b. 1932, Tamatave — Madagascar
In 1958-60, François Bayle joined Pierre Schaeffer’s Groupe
de Recherches Musicales in Paris, and between 1959- 62 worked with Olivier
Messiaen and Kariheinz Stockhausen. In 1966, Pierre Schaeffer put him
in charge of the GRM which, in 1975, became an integral department of
the French National Audiovisual Institute (INA). He maintained this position
In addition, it was François Bayle’s idea to create the Acousmonium
(1974). He also originated the record series Collection lna-Grm, organizes
concerts and radio broadcasts and still supports the development of technologically
advanced musical instruments (Syter — Grm tools — Midi
Formers — Acousmographe).
In 1993, he founded the Acousmatheque, a repertoire of some 2000
works composed since 1948, and that also organises symposiums and composers’ portraits.
Upon leaving the GRM in 1997, he created his own studio and the record label Magison.
To date, he has composed 97 works.
Recent compositions include Fabulae (1990-91), La main vide (The empty hand)
(1994-95), Morceaux de ciels
(Pieces of heavens )(1996), Jeîta –retour (1985-99), Arc, pour Gerard
Grise (1999), La forme du temps est un cercle
(Time’s form is a circle))1998-2001), La forme de l’esprit est un
papillon (The mind’s form is a butterfly) (2001-03).
Releases:18 monographic CSs ) Magison Cycle Bayle (1 to 18)
Musique acousmatique, propositions ... positions — Buchet/Chastel, Paris,
Parcours d’un compositeur— M. Chion/Mssiqees et Recherches, Brussels,
L’image do son/Klangbilder— lmke Misch - Ch. v. Blumroder/Lit verlag,
François Bayle, portraits polychromes — M. de Maule/Ina, Paris,
SACEM Grand Prize for Composers, 1978— National Record Grand Prize, 1981 —Ars
Electronica Prize, Linz, 1989
City of Paris Grand Prize for Music, 1996— Homage by the CIME of Sao Paolo,
1997— Charles Cros Presidential
Grand Prize, 1999.
Currently. President of the Symphonic Music Commission of the SACEM (since 2001).
to the ideal listener...
how is it that by listening distractedly or attentively,
the schema of “that passage “becomes indelibly associated
(and is it not from such a “passage” that we remember a piece
This sensation of flowing, which distinguishes musical emanation from a wave
and its apparent passage, also implies that a certain pressure activates it. Through
empathy or sympathy, it is this that makes us feel embraced to such a point that,
at times, it’s as though it leaves its mark, the resonance left in our
mind, like an insistent, persistent ritornelle
Process and pressure, memory and impression, that special emotion transverses
the given instant, prolongs this precise point of hearing, this “eye” of
the hourglass where a mysterious matter trickles out: time.
Spinning top pulsar, ballroom ball with multiple facets, bursts of instants or
probes of durations, time’s object legato staccato-rubato reveals and conceals
itself, suddenly appears and at its best, vanishes, only to return through memory.
Memory that loses and finds, inscribes then forgets. Such is a music made of
passing outbursts, of momentous events of angled projections. Transversing-transversed
If listening means giving form then it is always relevant within a temporal perspective
perceptible from a standard measure, from a point of fleeting time.
One will then be able to hear that my goal was to examine my own reactions to
listening, based on several temporal measures each determined by it own caliber
or grain, sometimes mingled. dense pulses, crowd bursts, shocks, water swishing,
dancing rhythms. Distant or near bells (times supreme toll) Up to and including
the sparkle, the crackling of circular winds.
Time in its various states, in five passages.
And my extremely humble homage offered to the garland of philosophers, a child’s
pebble in their pond a smoke ring in their firmament.
A few indications concerning each movement:
(Time’s form is a circle)
nature that reservoir of organisms and temporal forms proposes
many patterns to our rhythmic imagination: breathing, pulses, ebb and flow, a
day’s circle or the passage of seasons. . Their textures
and designs term the ground floor, the carpet of our existence.
Time’s figures, those whose audible traces reveal their inner movements,
can surprise as by their seemingly familiar vocabulary. My project, the idea
behind this work, is to arouse the desire or pleasure of listening by presenting
rather temporal perceptions based on their images, figures, impetus and vividness.
Several “moments” therefore that each entities traverse shall attempt
to demonstrate special aspects of time’s “grain,” in order
to prolong its emotional potential.
Here then, are some of time’s such figures at work. There is the one that
hurries then flees, the sea that pounds and hammers, that breaks the wave, that
moves backwards and does an about face, - that splashes into
a shower, that trickles like rain, - that flows, while dropping
off, - that only forms a bead, that spurts out in jolts, that
gyrates in a whirl, - that evaporates...
Variations from “knocks” to “traces,” from a heavy pulse
to melody, from a tolling bell and its mysterious concurring powers to the furrows
of clouds of dust and orbits circulating at various speeds, not to mention the
various “paces” of the pulse itself.
Some Pythagorean considerations then, since, as the poet says:
(...) Pythagoras reveals to his Greeks that time’s
form is a circle...
