François Bayle’s valeur obscure

Dack, John ORCID logoORCID: (2015) François Bayle’s valeur obscure. In: Kompositionen für hörbaren Raum: die frühe elektroakustische Musik und ihre Kontexte = Compositions for audible space : the early electroacoustic music and its contexts. Brech, Martha and Paland, Ralph, eds. Musik und Klangkultur = Music and Sound Culture . Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, pp. 277-286. ISBN 9783837630763. [Book Section] (doi:10.14361/9783839430767-017)


This chapter originated in an invited conference presentation given at the "Kompositionen für hörbaren Raum - die frühe elektronische Musik und ihre Kontexte" conference at the Technische Universität, Berlin in July 2014.

I investigated how an analysis of spaciality as an integral part of a composer’s musical language is informed not only by reference to the work itself, but also by textual commentaries provided by the composer within the context of more general historical/aesthetic spatial concepts in music. The specific repertoire I used to illustrate my chapter were acousmatic works by the French composer François Bayle with reference to the period from 1960 to 1980. My point of departure was an examination of potential affective responses experienced by listeners when confronted with imaginary or even impossible spaces evoked by acousmatic works. Smalley’s three-part ‘indicative field of space’ was also of great relevance in this discussion. Furthermore, I suggest that Bayle’s music exemplifies the complex interactions between Smalley’s ‘composed space’ and the necessity for diffusion in a ‘listening space’ such as a concert hall. In common with other composers, Bayle’s original practice of diffusing from a stereo tape, as opposed to using a multi-channel format, emphasized the contingencies of different performance venues and loudspeaker configurations. This shift from analogue stereo to multi-channel digital is also a subject area that I investigated Using examples from Bayle’s music, the importance of his use of space and the significance of concepts such as ‘espaces inhabitables’ and ‘espèces d’espaces’ were examined and their functions within an analysis evaluated. As Bayle has himself written: ‘S’il est une valeur obscure, c’est bien celle de l’espace’ (Bayle: 1993, 101). Despite the elusive nature of analyzing how space functions, its affective role in the perception and appreciation of a composition is a noteworthy development in contemporary music. I also made use of personal communications with François Bayle (with his kind permission).

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
Item ID: 17593
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Depositing User: John Dack
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2015 08:55
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2018 16:06

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