Daniel Teruggi:
GRM at 50

November 9, 2008
Suzanne Thorpe

On Friday, November 14, Electronic Music Foundation will present a concert and champagne reception to honor the 50th anniversary of the Paris-based Groupe de Recherches Musicales (Music Research Group), the world's first electronic music research group. Our guests from Paris will be Daniel Teruggi, director of GRM, François Bayle, past director, and Marc Battier, professor at the Sorbonne. As current director, Daniel Teruggi presides over the development of tools for creativity and education as well as an active schedule of concert productions throughout Europe. The following description by Teruggi of the mission, history, and activities of GRM was recorded by Joel Chadabe on November 5 in Paris.


The story of GRM begins 60 years ago, in April 1948, when Pierre Schaeffer, an engineer for the French Broadcasting Company, took a sound truck to a railroad switching yard at Batignolles, in Paris, to record the sounds of steam locomotives, wheels, and whistles. He used the sounds to compose Etude aux Chemins de Fer (Railroad Study) and coined the term 'musique concrète' to mean music composed with sounds (as against symbols for sounds). Following an enormously successful broadcast of a Concert de Bruits (Concert of Noises) in October 1948, he initiated a succession of research projects that culminated in 1958 in the official formation of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales with François Bayle, Luc Ferrari, Iannis Xenakis, and several other composers. The goal was to explore the new creative possibilities in using all sounds in music. The result was the beginning of a musical revolution.

Daniel Teruggi, current director of GRM, tells the story. He focuses on the need for a group project ...

Why a group? Because the project needed a diversity of skills and perspectives.

Schaeffer’s interests diversified and François Bayle became director of the GRM, leading the organization into the digital age and into an association with the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA). Teruggi, as director, continues the expansion and diversity of activities.

He concludes: "So that's in a very quick pace the history of the past 60 years and probably the next 20."

More on the concert

GRM website

Photo by Joel Chadabe