Dufeu, Frédéric (2011) Electroacoustic Music and Popular Culture Interacting: Aesthetic and musicological implications of GRM Experience by Christian Fennesz, Mika Vainio and Christian Zanési. In: Electroacoustic Music Studies Network EMS11, Sforzando!, 14th - 18th June 2011, New York, New York, USA. (Unpublished)

Created on October 11th, 2003 at the Maison de Radio France in Paris, GRM Experience is a work signed by three composers coming from different electronic-related musical horizons. Whereas both Christian Fennesz and Mika Vainio usually perform in popular spheres of diffusion -- the former's processing of instrumental sources by digital means being largely marked by the aesthetics of pop and rock music, the latter's analogue methods inheriting from his experiments among the techno duo Pan Sonic -- Christian Zanési's art belongs to electroacoustic music as it has been produced in the Groupe de Recherches Musicales since 1977. Their collective creation was based on a first session of individual work from preliminary exchanged sound material, followed by a confrontation stage which led to the final composition, performed live in several European concerts and edited on CD.

Although many musical events attempt to bridge the gap between electroacoustic music and popular culture, actors from these two general spheres most often play jointly rather than through intimate collaborations. Furthermore, if musicology provides a wide range of approaches to technology-based creation made inside institutions, popular electronic music is generally regarded as a global phenomenon and few detailed studies have aimed at particular works or artists yet.

As GRM Experience constitutes a significant instance of an accomplished collaboration between artists sharing an extensive use of sound and music-dedicated technology but evolving in distinct aesthetic and socio-cultural domains, the main issue of this communication is to evaluate the musical contribution of each composer to the resulting work, in order to raise the influence of their personal background as well as the way their different strategies of creation may have been transformed by such a heterogeneous context. While some materials can clearly be recognized as being provided by one particular artist, other sequences are more ambiguous and reveal a careful work of collective development, which actually addresses the interactions involved in the compositional process.

Since no documentation subsists from the working sessions, such a study has to lean on a comparative analysis of the sound materials included in the published version of GRM Experience on the one hand and those found in the compositions by the three musicians as soloists on the other hand. This will usefully be completed by a direct account from some of the composers themselves. By investigating the interactions between different compositional methods and aesthetic influences involved in the creation of a unique and coherent work, this contribution leads to further considerations on the musicology of technology-based activities from popular origins, which may benefit from the analytical tools dedicated to electroacoustic music.

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