100 guitars on a drunken boat

“100 guitares sur un bateau ivre” (“100 guitars on a drunken boat“) is an evolutionary project created by Gilles Laval in 2017, composed for 100 electric guitars.

The particularity of the project is to propose to each new “stopover” in a new city, a re-creation by calling on musicians and local structures.

It is a co-construction and learning project for an “eco-poetic” creation on the theme of the ocean. Based on the french poem of Arthur Rimbaud, electric guitars – popular instrument – are used in all possible forms, to explore a contemporary writing dedicated to this creation.

« Dans les clapotements furieux des marées
Moi l’autre hivers plus sourd que les cerveaux d’enfants,
Je courus ! Et les Péninsules démarrées
N’ont pas subi tohu-bohus plus triomphants. »

— Rimbaud, “Le Bateau Ivre”, dans Œuvres complètes [Poésies (1870-1871)], Paris, Flammarion, 2010 (p. 130).

Beyond the music, this project hopes to create lasting links between musicians of all fronts. It invites them to collaboratively work as a team and encourages them in taking further initiatives for exploring other creations and musical encounters.

Demanding and playful at the same time, the project uses new media such as video and web-based tutorials to invent new forms of transmission, and new forms of writing usable by all.

The creation

The creation brings together 100 electric guitarists of all ages, all aesthetics and all levels around an extraordinary journey to build trust, fun and tangible results.

The concert(s) at the end of the course take place outdoors: the 100 guitarists are distributed on the 4 scenes representing the 4 cardinal points, the audience is at the center in sound and visual immersion.
A night version is also possible.

Between rock and contemporary writing, sound research and improvisation, this piece transports spectators into a dreamlike world where captivating melodies, noise passages, aquatic universes and note storms intertwine.

Throughout the manufacturing process and between the rehearsal sessions, each participant can, whatever his level, find all the information necessary for the realization of the project on a resource website dedicated to the creation (audio recording, video, tutorials…).


The project is aimed at both amateurs and experienced or professional guitarists.

The writing has been thought through to make the piece accessible to as many people as possible.

The two constraints to register are to have some guitar and/or musical experiences in all kind of backgrounds, and to be autonomous in terms of equipment (a guitar, an amp, a saturation pedal). 

Orality being more important than writing in popular music, we have designed a transmission system dedicated to this project, which may be suitable for reading or non-reading musicians.

A website dedicated to the project as well as a youtube channel are updated at each re-creation. Each participant can find at any time during the construction of the project, all the resources necessary to learn from the different parties via these two media.

Specific terminology

The theme of the ocean and the link to Rimbaud’s poem are omnipresent, particularly in the titles of the songs, and in the nominations of certain passages, thus inviting participants to an aquatic and poetic immersion.

Also to simplify the exchanges between the participants, we have chosen some specific terms:

“The skippers” are the people who lead the groups in collaboration with Gilles Laval, during rehearsals and concerts.

The “hard core” is composed of 15 to 25 guitarists co-opted by the partners and the skippers. This is one of the constituent elements of this project: they become referees in the second part of the project with the creation of the 4 groups in which they will be divided.

More about the oceans

The oceans cover about 70% of the Earth and account for 97% of all the water on the planet. Water is an essential part of life, the oceans are places of (still) extraordinary biodiversity. Oceans are also responsible for half of the oxygen we breathe, they are a source at the base of our food chains, and an energy resources now become more urgent to save.

At the same time, and in an absolutely significant way, we reject in these same oceans wastewater, garbage (we are talking about a 6th continent of plastic in the Pacific!) and industrial waste.

For example, see the 2016 UN report: A Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects (Regular Process), eg. the summary, its intro p. 1 and the 10 major themes pp. 7-10.