(...) Everything happens a first time, eternally.
He who reads these words in vents them. J. L Borgès The
At the end of the the stages, the listener will have completed
a trajectory, one of temporal unity beginning from the finest “grain” and
progressively focusing his/her perception in order to discern and identify images
Colors’ transience, speeding figures will be resolved in a spiral (the
three-dimensional form of a circle), by which the initial sound image (tolling
bells) will infinitely evolve into the final sound image:
that of summer crickets during a night of suspended, dream like time.
A sound effervescence is established and fills the listening space like
But, at times, it is as though there are holes, sudden amnesia, parasitical reminiscences.
Some unreal segments of durations coming from nowhere appear. Strange multiples.
The atmosphere alone carries the sound and its reflections....
In the same way that two tonalities are never more distant than when separated
by a small interval, very different sonorities can easily fuse together Yet,
the more they resemble each other, they more they remain distinct.
Here, whet appears to me as a song is the interplay of these associations - dissociations
between close figures and distant images. instantaneous perceptions grasp them
like an odor. The animallike nature of listening is on the right track and, by
turning memory inside-out, rediscovers hidden patterns and desires. So, representation
does work: I can identify with this!
Time’s wings carry the sounds’ reflections.
The echo of the bells on the walls of an enclosed courtyard and in particular
those of the Saint Severie church that I have heard every day for the last 30
years, with, as a bonus, the chirping of the sparrows that answer back cadentially
.so close (barely fifteen meters) . . so far (I’m not
Such are the “knocks” that I impart to the Pan flutes, whose delayed
reflections I have organised...
Plus the microtonal differences, the fusion of different materials, the percussiveness
of the wind,
accents within the lines. Smaller and smaller mutations, distances...
Air carries the wings.
Time carries their fluttering.
Agited, sliding entities. Subito-presto figures, almost-slow Gigues. Contracted
stretches, contrary accents, widely separated points, harmonised single hues.
Where are we, where are we? What is all this agitation, palpitation, alteration?
Does all this trembling, swarming concern me? Am I in the middle of this vibrating
Am I the actual place of this temporal vibration? Of this phenomenon?
But, could it ... when and why, and for whom else . . be reproduced?
(Am I not myself a ‘tempo-phenomenon?)
What is a “pace”? In Schaefferian “musique concrete” solfeggio,
it means the fluctuating quality that asound maintains. The movement that animates
the life of a resonance through an internal pulse, one that beats .. (not to
be confused with a “vibrato,” which is a melodic oscillation from
the trill family).
The word in French, allure, comes from the verb “aller,” to go, a
way of going (rigid or supple, regular or limping) In English, pace, comes from
the Latin “passus,” or rate of movement. Both apply to the dynamic
energy behind the phenomenon-being.
The “pulse” of those beings My own participative “pulse"
In addition, the pace or manner of being is also that which can not hide any
psychological flaws: that particular, awkward appearance, developed over experience
(that of time).
First, the light
hail of these “grains” of
time that trickle out as if from an hourglass and nibble at a steady duration,
stimulating it like gusts of wind over water, slight accelerations within an
Then, these sliding gusts that slowly rise, wandering in a circular manner, up
the listening space. Then, these figures, in constellation form that the wind
Then, these circles that grow larger, encircling themselves concentrically, stimulating
one another, soothing one another...
Then, this fine grain that weaves its thread that itself gives substance and
engulfs the space...
It is readily understandable, this game could go on …
By Gianfranco Vinay
La forme du temps est un cercle (Time’s form is a circle), Francois
Bayles most recent acousmatic poem invites the listener to explore time in its
various states, in five passages” through very rich poetic philosophical
The ‘first state” (or movement) is concrescense , a keyword
in Bayle’s po(i)tetics, suggesting a dynamic interpretation of musique
concrete that which grows together conjunctions of intermingled growths the word “concrete” coming
from ‘cum’- with and ‘crescere’ -to grow.
In this first movement “passage times state” (bubbling, time’s
pressure?), the sound image of a “spinning top in the sky creates a vortex
generating a long series of fluid images : liquid fluidity of running water,
atmospheric fluidity of crickets, verbal fluidity of a crowded marketplace, rhythmic
fluidity of jazzy fragments. And finally, the bucolic and wooded fluidity of
a Pan flute, the sound icon of natural fluidity arid musical time’s circular
nature (in Homer’s hymn to Pan , the ‘nymphs that live in
the mountains sing with a clear voice while dancing in rounds’ celebrating
the god playing his flute).
The ‘close and “far” evoked in the second movement’s
title refers just as much to distance and proximity as it does to the perception
of that which is identical or different. At first, sound homologies and differences
attract our perception Bells, birds Pan flute chorus, a xylophone’s metallic
sounds : images played in near-unison provoke us to question the diversity of
their timbres and the quasi-identicalness of their pitches. Later the spatial
principle comes into play. Polyphonic elaboration, concrescense of sound objects,
interplay between reverberations and echo’s make these images move around
the acousmatic space which, little by little, is transformed into a dream like
scene, into a mysterious and disquieting nocturnal.
The third and fourth movements are also connected by a mirror play based on the
relationship between homology and difference Shorter than the others these two
mirrored movements resonate with all sorts of percussive sound objects : metal-sheet
bells, metalophones, sleigh bells, bells and hand bells, drumheads, human voices
and coughing bouts, plucked instruments, air punctuated by breath.. The time-flow
differentiates the two movements. In the third movement, the multiplicity of
tempi Phenomena as well as of relationships between objects (sounds) and subject
(creator), “that place of temporal vibrations, “is expressed through
shifts of silence and extremely varied animations between the full and the void.
Such a phenomenology of musical time is both very modern and very ancient (consider,
for example, Saint Augustin ‘s sublime speculation in his Confessions on
the relationship between musical time and the soul, between “internal
time” and “external time”.
In the fourth movement, on the other hand, time becomes less morseled, now that
the author’s attention is concentrated on its pace, or allures (meaning, “in
Schaefferian solfeggio, the fluctuating quality that a sound maintains. The movement
that animates the life of a resonance.”) This series of ‘inner pulsations’ is
closer to the theoretical notion of Philoxenos’ chronos taxin (rhythm
as a series of time measures) than to that of traditional rythmics measured and
codified by writing, based on mathematical proportions between time and notes’ durations.
Therefore the distinction between acousmatics and mathematics (in
the ancient Greek sense of “the science of learning”) does not only
affect the pedagogic methods of listening (Pythagoras’ famous curtain 5),
but also the actual nature of musical elements.
The last movement begins with a circular image similar to a grain of energy spinning
in an accelerator of particles. An image, not unlike that of the first movement’s “spinning
top ‘ which provokes a chain and a concresence of fluid sonorities.
A regular clinking resonates in sidereal space, leading to a last repetition
of fluid images, further and further distanced.
“It is readily understandable, this game could go on are Francois Bayle’s
concluding notes. Indeed... Pythagoras’ circle, evoked in the quoted Borges
poem, designates the geometric form of time controlled by Aïon, the god of vital
fluid origins, and consequently, that of the destiny of mortals and the duration
of their lives, symbolized by a serpent biting its own tail (an image of eternity,
of oriental form, of the Jungian concept of soul, etc). Another poem by Borges
enumerates human civilization’s topol, rich in allusions to metempsycose
and to the eternal return (“A fish jumps out of the sea and a man from
Agrigente will remember/having been this fish”; “The entire past
returns like a wave / these olden things come into view/because you
were kissed by a woman “).
Two thousand years of the history of Western music could be interpreted
as a battle between two temporal principles: a Chronos
time, linear and dialectical, expressing the teleological orientation of Christian
times (from the birth and death of Christ to the Apocalypse) and an Aïon-time,
circular, pagan, underlying, repressed yet always present in the collective unconscious
as a reservoir of poetic and dream-like images, metamorphic and labyrinthian
Chronos time is at the root of rhythmic regularity codified by musical
notation as well as of the harmonic dialectic of tension/release. On the othe
rhand, Aïon-time opposes rhythmic regularity through all sorts of agog,
aleatoric, metrical, polymetrical and metaphorical loopholes. It is also this
Aïon time that attempts to transform the linear and dialectical sequences of
tonal harmony and tempered scales into a circular and labyrinthian procession
(by the circle of fifths and the 24 keys).
The fluidity of time. the circular nature of the sound images, the series of
sound transformations in François Bayle’s most recent work demonstrate
the composer’s vocation (as well as that of acousmatic music) to let Abs-time
triumphantly return during an epoch when Chronos-time (whose attributes are a
scythe and a clepsydra) excercises its tyrannical powers, encouraged by the contemporary
atomization of existential time.
Gianfranco Vinay is a musicologist, professor emeritus at the Torino Conservatory
Translation Sharon Kanach
Bayle’s oeuvre is notable for its masterly craftsmanship and rhetoric,
its agile discourse and its sophisticated thought. Large-scale forms include
long developmental sections shot through with recycled mutations of various ‘proto-elements’ (Son
Vitesse Lumiere)and vast sequences of contrasting, but complementary movements
that give rise to variations on certain initial propositions (Grande polyphonie,
Les couleurs de Ia nuit, Tremblement de terre tres doux).
Additional style characteristics include intertwining textural variations (Toupie
dons le ciel), filigree-like sound (Jeita), sequential pro iferat’ons
and reactions (Motion emotion), distinctive tone colours and syntactical
articulation (‘montages-catastrophes’) (Theatre d’Ombres,
Fabul, La main vide, Morceaux de Ciels).
Bay;e’s mus’c is brought to light through a succession of unveilings
since, as he would say:
“the underlying attributes of the listening process gently disrupt any
after F. Dhomont in New Grove Dictionary 2000
Grand Prix de l Musique de la Ville de Paris 1996, Grand Prix de l’Academie
Charles Cros 1999