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Teaching composition in electroacoustic music, not exactly a straight line… but, a true musical and human adventure

Christian Eloy

Christian Eloy, SCRIME – Université Bordeaux 1


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The first part of this paper traces my own musical journey, a kind of personal adventure of sounds and education, made of straight lines and turns, confrontations between the past and the future, alternating certainties and doubts, reflecting creation and education.
My description of certain bygone times has no intention of recounting any nostalgia or regrets, but only of illustrating my commitment to teaching electroacoustic music for nearly thirty years or so, leading to an understanding of how this commitment has flourished.
We shall also see how the foundations of this education were laid down in the sixties by the strong personalities that were Pierre Schaeffer, a born communicator and educationalist, and also by Ivo Malec, Guy Reibel and others again, who cultivated this taste and this talent to communicate and educate, sometimes merging the two.
Having lived through the change from analog to digital, both as a composer and as an educationalist, it is possible to assert that this period was not “a true revolution“ in the domain of teaching and promulgating this music.
The second part of this paper aims to reveal the synthesis between these foundations or bases, created by analog methods, and the need to follow the arrival of the digital “new technologies“; a synthesis that teachers were obliged to build (often empirically) as these technological developments came along. It also demonstrates how Schaeffer’s experimental approach is still the most solid and pertinent foundation of education in electroacoustic music composition, even though the studios and tools are radically different fourty years on.
For me, acousmatic music remains an extremely demanding way of writing and composition. Thus, critical listening with the class group, peers in some way, remains in our teaching the great moment of education in composition and certainly the most exciting moment in the act and creative process of musical composition for a good number of young composers.
Of course, you still have to keep practicing, “faire ses gammes“ said Pierre Schaeffer, in electroacoustic music! Nothing has changed in that respect!

EMS10 Proceedings