Mireille Chamass-Kyrou: Étude I (1960)
From the album Archives GRM, Disc 2: ”L’Art De L’Étude”
Mireille Chamass-Kyrou, whose very name is a melody, is a Greek-born French composer of electronic music. Born in 1931, Chamass-Kyrou worked for a time at the studio of the Groupe de recherches musicales in Paris, where in 1960 she created this etude, her only known composition. (She is also known simply as Mireille Kyrou, under which name this composition was first released.)
The music unfolds in three brief tableaus. It opens with a slowly building dissonant polyphony of sustained metallic tones. This leads into a second scene, dominated by a percussive clicking sound at once powerfully visceral and acoustically mysterious. (Is it the plucking of metal comb-teeth? Some insectoid stridulation?) The final section is announced by a deep, existential drone, from which emerges the strangely alienated timbre of a human voice. The metallic tones reappear, more violent now, then give way seamlessly to a forlorn concert of Morse code signals, a message cast into the void.
The new instrumentarium: Chamass-Kyrou with wind chimes and a feather duster
In contrast to many of her peers, Chamass-Kyrou embraced the synaesthetic valences of electronic sound: the music should evoke, in her words, “giant molecules, diffuse constellations, and fine sonic dust.” Although the cosmic mood of her Étude is undeniable, she manages to avoid the stereotypes of “space music,” which were already well established by 1960. It is an atmospheric composition of the utmost subtlety.
This track can be found on the highly recommended anthology Archives GRM, a five-disc set released in 2004 and dedicated to the premiere French studio of electronic music. All the usual suspects are here, both GRM stalwarts (Pierre Schaeffer, François Bayle, Ivo Malec) and well-known visitors (Edgard Varèse, Iannis Xenakis). But in addition to this classic material, there are some obscure gems, especially on the first disc, Les visiteurs de la musique concrète, which features rarely heard tape compositions by Pierre Boulez, Darius Milhaud, and Olivier Messiaen.
Played 119 time(s).
September 27, 2011, 9:55pm