Juke-Box Granuvox

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In France, apart from the pratictioners and a few curious connaisseurs, how many people knows this weird music which is called concrete, electroacoustic or acousmatique ?

The answer, it must be admitted, is only a handful. This music genre remains unknown to the general except from two notable exceptions : "Messe pour le Temps Présent" by Pierre Henry and the cartoon "Les Shadocks", both very popular during the 60s.

Why is there such ignorance about a musical genre soon to celebrate its half century of existence ?

This music of sounds inspired an enthusiasm and a vitality among the musical community from the moment of its creation. The first two decades were rich and fertile in compositions, in events and there were numerous creative links with the cinema, dance, television or the radio.

Subsequently in the 70s various composers mostly from the movements of 68 united in an attempt to define more clearly the territory of this expression. Impelled by the desire to become respectable and eager to enter the hallowed sanctuary of "serious music", they surrounded and confined this music by a dogma as powerful as serialism in the instrumental domain. In order to give credibility to their reasoning they favoured musical research to the detriment of artistic expression.

Since then the principal activity of these structures (having become official and being subsidized) has been the development of technological tools (UPIC, 4X, Gmebaphone, Acousmonium, software, image-sound synthesis) parallel with analysis of and reflection on sound phenomena, and hence, the publication of numerous works.

To a lesser extent, these structures are devoted equally to teaching the initiation to techniques of composition according to the most restrictive rules. Essentially, we can say that this music must have neiver rythms nor melodies which could possibly refer to other musical forms and that it must remain strictly abstract in form. The internal organisation of such compositions - theoretically unlimited - can only be conceived within the strict confines of the laws engraved in the Bible according to Saint Schaeffer.

This style of teaching equally implies that each composition is legitimized intellectually by its author. There too, the predefined framework demands a formal constraint, excuse for all excess, leading often to an indigestible verbal torrent, confusing technique, philosophy and conceptual prejudices. Above all throughout the presentations, shines the aspiration of the composer - to be graced with the title of avant-garde. Thanks to the use of intellectual justifications which are deliberately impenetrable.

A final point characteristic off all such structures - refusal to communicate. Not only a clear lack of communication with the public but also a lack of communication between the structures (due to competition or the struggle for power) or between composer. Such behaviour is clearly paradoxical from the users of loudspeakers and it testifies to a lack of interset in the diffusion and circulation of musical pieces. This protectionism implies a refusal to expose oneself to criticism - perhaps the practice of sound music is a shameful illness ?

All of this is not without consequence on the austere image associated with this type of expression and the resulting complete lack of comprehension. A difficult music and an abstruse presentation - it needs more than this for the public to abandon the attempt. It is therefore by chance that the only contemporary composer favoured by the public is Jean-Michel Jarre...

In the light of this past, how can this music be played in 1995 ?

By deliberately taking a distance from the uses and customs of this tribe of austere morals. New generations of composers will recover the freshness and innocence of pioneers in order to set out once again to discover a continent of unknown lands.

In order to create a living music, one must be bold, open, enthusiastic, escape the rules, patterns and labels. Electroacoustic music has been a cerebral music for far too long - it is high time to affirm the sensual and emotional dimensions of this music in which the only guideline is to make the sound material sing.

New styles of presentation must be created for the public to hear this music. Here too, there must be initiative and no hesitation in confronting other forms of artistic expression. In this era which celebrates cultural eclecticism, only electroacoustic music remains deaf to the noises and movements of the world.

In addition it is necessary to hind a public unaccustomed to this type of expression. We forget too often this music is a fantastic springboard to the imagination of the listener. We must therefore invite the listener to listen to this music by offering simple paths.

It is now time to instil a new dynamism in this musical genre. The music must no longer be the private property of an introverted elite. Exchange, interchange, communication must take a central position - which demands a willingness on the part of all actors.

The use of noise in music has become widespread thanks to the evolution of technology and other types of music such as industrial music have develioped over the years. Just as a fringe public has sprung from this musical movement who approach this music of sounds with simplicity and without perceptions.

Industrial music and electroacoustic do have many similarity. The difference resides however in the artistic objective and in the public (age and class specific). In industrial music, networks are created, magazines exist and circulate, numerous labels produce and market disc, which are welcomed by a curious audience, open to this type of sensory experience. Why not imagine some connections between these related musical genres ? Each would only gain from such an encounter, combining spontaneity and reflection.

Everything is possible for the renewal of electroacoustic expression - methods already successfully used in other regions of the world. But France, as ever, takes her time to reflect and analyse. Others paths are still to be discovered, invented - but only imagination and action will contribute to the true blossoming of this music.

Texte publié le 01 /11/ 1995 dans le magazine musical VITAL (Hollande)
THANKS to Stephanie Charters-Rowe for english translation

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