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 model listener... warning
My first memories? Only from the sensation of space does the
desire, the mystery of music seize me. Moreover, when recalling the 191St/s.
the years of my beginning, have I sometimes presented myself as a “child
In comparison with the pioneers of the concrete or electronic era, they coming
from monophony and having demandingly explored the new properties of the instrument
loudspeaker, those from the next stage, to which I belonged, seemed at first
hardly different. Many only saw between mono and stereo a purely technical distinction:
two channels associated on the same support, a convenient diaphony.
The sound of a monophonic loudspeaker remains attached to the sounding body or
to the instrument it transforms and prolongs with an electroacoustic extension.
Whereas the spatial sound, having become autonomous by its capacity of moving
itself, crossed the line of non return to the initial cause, becoming a birdlike
Yet, a step had been taken, a limit had been transgressed...
In considering only one sound event but suddenly spatially defined and appearing
as if magical, not situated on loudspeakers anymore but between and around them,
floating and mobile, objectively present and pure movement, then the wall of
sound had been broken, the instrumental tropism cleared, another reality became
accessible, a pure spatial percept.
It was not a (an electroacoustic) music before one anymore, but a musical phenomenon
in the hollow of consciousness. Not a perception attached to a visible instrumental
mode, or a hearing led by the exterior anymore, but an activity of hearing, that
of a world of emotions and perceptive thought, that of a moving space of “temporal
objects”, recognised/wanted from the interior.
If, having been the first to open the door out of the usual space -
more attentive than others to the risks and perils - I dared on this new moon
only a few first steps. Their success encouraged me to undertake an indispensable
Acoustic Experience that definitely decided my future orientation.
From Es paces inhabitables of 1967, and even more so from Camera oscura (‘76),
this bias asserted itself, more than stereophonic: specifically utopian (by
utopian, have often designated my long works, immersion spaces prolonged in the
world of phenomena L’Experience Acoustique(70- 72) Le Purgatoire from
the Divine Comedy (72) etc and later Erosphere (80)- Son Vitnsse
Lumiere (84) or more recently La forme du tempo est un circle are
among these “utopian” works)
Before becoming acousmatic. But this is another story. F. B.
first a word on this organisation
: several rather strict little forms prepare for a rather free large form, of
which the fantasy (or the caprice) would find itself thus consolidated.
The preludes are introduced by a title that is an allusion to the vocabulary
of interpretation nuances as if one had to play these pieces on an imaginary
keyboard. These indications are to be taken seriously and concern the right attitude
of hearing that one should adopt to be able to ‘hear’ with all the
necessary cheerfulness. A “sound character” appears several
times throughout the work like a human modulo, as to provide a reference, a scale.
(One may think of L. da Vinci’s man inscribed in a circle and representing ‘the
image’ in the camera oscura). What will attract, interest the curious
ear are the multiple dimensions of space, staged in various ways in the progression
of the seven preludes, (therefore this Camera oscura would make one think of
the impressions one has when examining ‘views’ through a stereoscope).
The first four preludes alternate the open and the closed, (4-toccata- the shortest,
condenses in just over one minute the intensity of closure). From the 5th onwards,
a new dimension arises, the ceiling is blown away: the camera seems to open on
a sky of harmonics, of tones... in the following preludes, the spectre is enriched:
from a black and white drawing to the life of forms and coloured volumes.
These seven exercises of attention have prepared for the ordeal of the labyrinthe.
As in the arches of a video game, it is by the combination of the previously
acquired forms that the attention will find the necessary references to lean
on to and to move forward along the course, until the far outcome, the problematic
ray of hope.
At first a rhythmic maze, mirrors-forms that look more-or-less alike, that are
assembled, woven, fugued. The figures of resonance and of shortened rustlings
present themselves as a draught board on which pieces with peculiar walks would
move. The progression leads to (index 9 to 10) the danced movement of a prepared
piano (reminder of a collage by Max Ernst : allons, dansonslIa ténébreuse...
