Well, here is part two of the interview with Évariste from December 2012, so I hope you have already read part one? Part two is a little more challenging, I would say, as we got down to some scientific content in this part of the interview, discussing protein music and the vibrational frequencies of the elementary particles! I hope you can understand it better than I can, but I am sure you will enjoy it anyway:
Hero Culte (HC): Before you gave up your recording career, you were also involved in some plays or musicals?
Évariste (E): Yes
HC: Did you perform in those or did you just record the music for them?
E: In 1968, yes, I cut a record with two songs I had composed. The record was on sale in Boulevard Saint-Michel at a record shop which was called Chanteclair.
And Claude Confortès was working with Georges Wolinski who had done drawings on the subject of May ’68. He said, “Well, that’s very much like a theatre play; let’s make a play out of it.” And as a matter of fact Georges Wolinski had a relative among the people who were occupying the Sorbonne and this relative made contact; Wolinski had done the drawing for my record cover. And when Confortès saw that in the front of the record shop, he bought it and he liked it, and so he called me and that’s how it went that I was involved in that play, Je ne veux pas mourir idiot – I don’t want to die an idiot – there was even performances in the United States under this title. And I started to be on stage with them; I did it about 150 times, maybe. And it went on because it was very successful, but I received a letter from my physics professor: “What are you doing there? You should be doing physics!” So I stopped then, but the show went on. At that time it played over 450 times, I think. And it was done after that several times more.
HC: I also wanted to ask how you were involved with Hari Kiri and Charlie Hebdo…
E: It was because I knew Wolinski who was doing drawings for them.
HC: But did you write for them?
E: Oh, a couple of articles only – but they supported me – not supported, they helped me… They had the rubrique [column] they called spéciale copinage, and so they put drawings in it about people that they knew and liked who were performing on stage or something like that. But, yes, only a couple of times I wrote for them; and one was a letter in fact.
HC: Can I ask as well, something a little odd, I read somewhere that your records were supposed to be a dialogue between a night bird and a howling reptile?!
E: This was taken from an American newspaper – that’s what that newspaper had said and I recall the sentence…
HC: We weren’t sure what type of howling reptile it was!
E: Maybe I didn’t translate it very well!
HC: As you knew Lucien Morisse and you were signed to Disc’AZ, this means you were on the same record label as Michel Polnareff, did you know him at all?
E: Yes, that’s right! Oh, yes, yes! I quite remember the first two sentences that we exchanged ever – I told him, a little bit whimsically: “Ah! You are the guy who borrowed the chords from the Ray Charles song Georgia On My Mind” and you know what his answer was? He said, “Oh, that’s the guy who in the first sentence he says to me, he talks about Ray Charles – what a great guy!”
HC: Yes, I’m a big fan of Polnareff but it’s quite funny that he won an award for that song, part of which was obviously stolen!
E: Oh, yes, the harmonies but not the melody. And the impression is quite different – Ray Charles sings it in a sad way, and on the contrary there is hope in his [Polnareff’s] song. He has changed it, by taking the same chords, he has changed it. There are many other examples like that, for instance, The Beatles’ Girl is borrowed from Buona Sera, and that is a contrary – Buona Sera is a happy song and Girl is sad. And almost nothing has changed. [Évariste sings part of Girl and then sings part of Buona Sera] That part is completely borrowed, but the songs are completely different. They have made a sad song from a happy song, and Michel Polnareff did the contrary with Ray Charles. He made a happy song from a sad song.
HC: Do you think it was happy? I’m not sure, he was in love with someone who didn’t love him back…
E: It sounded hopeful, yes. And also what is important to the SACEM, the royalties company, are the first eight bars and the melody – and the melody was changed. [Évariste sings “Love Me, Please Love Me, Je suis fou de vous!” and then sings “Georgia, O Georgia!” to demonstrate the difference in mood] The harmonic suite is borrowed, but any rock and roll song does that…
HC: Yes, there are only so many chords and sequences!
