EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Heritage of Gérard Grisey in China

Bai Zhao

Bai Zhao, Université Paris-Sorbonne, France


PDF - 163.9 kb


After World War II, some countries became the pioneers of the world in terms of culture, politics, science, technology and economy and exerted their influence on China. Among these influences, music and arts from France, Germany and North America were prominent in shaping the Chinese composers. After the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1976, young Chinese composers wanted to continue their studies overseas, studying new compositional techniques still foreign in China. Some of them came to study in France. Among them, were three Chinese students in composition at CNSMD de Paris, who had worked with Gérard Grisey (1946-1998), following an aesthetic born in 1970s, the most famous “French school” – Spectral Music. They are Xu Shuya (in France since 1988), Xu Yi (in France since 1988) and An Chengbi (in France since 1994). And now, they work most of the time as professors in China,
Gérard Grisey was interested in sound. His music focused on the sound’s timbre and harmony, including microinterval, overtone and noise... However, our three Chinese composers have their own original cultures (even though they are Chinese, they are from differents areas of China). How did they adapt to this new approach/concept…? Among the works of these three Chinese composers, I will present and analyse a few music samples by them, such as Xu Shuya’s mixed music in The Great Void II which used microintervals with Flute and Xiao; one of Xu Yi’s principal mixed music works Le Plein du Vide written in 1997, in which she used the I-Ching that corresponds to the 64 hexagrams of the 192 quarters of tone of a full orchestra; and An Chengbi’s mixed music Saek. Gong, for flute, string quartet and fixed sounds. And I shall compare their music to Gérard Griseys’.
In this paper, I will address several issues: what sort of impact did Gérard Grisey leave on his Chinese students, in terms of inspiration? What are the inspiration impacts in the music of these Chinese students after their studies with Gérard Grisey? How does the Spectralism influence their works? How do these Chinese composers mix their culture with Grisey’s? Did they develop Spectral Music into their own language? What will come next in Chinese acoustic music?

EMS14 Proceedings