Then we find ourselves thrown into windings and crystallized sonorities, in which
the lines would be lost if they were not supported by low layers, from plateau
to plateau, seemingly leading to a muter and muter deep, to the bottom of an
abyss that heat and light would reach (maybe), in extremis.
But for the ear, these constructions in sequence, processes, stretching, extensions,
transpositions, thickenings, harmonisation, spatialisation, reverberations and
dissipation are only forms and impressions left on the memory, in view of a joy
of a multidimensional, fulfilled hearing..
As André Boucourechliev has subtly noted, sounds have not to express the
feelings they provoke. FB.
With the distance, I do not have the wish anymore to
explain the ‘message’ of
Espaces. This romantic work has the excuse of being short, and our ears today
will be more surprised by the Japanese concision of each of its movements than
by the symbolic field half-opened by their titles.
A more actual interest would focus on the writing and the techniques
in what was my first real work (the one that led me to the ideas I have today).
Gardens of Nothing was my first deliberate attempt to organise dynamic processes.
By processes or dynamic species, I refer to the various of figures that appear
in the temporal development of sound phenomena. This bringing out of time and
its division reveals a set of essentially energetic criteria in the physical
sense (of sound causes and agents) as well as at a psychological level (of the
effects of attention mobilisation, of the degrees of predictability). In these
short movements I postulated a logic of flexibility, a grammaticality of various
- the order of solids: notes on a zither, attack/resonance, descending
- the order of fluids: the sound of trodden gravel; the murmur of waves,
sadden movements dissolving. A discreet homage to Debussy in the figures
and their resolution on a pure note at the end. A reminder of rake traces
in a Zen garden.
Geophony, here a plastic construction in a futuristic style, of vast sound blocs.
The dynamic species in presence oppose ‘streaming’ sounds with strong
energies to rapid internal movements with violent percussion/resonance.
Homage to Hobur, construction of a progression by the evolution from vague to
distinct, from muffled to precise. The depth of the sounds, their register, their
mixing develop the pulsation and its echoing answers. The space here is filled.
Robot-the-Conqueror is, along with Nemo, Hatteras, the hero-type of Jules Verne,
absolute to the point of suicide, In echo of this symbol corresponds the allusion
to Georges Bataille in the following movement, the fragile and frozen line of
a continuous melody that seems pushed to the extreme.
The Blue of the Skyworks on constant melodic equivocal, a drawing easily spotted,
even though it is concealed by harmonics. The role of low muffled punctuation
which play with the layers they release.
Bitterness is to be understood as a continuation of jardins de rien, delayed
by the insertion of the other movements. The previous dynamic species are found
again at the end of a long preamble of harmonic mist and informal rustles. Disorientated
- orientated - broken - this
is how the movement progresses, by analogy with the overall form of the work.
The work here is remixed from the barely restored original
François Bayle’s music is to be considered as a fabric,
a fabric of relationships open to constant evolution, aiming at transformation
more than information, feeling more than awareness. A fabric of relationships
so dense that it expresses it’s own life, a logic having it’s own
laws: weaving sounds as we weave life.
The ear of velocity (l’oreille de velocite -according to Bayle’s
own expression - makes it possible to go beyond the analytical character of machine
manipulation in such way as to reach the synthetic dimension of the presiding
rules which shape the result obtained. It is a matter of exploring the forces
at stake and of perceiving their meaning. Reality is not sound, but the act of
listening, where the perceptive gesture is the essential element: percussion
is not only shock, but the manifestation of bodies as present. This is a dynamic
and living conception, without beginning or ending, indicating the exploration
of an interior world, and integrated in his music, which, like natural phenomena,
ceases more than concludes.
In placing perception as the starting point, thus guaranteeing human reality,
Bayle‘s musical project appears almost subversive in relation to certain
spheres where intellectualism is still all present, and in relation to the mediation
of a thought inaugurated by the first tools of infra or ultra-perceptive exploration,
such as the microscope... or the microphone.
