The Pioneers

"Musique concrète"

By INA grm

Pierre Schaeffer (1955) by Maurice LecardentINA grm

"We described our music as 'concrete' because it is created from pre-existing elements taken from any sound material, whether it's noise or musical sound, then composed experimentally through direct construction, so that ultimately we could fulfill our desire to compose without the security—which becomes impossible—of ordinary musical notation." Pierre Schaeffer

Francis Coupigny, Francois Bayle, Bernard Parmegiani, Pierre Schaeffer (1972) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

The Groupe de Recherches Musicales was founded in 1958 by Pierre Schaeffer at the RTF (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française, the French public broadcaster).

Pierre Schaeffer (1963) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

Its origins go back 10 years earlier, however, to October 5, 1948, the day when Pierre Schaeffer did a radio broadcast of the first "concert of noise"...

... in doing so, bringing about the birth of "musique concrète": a new form of music which was no longer made of notes written on a score, but instead created by manipulating recordings of sounds.

Pierre Schaeffer et ses collaborateurs dans le centre de recherches de la rue de l'Université (1963) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

For 10 years, from 1948 to 1958, Pierre Schaeffer was involved in developing musique concrète by collaborating with various composers to establish the foundations for what was to become the Groupe de Recherches Musicales.

Pierre Henry (1955) by Maurice LecardentINA grm

One of the pioneering composers of that period was Pierre Henry, who in 1950, together with Pierre Schaeffer, composed Symphonie pour un homme seul (Symphony for one man), which is now considered the first masterpiece of the genre.

Pierre Schaeffer (1955) by Maurice LecardentINA grm

The GRMC (Groupe de Recherches de Musique Concrète), active from 1951 to 1958, was the predecessor to the GRM and welcomed into its midst numerous other composers who later came to symbolize this period, such as Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Edgard Varèse, to allow them to discover this innovative approach to sound.

François Bayle (1980) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

In 1958, the GRM was officially established, and it would be the task of a new generation of composers to build on the theoretical foundations of musique concrète, which by this point was known as electroacoustic music or experimental music.

Iannis Xenakis (1967) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

They included the likes of Iannis Xenakis, Bernard Parmegiani, Luc Ferrari, François Bayle, Beatriz Ferreyra, Guy Reibel, and Ivo Malec.

Bernard Parmegiani (1963) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

"We spent hours of wonder in front of record players and tape recorders. Striking a gong, recording its sound, playing it back, first perfectly and then becoming its master, molding it, pulling a whole family of sounds out of it, what new powers!" Pierre Schaeffer. Que sais-je: La musique concrète (1967)

Bernard Parmegiani, Points contre champs, De Natura Sonorum (1975) by Bernard ParmegianiINA grm

Luc Ferrari (1963) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

"Our approach is therefore is different from spontaneous instrumental practice where, […], everything is given at the same time: the instrument, both information and medium of a musical civilization, and the corresponding virtuosity, therefore a certain structuring of the music that is derived from it."
Pierre Schaeffer. Que sais-je: La musique concrète (1967)

Luc Ferrari, Tête et queue du dragon (1960) by Luc FerrariINA grm

Guy Reibel (1967) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

"That is the suggestion of acousmatic music: to deny the instrument and cultural conditioning, to put the sound and its musical possibility right in front of us."
Pierre Schaeffer. Que sais-je: La musique concrète (1967)

Ivo Malec (1967) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

"The tape recorder first of all has the virtue of Pythagoras's hanging: while it creates new phenomena to be observed, above all it creates new conditions of observation. And so we move from 'doing' to 'hearing' through a renewal of 'hearing' by 'doing'."
Pierre Schaeffer. Que sais-je: La musique concrète (1967)

Beatriz Ferreyra (1983) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

This second generation of pioneers contributed to reinforcing electroacoustic music's place within contemporary music by developing its repertoire and diversifying its esthetic outlook, leading to its first "golden age" in the 1970s.

Credits: Story

INA grm - Groupe de Recherches Musicales

Direction : François J. Bonnet
Administration : Jessica Ciesco
Coordination, assistant de programmation : Jules Négrier
Chargé de production : Jean-Baptiste Garcia
Direction technique : Philippe Dao, Emmanuel Richier
Développement GRM Tools : Emmanuel Favreau, Matthias Puech
Développement GRM Player : Adrien Lefèvre
Chefs de projets R&D : Nicolas Debade, Dominique Saint-Martin
Réalisateur radiophonique : Alexandre Bazin
Formations professionnelles, numérisation : Diego Losa

Credits: All media
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