GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: snyprrr on May 04, 2009, 12:57:44 AM

Title: The (((Electro-Acoustic))) Thread
Post by: snyprrr on May 04, 2009, 12:57:44 AM
This started as a Thread about the postwar French Avant Garde, but at this time has transformed into the Electro-Acoustic (("Thread")). The previous Thread follows in its entirety:

Is Boulez the mostest French Composer after Messiaen?

Dutilleux has his own thread, and seems like an outsider to the mainstream of the PompusDudes Centre.

The composers I'm interested in, but whose cd representation is sorely lacking, of which I have heard not a note, would include:

Gilbert Amy
Claude Ballif
Gerard Masson
A. Bancquart

Ph. Boesmans (not Fr)
Ph. Manoury

Dusapin- HIM, I know...
Eric Tanguy
N. Bacri- HIM, I know a little...

Then Aperghis and Mache I know a little more...

And then finally I lump Jarrell (not Fr), Monnet, Levinas, and Durieux, all of which I know some...there is an incredibley large series of cds with the French title "Music of our time"(Lindberg, Nunes, Murail, etc), you know? Maaany more names.

I'm leaving Grisey and the spectralists alone from this survey, but feel free to comment here too, since it IS applicable.

But still Boulez leads the pack?

Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: some guy on May 04, 2009, 10:42:12 AM
In a word, electroacoustic.
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: Dax on May 04, 2009, 10:51:43 AM
So why haven't you mentioned Jean Barraque?,10955.0.html
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 04, 2009, 08:33:52 PM
I was juuust putting the Piano Sonata on! Ha

I have the Henck/ECM and the Mefano/Concerto disc. The latter disc I got many years ago and Barraque seemed like such an enigmatic character (I didn't know Scelsi or any of this stuff back then). The ECM disc really was a revelation, linking with Boulez and Stockhausen (I'd love to do a modern piano thread!). Honestly the reason he slipped my mind was because he wrote no SQ, and I was going off a "Want List". ;DCaught me! I'll go modify...
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 04, 2009, 08:39:45 PM
Not letting me modify...strange?
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 04, 2009, 09:05:32 PM

Whenever I see that word I know that large $$$ are not far behind!

I had a few of the earlier cds in that "Music of our Time" series, and I can't believe I sold them, but I saved Murail. He just had the "best" sound (love his guitar piece Tellur). So much of the IRCAM stuff I've heard just...hurt my ears! Do you know what I mean? A lot lot lot of my composer disappointments have occured under the category "electroacoustic." I was wondering if Manoury or Tanguy fell into this category.

I would love someone make a chart of the different ways electroacoustic principals can be applied.

I WAS curious about Claude Ballif. He was there in the 50s (he even slightly looks like Boulez!) and appears to be another French maverick.

And Gilbert Amy seems like a major figure, but I can't find anything to listen to.

Listen, there was a cd on the MFA label which was an "hommage" to one of these "lost" avant composers who died young. Anyone know it? Also, a cd on the same MFA label called "ouveres polychromatiques," a 2cd spectral retrospective?
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: some guy on May 05, 2009, 02:32:41 AM
IRCAM's not the only game in town, nor the first. It's relatively recent, actually. GRM was first (1951), and several major other studios had opened around the world, and been very busy, long before IRCAM (1977).* It's somehow gotten the press, though, so anyone who hears about new music from any other source than a new music source will only hear about IRCAM.

Try to find some stuff from GRM, the original electroacoustic studio, founded by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry. And from IMEB (1970).

Francis Dhomont was a pioneer, exploring independently of Schaeffer and Henry at around the same time (possibly earlier). Since he went to Montreal, you might also want to check out the (French) Canadian Reseaux group at Montreal (label is emprientes DIGITALes).

IRCAM's contributions to electroacoustic music have been very tangential, inconsistent, questionable.

*See ( for a brief mention of Boulez's visit to the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht in 1972 or 73. The institute was founded in 1956 inside the Philips studios in Eindhoven and split off in 1960, moving to Utrecht.
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 05, 2009, 10:01:32 PM
some guy, I was hoping this wasn't going to happen, but now I HAVE to get to the bottom of this nagging word "electroacoustic."

This is like a religious discussion for me, because every word needs to be defined and agreed upon by all parties so that we can understand each other.

I thought "electroacoustic" is where you have an "acoustic" source (violin) manipulated by an "electro" situation (mic<computer<speakers).

What is a plain tape recording called? Is it "electroacoustic" simply because it needs speakers to be amplified into an acoustic space so that we can hear it?

Is violin+plain tape also "electroacoutic"?

I thought most all of the 50s stuff was "just" tape.

When I think of "electroacoutic," I think about acoustic instruments manipulated by LIVE electronics, meaning there is usually always another warm body present (Nono+Richard). Of course, with Nono's violin+plain tape+live manipulation of plain tape, that adds more confusion for me.

Violin+contact pick-up<speakers. That's just "electric," right? Like Crumb's Black Angels is for "electric" string quartet?

