Gérard Grisey: Partiels

Most of the posts here will detail my experiences listening to music I haven’t encountered before. Today, I chose a piece I’m familiar with but haven’t heard carefully in a long time: Gérard Grisey’s Partiels. Written in 1975, Partiels is part of Les Espaces Acoustiques, a cycle of pieces in which Grisey explored sound and timbre.

Thinking about sound and touch yesterday made me want to listen to Grisey. His music, to me, is very physical. You almost feel his harmonies instead of just hearing them. This certainly happened to me with the beginning of Partiels — I was on the floor of my apartment listening through speakers and could feel the vibrations of the opening low attacks. I had a first listen while cleaning my living room and discovered that our vacuum was sounding a near-perfect seventh partial above that low E. It actually blended with the music quite nicely. Maybe that says something about why I associate Grisey’s music with bodies. We feel his harmonies because they’re so resonant. His sounds vibrate richly and we vibrate in sympathy (as do our vacuums). Partiels almost reaches out and places itself within the resonating chambers of your body.

I’ve little else to say for Grisey today. My apartment is now more clean. I’m not saying that listening to Partiels will declutter your living space, but there does seem to be a highly suggestive correlation.

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