAM bursary “Brouillon d’un rêve” for a project to come. Simultaneously, she collaborates in various radios including Radio Campus Paris, co-hosts the project Reverberation (podcast broadcasting), and joins the sound art collective Copie Carbone. In 2019, she begins a creative-research Ph.D., at Aix-Marseille University, co-directed by Natacha Cyrulnik (PRISM) and Karine Le Bail (CRAL), with the artistic advice of Mehdi Ahoudig. Her research, entitled “Writing with other’s voices: aesthetics and politics of speech in radio documentary” explores, from a multidisciplinary approach, the technique, stylistic and ethics of the recording situation and the sound writing.