The processes related to electromagnetism have led to new disciplines, whose
expressions are specific, have revealed another world. It is not the muscular
body that is requested, but the expression of the electrical body that is aimed
at. Consequently, the singular and specific project of Bayle‘s acousmatic
music is to transform the materiality of sound, of space, and of the technical
devises of sound reproduction. The relationships between forces and mechanical
restraints - those of acoustic music- are replaced by relationships of speed,
specific to the electrical world, and whose extent is particular to the electroacoustic
world. Bayle’s music appears as revealing the multiple forces at stake:
those mechanical, electrical, magnetic, psychological, emotional, sensory...
forces whose virtuality is only apparent.
In view of an experience, that is, to enter in contact with a process in such
way as to keep the conscience awake, Bayle shares with us the logic of totality,
rather than that of separate parts; the logic of construction rather than that
of decomposition. Time appears as the sphere of being, where the future constantly
erupts into the present: the trihedron is more interior.
This music puts the listener face to face with the essential element: a core
which is animated by its own forces and reflects simultaneously every conflicting
though complementary restraint. By its organic character and its nature, the
body is constantly invested by transmodality. F Bayle is very clear: it is in
the making that the meaning is born.
With Espaces inhabitables, F Bayle, as early as 1967, exceeds the stasis of sound
objects which meet with the laws of mechanical physics and of gravity. In the
end, the electronic sound exceeds the characteristics of matter and colour, losing,
at the same time, weight and stiffness, so it can be considered in terms of intertwined
plant-like lines, as free as the oriental artist’s paintbrush on a sheet
of paper. Like the pictorial stroke, where spirit and matter mingle, F Bayle’s
first sound lines already reveal, in this early work, the intersection between
two worlds: the outside and the inside, the interior and the exterior.
Camera Oscura (1976) reflects an organic conception of the whole: not that which
studies anatomy, but that of the botanists in the tradition of Goethe, i. e.
observing a phenomenon in situ, globally, from the perceptions we have of the
phenomenon, and where an element is under the influence not only of it’s
own restraints, but also of those of surrounding phenomena. The sterile context
of the laboratory is deserted for complex phenomena, whose movements we can only
hope to embrace, and maybe be able to understand their meaning.
Bayle ‘s work is like a garden. The garden where, out of curiosity he has
sown seeds of rare flowers. On the look-out, he observes closely the growth of
his shoots, but also those unexpectedly brought by others, by birds, insects;
the plant’s transformation through it’s primordial movement as well
as it’s subjection to external phenomena: the disruptive wind which also
enriches the garden of new essences, the nourishing but destructive sunshine,
the saving humidity or the devastating torrential rain... At last, he contemplates
the short-lived result of each instant, the relationship established between
the various plants according to their colour, their shape, their size, their
reaction to wind, light, water, neighbouring plants... The relationships brought
by our own history.
And, without being concerned with science, or biological, geological, meteorological,
physical, acoustic or other studies. he makes us take part in a lesson of life
where individual autonomy is of fundamental value.
The world of noise, reflection of the world, Bayle conceives his raw material
-the energetic stamp of a sound occurrence- as a means of access to sound: the
form of an outline, a material with plastic qualities, distortable, malleable.
Declining this initial form, varying it’s outlines, constitutes the prime
matter of Bayle ‘s acousmatic project.
The modeling of contours and the transformation of forms reveal the morphological
proprieties of sound entities, but above all they require and stimulate the perceptive
faculties of the listener. The ear is the starting point and the guide to an
empiric method oscillating incessantly between action - listening (ecoute-action)
and operation-listening (ecoute-operation).
The notion of gesture is at the centre of Bayle’s musical activity: the
gesture as call or core. This is the initial et-boum (F. Schirren), the impulsion
that opens, the trigger that entails and that we find in most of the composer’s
pieces. But there is also the launching of movements, the central gesture reveals
the energies at play, which are relieved by the electronic instruments/tools.