E: But it shows that they might have shared something
HC: Definitely – actually, I wanted to ask you about your special guitar – I’ve read about this guitar you developed that, o gosh, I don’t really understand this but it recreates the vibrational frequencies of the elementary particles…?
E: Why is that so, that the elementary particles, their proper frequencies, are on the same musical scale? That’s very surprising maybe for some people. And the guitar was intended as demonstrating how it works. It was inspired by two different cultures – it was first an ordinary guitar but then with sympathetic strings which was… maybe I can show with a guitar [draws a guitar], the sympathetic strings were like that [picture showing strings that cross over the main strings diagonally from bottom left to top right], which vibrate in sympathy. With the strings you fix out the mode, exactly like do re mi fa, but not with temperate chords; with the exact harmonic chords, because it is based then more on harmony.
And then the second thing is, then the frets are gone and replaced by micro frets – one for each string – so that then once you have selected a mode, you depart from equal temperament by sliding the micro-frets a little bit – and if you start in this way on a Hindu mode for instance, sliding the micro-frets to optimize the resonance with the sympathetic strings, it will sound like a sitar; on an Iranian mode it will sound like a santur; and if you start on an African mode, it will sound like kora. So the sound will be very different each time, different from a guitar also, because of the sympathetic strings that will reinforce the harmonics. This was developed with and by the French guitarist Filip Flejo.
And this is exactly the same principle which makes the vibrational frequencies of a particle to be in chords – to make chords. And it shows that there are harmonics in them, which is contrary to quantum mechanics, but these harmonics are as I understood introduced by the subject and means that you may have subject not only in other people but also in animals and in trees and even in elementary particles. And that you can directly relate with.
HC: That’s gone straight over my head!
E: So, I have to say what it means – in medicine when you are sick they give you drugs and you take them but how do you know when you take it that the doctor is not mistaken? Now, if there is a melody which you vibrate with, and which resonates with the molecule there is inside you, then you like the melody. And this way you have a control, whether it is the correct molecule or not. Because it is taking into account the subject.
HC: I read somewhere that you said that the sound sequences you create can affect people quite badly, how or why is that?
E: Ah! On proteodies, not on music. This is because they [proteodies] are very special – proteodies have many things in common with melodies and very often they have bits in common, I can testify to that. Very often you may find when you wake up in the morning with a melody, you don’t know where it comes from, well, in fact, there is a molecule and it is part of a diagnosis and even preventive. And so the musicians are able to heal themselves, and they are able to live longer than the doctors and even longer than the average person.
So the difference is that when you find the molecule which the music comes from, then you have not only the theme of a few notes but the whole molecule of hundreds of notes. So it is proportionately more efficient and also there are differences in the structure – you have harmonic laws in man-composed music; you have melody laws; you have rhythmic laws; but you also have cognitive laws, it is a cognitive activity of mankind. And if you look at it from the point of view of information theory and look at the information content per note, and compare it with the information content per interval, mainly the information is essentially the same when you consider a melody and a sequence of notes or a sequence of intervals. But from the point of view of information theory, if it was random, the sequence of intervals, the information content, should be much bigger because there are more intervals than notes.
The main constraint maybe in music is it’s cognitive; it’s that you can conceive it, you can remember it, because of this property that there is an information inside. In proteodies this rule is replaced by another one; there is one informational bit of difference between information per interval, and information per note, so it’s not random but it’s a different way of going. So you can’t remember it when you hear it, and when you don’t like it it’s okay. But if you like it, you try to remember it and so you remember what is in fact simplified. And what you remember is not somehow dangerous, but when you listen to something you don’t remember, then you don’t master it anymore and so you have to say quite quickly in a few seconds if you like it or not – because otherwise you may get side effects. It may have side effects which you don’t control.
You have in fact a control, that is what is of interest, in that very quickly when people listen to it, it’s even the biggest surprise when listening to them, that one knows that one immediately likes it or immediately does not like it. And when one likes it, then it has a preventive and even a curative effect and with that property that it is a kind of medicine which the subject can handle and control for himself. It’s a drug which you know before you take it or even in the first few seconds, if it fits for you or not.
HC: How far have you got with the plant growth stimulation? Can you grow big plants or massive tomatoes?!
E: Actually there is a company that does that now, and the main thing it is working out is for a vineyard disease, caused by a mushroom which is called esca. And in 2012, there were 52 vineyard businesses who were applying it, and with a drastic reduction in the disease because one molecule of the mushroom is inhibited, is refrained, while another molecule of the grapevine is stimulated; it works well together. So the overall average over the year is about a fourfold reduction of the disease and even this year there was a startling observation that the number of people doubled every year that do it. So in 2012 there were about 26 new ones and 26 who were already doing it the year before, but the effect was significantly stronger for those who were already doing it the year before. Which shows that the plant sensibility has been educated – plants have a memory, of what was before, and those who had the music the year before were better off than those who were doing it for the first time, especially because this year the pressure of the disease was much higher than in other years. So those who had already been educated in this way defended themselves better and had a better response. This is quite remarkable.
HC: What do you do nowadays? Do you just do research, or do you teach?
E: I do some conferences sometimes. I also help the people in that company, and in fact educate other people who learn first for their own health purpose, and also those who work in that field for the application of things in the plant field. It’s an area covered by the patent I filed as it was granted by European Patent Office, that’s why there was a company in that direction. And I feel rather guilty that it doesn’t go faster for the medical side because when I see what it can do… well, one cannot go faster than music.
HC: I wonder if you knew about this book I saw on the internet by Eric Drott called Music and the Elusive Revolution? The reason I ask is because he writes quite a lot about you…
E: Oh! [Évariste looks at print out I have brought with me] I didn’t know it at all, it’s called…?
HC: Music and the Elusive Revolution. I thought maybe you had spoken to him?
E: Do you want to know if it’s correct or not?
HC: Well… it’s just interesting that someone else has found you and written about you. He singles you out for a lot of attention, and it seems to say that although you wrote about May ’68, it was more satirical than anything…
E: Yes, sure. You ask me what connection is there from the songs, to the present work – well there is none, it came from the physics not from the songs, but the compulsive sensitivity helped to welcome the results and of course helps to do the decodings because you need this sensitivity for that. But the way in which it becomes fruitful is the way I just started to explain a little bit earlier, when I mentioned that La révolution was self-produced. In fact in two very different ways, going with the majors or being self-produced, and I just did the same for science. Starting with the majors and then moving on to self-production.
And I got the experience about this from the records and how it went out, and that is how it went in the rise of May ’68.
HC: But you went independent at a very young age, didn’t you? That was brave!
E: It was a concours de circonstances [combination of circumstances], as we say, circumstances – … having suffered from World War II, and having escaped from World War II by a miracle, and then … and then there was a war, so that’s how it went… and also Jewish education, as I explained to you…
HC: Do you miss the music industry now though?
E: The industry, no! And music, well, music I’m so involved in that I really wonder how come not many people are doing it because, you know, there are, I find, two main things on the internet: on the one hand you have YouTube with all the songs we like there; and on the other, you have Medline with all the molecules and the proteins, with their sequences, their amino acid sequences. And there is a one-to-one connection between them. And how is it that not many people are taking the idea of it and trying to understand what is happening? Then when they suddenly have a melody that comes out, I mean then that seems a must for me.
HC: You’ve managed to combine the two now, then?
E: Well, they are connected and every time I hear of somebody who has a bad disease, I say, ah, la la! Well! On the contrary, there are sometimes I’m amazed by the precision of inspiration – for instance, you talked about Jacques Dutronc, he is married to Françoise Hardy, and she became famous with a song Tous les garçons et les filles and the theme of that was what inhibits prohormone-processing protease, you know. And when people become teenagers, specific hormones start to work: so inhibiting prohormone-processing protease will refrain these hormones from being processed to become active, matching quite precisely the words of the song about a teenage girl waiting for the charming prince…
There are other examples like that – the Horshat haeucalyptus song by Naomi Shemer; the 7-note theme on these words is found in a eucalyptus maturase (that is, helping the tree to mature), as well as in a human olfactive receptor and in the proteody that inhibits the common cold virus.
