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).
the ideal listener*
WHAT! Is it not contradictory to talk about “notes” in
music that uses neither instruments nor a score, and depends entirely
on projected sound-images?...
I wanted to tackle this difficulty — not without some precaution — hence
by the short distance marked by this “note” (nota
Here is the “fable”
By nota I mean something that starts from the note, taken as a complex
object with a short, dry, concise value, and encompasses space until a direction
appears: the path of an arrow flying towards its target, or rebounds off the
So, on the one hand, the note as a target, on the other as an arrow or impetus.
This results in a dual musical interpretation, according to the “pregnancy” of
the movements, parallel or alternate, sombre or colourful, and according to the “salience” of
the notes as staccato objects, or short commentades, or motifs taken from the
In short, a play of sonances and mobility “Moving sound” (Son
Each of these Fabulae is aimed at inventive listening, based on forms-cum -signs,
which are arranged to create an imaginary tale, an impossible story of “visions” (sound
An invention, in the musical sense of the word.
We may take inspiration from the personal readings of Dominique Druhen and Jean-Christophe
Thomas, follow the instruments that guide their interpretation, trigger off the
incentive. As fictitious as the animals in the fable, they bring out the musical
meaning all the better
THUS an imaginary curtain rises on four scenes, each with a short, simple title,
which is curious, open, and is the protext for a broad interpretation. Can we
put forward a meaning?
fabula. . sings no doubt of the bird of the table, and the wind bearing
onoma... projects five cliches or snapshots, scenes of naive ‘vitromagie’
nota... plays with the decomposed movement of notes, surprised n full
sonora. mingles colours, space and rhythms to form a dance that is at
How does the fabula change, how does the fabula i.e. the ear, which interprets — establish
itself, during these four episodes
Here I must briefly clarify my approach, which is marked by acousmatics in its
mode of expression and, above all ,characterized by a deliberate intention to
build up figures whose movements are clearly perceptible to the listener.
We can thus follow, by ear, the progress on of timbres cum-characters, rhythmic
expressions, dynamic motifs, as episodes occur.
In the first tubule a song presents directions for intervals, neumes,
which contrast their differences (ascending, erased, descending, augmented, compressed)
with the clashes and morphological irregularities of the landscape of sound.
But the ascending interval asserts itself, dominates. In the second onoma— it
is succeeded by a descending run, which introduces five microclimates, unmated
postcards, with the following sequence “clair de lune” (moonlight), “tango”, “tohu-bohu “(hubbub),” balançoire
(swing), rebondissements (rebounds/developments), with their childish, figurative
images. The third one — nota chooses short note values. They form directions,
paths, bouncing colours. The result is dots, lines and, above all, impulses.
Finally, the fourth episode — sonora— brings the piece to a close
with a sort of variation, a motif cum-refrain, which progresses five times from
light to serious, from bright to dark, to join and confirm a suspensive, soaring
resolution, that of the bird n the opening fabula.
In these apologues, we may thus hear the voice that speaks in the language that
existed before sounds and
tells of the native land — that of the unconscious. And we may thus perceive
well, dance now...
movement alone does not lie
This first part is introduced by a carpet of sound ascending runs of
xylophones, which change into birds, which, in turn, become carillons. This carpet
is a stage curtain It rises and the fable settles in. At first, easily identifiable
movement comes forward, like a character endowed with speech. It is a short,
insistent, childish melody, as if played by an organ hesitating between the church
and the merry-go round. A short, old fashioned formula, which advances on one
This motif plays a very important role in the first part: on the one hand, its
structure traverses the whole of the Fabula on the other, its plastic qualities
sustain the piece and even the whole cycle.
This motif is produced by a hybrid instrument in which the air struggles with
the mechanism. When we listen, we can easily make out the sound of the air pressure
in the pipe. Subsequently, the organ, which is full of these two tensions (the
living air, breath, and the constraint of the mechanism), is to be heard variously
throughout the cycle in a series of different roles corresponding to these two
aspects The successive metamorphoses are as follows: on the one hand, organ,
oriental mouth organ, flute, bird, fog horn and wind on the other, organ, barrel
-organ, merry-go-round organ, musical box, harpsichord, guitar and harp.
Five musical postcards, as the composer
puts it. Five clichés,
snapshot, five moments that are lost for ever.
Clare de lune (moonlight) sets out a few simple elements, like those
cardboard sets that portrait photographers used to use as a background. The gurgling
of water bubbling, the organ which becomes an oriental mouth organ, the ukelele
guitar which longs for the islands but cannot makeup its mind whether it is
a harp or a harpsichord : the scene a good natured, full of humour, evoking the
ridiculousness of the amorous moment par excellence.
On the other hand, is a miniature heavy
with threat. On the background of a rainstorm, the guitar has become double,
is now electrified. It is nervous, it is in search of an identity, warming up
rather than paying Then comes tohu-bohu (hubbub) Percuason (bounces are transformed
into growling animals(, carillons, car horns, hunting-calls from the brass — everything concurs to create
a veritable (angle of sound, a commotion. A melancholy, almost tender classical
guitar solo contrasts with this hustle and bustle.
(swing) is a larger-than-life postcard
In a matter of seconds, everything is there: the rope chafing and creaking, whistles
and childrens’ voices,
words repeated over and over again for fun until they lose their meaning The
whole piece hinges on the movement of the swing around its axis.
is a polyphony of impacts, a broad, sparkling, iridescent fabric, such as are
often to be found in François
Bayle’s works. Rebondissements: rebounds, but also new elements in the
plot of the fable
It is a large scale polyphony in short note values, a general vibration
of matter - whether it be in detail or in the whole. A shimmering fabric. Frictions
arise from the different periods of each of the isolated sounds making up the
If the fable is an epilogue, it is because it allows itself
to play the game of metaphors: nota is like a great symphonic organ - remember
the 19th century organ that wanted to become en orchestra but each key is associated
with a different periodicity, each note is a world in itself.
Music makes games of illusion possible: the infinitely small and the infinitely
large can be identified at the same moment As if the listener
had, at the same time, a microscope and a telescope to examine and contemplate
the life of the sounds.
nota onwards, the naive nature of the Fabulae has become less clear. Yet, in
sonore, we once again find an organ motif which punctuates and marks out the
whole piece. A motif in descending runs this time, which slows itself down ; and
the noise of the air pressure in the pipes is even more clearly audible than
This motif recurs five times, each time more solemn, deeper, in the musical
and the psychological sense, each time more restrained, as if it were imposing
a constraint on itself, end providing its awn accompanying figures. The five
refrains are interrupted by couplets. the guitar (the guitar-harpsichord-harp
of onoma) returns once; and in the middle of the piece, a break interrupts the
flow of the narrative — a magnificent breech in the messed sound, a prodigious
staging effect, muffled in the background, a nursery rhyme is played on an imaginary
xylophone whose bars are horses hooves.
The end of the piece is no longer bathed in naivety. Wisdom has become sombre;
the tone serious. A long chord, with duplications of the octaves, brings the
fable toe close with iridescent rending towards the high notes. All is said.