And the rhythm, shaped from the author’s psychological universe, guarantees
the gesture’s reality. The manifestation of a movement but above all the
expression of a ‘law’, this gesture provides the relationship
between body and mind, between matter and energy, and allows the instruction
of a form of conscious ness in relation with our sensory and cognitive capacities,
therefore actualising primitive schemes, reactivating them under a new light.
The evolution of music then appears through the notion of force acting on forms,
of dynamic forces . And the exploration of an image’s identity
establishes a work area, guarantees the development of ranges of forms and values
As light modifies the aspect of objects, Bayle methodically examines his ranges
through deformations, reformations and transformations he stimulates according
to a process which has three polarities. These polarities are labeled image-sound
(son-image), diagram sound (son-diagramme) and metaphor-sound (son-metaphore).
The total sound that is retained and identifiable, the iconic making, represents
through it’s simplest examination, the image-sound mode. This mode puts
forward the forms in presence, the image with isomorphic qualities which already
reveal the abstract outlines and which distinguish themselves from the figurative
or causal references of a recording.
The diagram-sound proposes a layout of the image, it gives clues, suggests the
force lines of forms, and exceeds the anecdotal history of the object. This is
the reduction phase of a sound complex, the image with its different levels of
apprehension/appreciation, according to elementary energetic categories. An event,
anchored in its materiality and its anecdotal icon text, unveils its essential
characteristics, those common to its kind and guaranteeing a harmonisation.
At last, while underlining the dynamic forces, the metaphor-sound constitutes
the transfiguration of form in view of a generalisation, it reveals the archetype:
the filtered envelope of its material components, polished from inert elements,
becomes a model, it establishes a figure.
Bayle sets down this declension process, in which the transformations remain
intelligible, as an organising intention of the listening itself, of which the
main vector is the subjective relationship impressed on the object itself which
is reduced to this function.
To the methodical construction of a duration by a coercive activity, i. e. the
succession/superimposition of as many inert objects, Bayle tries more to make
gestures and favourable conditions for the autonomous growth of a free organism.
His music, by a psychological tuning of instinctively chosen values, in echo
to physiological rhythms or interior climates, corresponds to a singular musical
activity, to a paradoxical logic and to a different and profound reality.
The intention is not to constitute a structure, a notion which implies rigidity
and predictability, but to find mainspring articulations. The notion of form
then indicates the initial entity, the strap work made up of the declensions
but also of the global length; each step is the manifestation of a specific level
of perception. It is then a matter of listening to what generates form, its logic,
more than the form itself, the concrete manifestation, the sound.
The form as a dynamic process is also the trace of human activity. One of the
purposes of acousmatic modality as defined by Bayle seems to be of an ethical
nature, a regression in view of a liberation:
rendering perception available to the cogency of form, rendering the hearing
its freedom, a hearing which is conditioned by a musical theory in which the
normative stakes exceed the scope of music.
Translation Fiona Swan
François Bayle’s approach owes its originality to the fact
that all his musical activity is devoted to the exploration of the ‘acousmatic’ world,
a phrase he spread about. This is the vast sphere in which the keen admirer of
Jules Verne, Paul Klee, Gaston Bachelard and René Thom revolves. He was
born in Tamatave in 1932 and educated in Bordeaux, but he did not follow the
traditional curriculum of musical studies. It was on his own, at work and from
experiences with the sound proper, that Bayle discovered and trained himself.
Though in his early works he still resorted to traditional instruments together
with the tape, he eventually gave up almost all references to them. By means
of a new grammar and in the field of sound transformation only, F. B. constantly
broadens his language and seeks to setup an imaginative logic of thought and
Grand Prize of the Ville de Paris, 1996— The Magison label publishes
most of F B. works.
After Brigitte Massin in Encyclopedia universalis (Paris Albin