“Isophone” is defined as a phonetic feature shared by some but not all speakers of a dialect. The musical equivalent might be a sound shared by some but not all instruments of the same type. It’s a fitting name for the duo of Rosa Parlato and Claire Marchal, two flutists whose music arises at the sonic crossing points and divergences of their instruments.
Both artists bring substantial backgrounds to their collaboration. Parlato, originally from Italy and now resident in France, was trained at Rome’s St. Cecilia conservatory and has performed music ranging from electroacoustic improvisation to the “chamber noise” of the Wasteland quartet. Marchal has participated in multi-modal collaboration with visual artist Céline Boinnard as well as in the Baroque and modern flute duet Melle GLC with flutist Elodie Frieh.
On Bise, Parlato and Marchal demonstrate a close improvisational rapport. Their voices are highly mobile, darting back and forth between foreground and background: one may play a repeated note or simple rhythmic figure while the other layers elaborately crafted melodies on top, before both converge on a microtonally separated drone or braid rapid flurries of notes around each other. Their improvisations are essentially melodic but with the balanced integration of extended technique and voice for timbral shading and contrast. The collective sound always seems directed toward a center—a tone or short melodic or rhythmic motif acting like an attractor or a center of gravity—but for these two creative voices a center is ultimately a point of departure rather than a state of rest.