HC: One thing I wanted to ask before we finish, I heard that you were somehow involved in Renaud’s Crève salope?
E: Not exactly, when I wrote that little song La révolution, we had the idea of people singing together in the chorus and so we wanted to issue the text in a few copies, and we needed a typing machine. But I didn’t know at the time how to type. Amongst the people who were occupying the Sorbonne only one person knew – it was Renaud, cos his father was a writer, and he volunteered to type the words of the song. And he did it, and he said, “Well, that’s not difficult I can do this sort of thing.” So this gave him, apparently, the impulse to try and write something himself and indeed he wrote a song. That was how his career happened.
HC: I wondered whether you have any unreleased music tracks?
E: O, there were – I really stopped in the 70’s but was still composing songs for a while, until about 1995. But I must say that since then, every time I have musical inspiration I look for the molecule, which is so much more interesting.
HC: But you don’t mind that these people brought out the bootleg record?
E: Do you have it?
HC: Not here, no.
E: I’ve never seen it!
HC: I think there are only 500 copies or something, it was released independently by a company called NoSmoke Records. On the cover they said that it has everything on it that you’ve ever done, but that’s not true. It just has the first 2 EPs and a single on it, I think. But we have the album – it’s very good!
E: I don’t know the record company, I just saw that it existed on the internet but that’s all I know.
HC: They should at least send you a copy of your own record!
E: It is not with 500 copies that you make a living. Well, happily enough it goes differently, because this year about 30,000 trees were saved.
HC: You could do something to solve the problem with ash dieback!
E: Les frênes?
E: I think it’s a major problem but there are answers for this. And I wonder how dumb I am that the connection is not made and why only a few people know about it and heal themselves with it.
HC: You’ve got a lot of work to do! Before we go, is there anything you would want to share with your fans that they don’t already know about you? Any interesting stories?
E: Should I tell?!
HC: Yes! The story that makes me laugh – well, I got this press photograph of you from America and it had a little bit of a press cutting on the back. And I tried to find the newspaper so I could see the full article, but I couldn’t get a copy – I managed to see a scan though and it said that the photograph of you on the cover of one of your EPs was of you with a urine samples set-up!
E: That’s right! The photographer was looking for a laboratory and that’s what he found. And the funny thing about it is that at that time I had an uncle in Chicago who had devised a new test in urine for some renal diseases and got a patent for it but it took so long to be acknowledged as the official test. It is now the European official test for this. And even worldwide, I think. And it was at that time! Quite funny.
And it was this uncle that made the connection with the patent adviser who helped me for protein melodies.
HC: You’re a scientific family, then, because your brother is a scientist too, isn’t he, or a mathematician?
E: Mathematician, yes. And he has even contributed to this work in the very early 60’s and then worked on something else.
HC: A talented family!
E: But I have seen your paper [Hero Culte: Évariste means this article on here] and as a matter of fact I found that it was different from many things I had seen in terms of talent and enthousiasme. It’s true! Well, I mean it’s not common! And I see that at the end you quote the paper written together with my brother, and a few other people. And it was the one that introduced the idea that certain regularities in the particle masses could correspond to a wave equation, depending on the shape of these regularities. And the first paper about it was that paper we wrote together. And this paper was the origins of my work!
[At this point during the interview the recording machine starts to blink as the energy is running out!]
HC: We’re almost out of energy!
E: We talked too much!
Évariste (aka Joël Sternheimer), December 2012, photograph by David Tinkham of Datapanik Design
– – O – –
Apologies for the abrupt ending of the interview – aside from being late and arriving wet from the heavy Paris rain and being stressed out because of this, I discovered that the recording equipment, fully charged that morning, had somehow switched itself on during the journey from England to Paris and the energy levels were getting low. Thankfully it held out for about 90 minutes so I was very lucky.
I would like to express my sincerest thanks to Évariste for agreeing to the interview, for giving me so much of his time and answering so many questions. I would also like to thank him for the music. Thanks also to David Tinkham for his help, support and the photograph of Évariste.