Gerard Grisey y la música espectral

  • Jorge Campos


This article focuses on the work of French composer Gerard Grisey, founding father of spectral music, a system of musical thought that revolutionized traditional conceptions of musical composition due to its innovative approach regarding sound phenomena. Dualities such as periodicity-unperiodicity, tension-relaxation, material-process, composition-perception, macrophonic-microphonic, are some of the notions coexisting in the spectral universe that comprises all categories of sound, in a movement of continuous expansion towards new perceptual thresholds.

 The first part of this article makes a journey that starts by intending to define spectral music and, further, by describing its main foundations before exploring some clues that still resonate in the history of music, in order to get closer to its origins, thus determining the consequences and perspectives of this new aesthetic. The article also studies the historical, social and artistic context in Europe and the World in the seventies and eighties, vital periods for spectral music and, particularly, for Gerard Grisey’s creations.

 Based on one of the main characteristics of musical expresion in our time, plurality of thought, different celebrities in the field of musical creation and research state their points of view on spectral music: Hugues Dufourt, philosopher and composer, Tristan Murail, foundation father –together with Gérard Grisey- of this new musical aesthetic, Danielle Cohen-Levinas, philosopher and musicologist, Jean Baptiste Barrière, French composer and researcher, François-Bernard Mâche, composer, Marc André Dalbavie, Laurent Fichet, musicologist, among the most important.

 The second part of the article comprises some fundamental notions of acoustics, such as sound spectrum, harmonic and inharmonic sounds, partial sounds,  frequency and intensity of sound, the Fourier theorem and calculation of harmonics, the sonographer and the sonogram, spectral analysis of sounds and, finally, the contribution of informatics to the internal exploration of the vibratory phenomenon.

 The artistic career  of composer Gerard Grisey is studied in a detailed manner, as well as his formative and consolidation years in the field and the most prominent stylistic features of 'liminal' music, name given by the composer to his music.

The last part of this article focuses on the importance that certain visionary celebrities had on the emergence of spectral music, such as André Jolivet, Charles Ives,  Anton Webern, Edgar Varèse, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Giorgi Ligeti, Giacinto Scelsi and the French-Romanian composer Horatiu Radulescu, among the most outstanding

Jan 4, 2018
How to Cite
CAMPOS, Jorge. Gerard Grisey y la música espectral. Colloquia, Academic Journal of Culture and Thought, [S.l.], v. 4, p. 66 - 101, jan. 2018. ISSN 1390-8731. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 05 oct. 2023. doi: