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What the GRM brought to music: from musique concrète to acousmatic music

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 November 2007

Marc Battier
MINT, Maison de la recherche, Université Paris-Sorbonne, 28, rue Serpente, F-75006 Paris Email:


Sixty years ago, musique concrète was born of the single-handed efforts of one man, Pierre Schaeffer. How did the first experiments become a School and produce so many rich works? As this issue of Organised Sound addresses various aspects of the GRM activities throughout sixty years of musical adventure, this article discusses the musical thoughts behind the advent and the development of the music created and theoretised at the Paris School formed by the Schaefferian endeavours. Particular attention is given to the early twentieth-century conceptions of musical sounds and how poets, artists and musicians were expressing their quest for, as Apollinaire put it, ‘new sounds new sounds new sounds’. The questions of naming, gesture, sound capture, processing and diffusion are part of the concepts thoroughly revisited by the GRMC, then the GRM in 1958, up to what is known as acousmatic music. Other contributions, such as Teruggi's, give readers insight into the technical environments and innovations that took place at the GRM. This present article focuses on the remarkable unity of the GRM. This unity has existed alongside sixty years of activity and dialogue with researchers of other fields and constant attention to the latter-day scientific, technological and philosophical ideas which have had a strong influence in shaping the development of GRM over the course of its history.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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