At first self-taught, Michel Deneuve concentrated on the organ and the piano. Then, at 18, he enrolled at the Dijon Conservatoire. After five years of percussion classes, he began studying composition with Alain Kremski and Horia Ratiu, and conducting with Françoise Legrand (Roumanian school).
In 1975, he discovered the Cristal and met Bernard and François Baschet who introduced him to Sound Sculptures.
“In those days, I was seeking new types of sounds with no clear idea of what, except that they wouldn’t be created by electrical or electronic instruments. Synthesizers were starting to take over the planet and I wasn’t keen on that type of instuments.
“As I was listening to a recording by Jacques Lasry “Plein chant”, from the record entitled “Structures Sonores Lasry Baschet”, I immediately felt I had encountered the sounds and the instrument which suited me best.”
Three characteristics of this instrument seemed essential to him :
- The quality and the richness of the tones.
- The glass keyboard where the fingers are in direct contact with the sounds.
- That it was an acoustic instrument (without any electricity or electronics).
Michel Deneuve thus realized that no one at that time could teach him the necessary technique to play this instrument, so he set to work with various goals:
- To develop a technique and a method of playing based on that of classical instruments to master this unheard of acoustic principle ; to let it serve his own, interior music and his musical choices.
- To make known and gain recognition for the Cristal, a full-range instrument which has its place in all musical combinations from solo instrument to symphony orchestras.
- To collaborate with Bernard Baschet and his team to improve the workmanship of the instrument. Until then, the keyboards Jacques and Yvonne Lasry used were vertical, very different regarding the technique and the manner of playing. In 1977, sensing the unexplored potential of the horizontal keyboard Cristal, Michel Deneuve, together with Bernard Baschet, constructed his first instrument to gain a knowledge of how it worked.
Although not yet aware of this fact, he opened a new path among the great family of orchestral instruments.