So, what's "electronic"? I used to have a guitar synthesizer. I remember at the time it was called an "electronic" guitar.


Is that right?

Am I overcomplicating the issue?

I just can't abide in a world where a simple "plain tape" piece and a piece with "live instruments with live computer manipulation" are allowed to have the same word. :-\ :'(

The thing that gets me though is that no matter all the different things these people have come up with over the years, what ends up hitting my ears has a lot of sameness factor to it, "oh, that's a computer sound." sometimes they trick me, though (like Murail).

I liked to think I knew my computer music history, but I can't tell you what the first instrument<mic<computer<speaker masterpiece was. I MUST have listened to Henry, Subotnick, Wuorinen, Babbitt, Pousseur back in the day, and I remember that nifty book, "New Sounds," but so much technology has turned me off, but I know that now is probably a golden age for this stuff, and I'm not going to deny I haven't heard some interesting pieces.

Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: some guy on May 06, 2009, 12:20:16 PM
snyprrr, unfortunately the world of terminology is a messy one. Attempts to straighten it out usually end up making it messier.

But I'll give it a whirl: while electroacoustic looks like it should mean acoustic sounds that have been manipulated in some way (some of them just by doing something with a piece of magnetic tape, like runniing it through the machine backwards--so not electronic at all), it's actually been the umbrella term for all the various things that use electrons and electricity--acousmatic, soundscape, electronic, musique concrete and so forth. In Europe, anyway. In the US, until quite recently, the word electronic was the umbrella term. Now most American organizations use electroacoustic. And the two terms can still be found used interchangeably, in spite of the fact that electronic has meant (in Europe) sounds produced by electronic equipment.

For awhile in the fifties the distinction between "produced" (German) and "manipulated" (French) was an important one, but almost immediately Varese and Stockhausen both were making works that used both electronically produced and electronically manipulated sounds.

Your example of live sources manipulated by a computer is one way to do instrument +. There are also instrument + tape (or CD, now, though many people prefer to use the word "soundtrack," probably to avoid using a word that will have to change every time the storage technology changes.

I can't help you with the sameness factor, though. I suppose that one could say the the symphony orchestra always sounds the same. And the piano, of course. But what a difference between Beethoven's Hammerklavier and Stockhausen's Klavierstueck Nr. 9, eh?
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 07, 2009, 08:55:36 PM
One sticky wicket for sure.

I guess what I meant by samey sounding is that people maybe get that "computers can do anything" zeal, but later find that only certain things are PRACTICAL. If it costs too much money to put on, i'm sure most composers will trim back their excesses for exposure. Hence, many times, the same applications are used over and over...because they work in the real world (where things break and cords get accidently pulled, etc).

I really wish you would start an "Electroacoustic 101" thread.
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: some guy on May 09, 2009, 01:09:54 PM
I really wish you would start an "Electroacoustic 101" thread.

Well, I could do, I guess. These boards are kind of a busman's holiday for me, though. Plus I'm on the road, now, so couldn't give such a thread any consistent attention.

I suppose you could go to my site, (, but nothing there is in any way consistent, certainly not consistent in a 101 kind of way, though I have thought of cobbling up an electroacoustic primer. Some day, maybe.

It is true that there is no one place to go for good/up to the minute information about the field, or even for good historical info. Most music texts have a chapter at the end that's been cribbed from the urchapter, whoever did that, which mentions a half a dozen or so of the early folks and a few outliers (like Subotnick and Davidovsky), just for fun, I guess. Only recently have such figures as Francis Dhomont and Luc Ferrari been getting mentions in books.
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: Valentino on May 09, 2009, 08:49:04 PM
Shall follow this discussion, and maybe even manage to formulate a couple of uneducated questions.  ;)
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: petrarch on May 11, 2009, 01:49:58 AM
Is Boulez the mostest French Composer after Messiaen?

Yes, it is impossible to talk about post-WWII music without mentioning Boulez.

Here are a couple of other good postwar french composers (you've already mentioned quite a few and it's tough to find composers that are not spectral or whose output is not centered in electroacoustic music):
André Dalbavie
Philippe Manoury

Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 11, 2009, 11:56:01 AM
My original intent was to get some feedback on Claude Ballif, Gilbert Amy, and Ph. Manoury, who seems to have been around since the 50s, but whose? discography is anemic, though he appears to be a maverick in the serial stakes through 1950-80. The Kronos play his SQ No.3 in an OOP cd, and there are a few scattered pieces, but...

If anyone who has read this thread has ANY input on ANY aspect of what we're trying to get to the bottom of, please feel free. I think we're all pretty comfy with Boulez and Messiaen, and I think we know a few of these other composers by name, but most of them have really spotty discographies (Bacri seems to be thriving, though). It is frustrating to read about these composers' interesting works, and then realize that even their home country's record labels (MFA, Accord, Adda,etc) haven't blessed them with a core discography. Duh...doesn't the PompusDudes Center have a recording studio???

