Jeu de Paume in Paris is closed until 28 September 2024 due to the Olympic Games. Visit our exhibitions in Tours, Reims and Paris Plages.

Online creation


as part of Fourth Worlds

From 01 June to 30 November 2018

Music and Poetry of the Kesh by Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Barton opens the ‘Fourth Worlds’ project presented by Stefanie Kiwi Menrath for the Jeu de Paume virtual space.

« A long, long time from now, in the valleys of what will no longer be called Northern California, might be going to have lived a people called the Kesh »

Music and Poetry of the Kesh is the documentation of an invented Pacific Coast peoples from a far distant time, and the soundtrack of science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. The story of a future tribe of indigenous people living 500 years from now, was told by Le Guin in her book Always Coming Home – a mix of first-person-narrative, poems, recipes, illustrations of instruments, a glossary of terms and hand-drawn maps. Early editions of the book came with a cassette of “field recordings” and indigenous songs; Music and Poetry of the Kesh was the result of the novelist’s work with composer Todd Barton to create an album of unheard language and sounds, for which Barton even built instruments to Le Guin’s design, including a seven-foot horn, the Houmbúta and a bone reed flute.

In 2018 Freedom To Spend reissued Music and Poetry of the Kesh on vinyl and in digital formats.
In January 2018, Ursula K. Le Guin, passed away in the age of 88. In her final months, she had been preparing the re-release of « Music and Poetry of the Kesh » with her musical collaborator Todd Barton and the record label Freedom To Spend.


Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929, Berkeley – 22.1.2018) wrote both poetry and prose. She was best known for her fantasy and science fiction works including the six Books of Earthsea and The Dispossessed. Her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness is considered epoch-making in the field for its radical investigation of gender roles and its moral and literary complexity. Three of Le Guin’s books have been finalists for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

After four decades of exploration Todd Barton is still delving deeply into the ever-expanding frontiers of musical expression: from his DNA-derived Genome Music and scores for plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to avant-garde music for electronic synthesizers and computers and lecturing on music and composition from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century. His compositions have been performed by the KRONOS Quartet, Oregon Symphony Orchestra, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, among others.