It certainly appears that the concept of national identity has vanished. I mean, WHO exactly IS  a "French" composer today? I think the question is irrevelant. France IS the PompusDudes Center and IRCAM, places EVERYONE in the world (Saariaho, Estrada, etc) goes to learn the newest techniques. However, I still believe a French avant gardist is going to sound a bit more "colorful" than say a German one (Dutilleux, Ohana, Messiaen).

Who is your favorite living French composer of "regular" music? ohhh,hahaha....ah..hahaha... ::)

Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: some guy on May 11, 2009, 01:25:50 PM
I associate Estrada more with CCMIX.

I did find one reference on-line to him having been at IRCAM, but that was only one and not a source whose reliability I could test in any way.

My favorite French composer of regular music would have to be Lionel Marchetti. But then I might not assign the same content to "regular" that you would, bwooah ha ha!!
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 11, 2009, 04:38:45 PM
Haha, I guess by "regular" I simply meant instruments sans!

Figures you were going to throw me a name I haven't heard. ;Doy!

Yes on Estrada...perhaps I've gotten so frustrated I just lump em all together. ;)
Well, I'm gearing up for some kind of "e-a" thread the snorkle gear on! Once more into the breach...
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on May 12, 2009, 10:59:44 PM
Two composers which have hard to find Erato cds are Marcel Landowski (3 syms.) and Marius Constant (4 ctos.). I'm really curious about the Constant in a jazzy way.
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: snyprrr on July 02, 2009, 06:56:00 AM
Title: Re: Avant French post-war
Post by: some guy on July 02, 2009, 03:28:16 PM
I think what we have hear is an example of what classical listeners know, and hence what they associate with "classical" music, even if it's the "avant garde," and that is instrumental music. But France is where electroacoustic music started, even if it did spread quickly to Germany and the rest of the world, and so it should come as no surprise to find a lot of French composers doing that kind of thing and in both fixed media and live improv.

But people who go to concerts have this idea that classical music means instrumental (and maybe choral/opera) music, and it takes place in concert halls. So if the composers post-war are largely electroacoustic composers (and I don't know that they are, but IF), then it's no wonder you're not getting any hits on this thread. Concert-goers have lost touch with music from after the second world war generally, and since electroacoustic is from after that war (1947), there was no question of losing touch even as there was no being in touch, ever.

This is a great pity, of course. Electroacoustic is 62 years old already, and many of its practitioners are still alive, what's more, so one can hang out with them, have a nice cuppa or a pint or two, argue about international football teams, stuff like that. Plus there's a lot of really lovely music out there. And it's not getting heard, because even people who listen largely via CD are still stuck in the "concert hall/instrumental" model and know nothing else.

The something else is out there, though. There are plenty of examples of really fine music, too, but you have to go to bars and coffee shops and museums and even consulates to hear the music live, and you have to know about Metamkine and emprientes DIGITALes and Mode and sub rosa and A Silent Place and the like, which are a few of the labels that specialize in newer (and electric) musics.

Along with Lionel Marchetti, there's Jerome Noetinger, Francis Dhomont, Michele Bokanowski, Christine Groult, Eliane Radigue, and Michel Chion who are all fine French composers post-war.
Title: Re: Electro-Acoustic (((("Thread"))))
Post by: snyprrr on November 14, 2012, 12:34:39 PM
Title: Re: Electro-Acoustic (((("Thread"))))
Post by: petrarch on November 14, 2012, 12:51:47 PM

What's the question?
Title: Re: Electro-Acoustic (((("Thread"))))
Post by: snyprrr on November 15, 2012, 07:53:52 AM
What's the question?

Just seeing if anyone has anything new to chat about. I was checking out James Tenny's E/A stuff,... it's kind of typical for the time, I wasn't really in for it at the moment.

What the most stereotypical bloop/bleep piece, with an emphasis on 'space age'? I need some comforting 'duck & cover' muisc.
Title: Re: The (((Electro-Acoustic))) Thread
Post by: PaulSC on November 15, 2012, 12:09:31 PM
Here are a few favorites of mine...

Arthur Kreiger

Roger Doyle

Denis Smalley

Ake Parmerud

Bernard Parmegiani
Title: Re: The (((Electro-Acoustic))) Thread
Post by: PaulSC on November 16, 2012, 12:32:59 PM
Stockhausen .. Gesang der Jünglinge, Kontakte, Mixtur, Mikrophonie I & II, Telemusik, Hymnen, Sirius, Unsichtbare Chöre, Oktophonie, Freitag aus Licht, Strahlen, Cosmic Pulses, Klang etc ..

Boulez .. Répons, ..explosante-fixe.., Anthemes II

Jonathan Harvey .. Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco, Bhakti, Madonna of Winter & Spring, Speakings ..

Harrison Birtwistle .. The Mask of Orpheus

George Benjamin .. Antara

Murial, Nono, Carlos  etc ..

Title: Re: The (((Electro-Acoustic))) Thread
Post by: PaulSC on November 17, 2012, 10:57:06 AM

Switched on Bach, The Well-Tempered Synthesizer.

Historic, notable, masterful, wonderful.

Of course, but on the other hand a terrible composer, so I was surprised to see her in your list.