This is the document that I handed out in class to offer a overview of the information that I had encountered about Spectral Music. It is meant as a tool for the student to consult during the discussion as well as something they can use after the lecture.

Spectral Music

  1. Technical Information

    Background Concepts

    Compositional Techniques

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  1. Composers (Not all are “Spectral Composers” but they all exhibit thinking and pieces in the field of spectral music.

70's & 80's

Quotes – Gerard Grisey

What, for me, is very important is to have a sort of ecological attitude toward different sounds, to just accept them as they are and try to find the right place or right function for them in the context of the piece.

there are three composers that have had a strong impression upon me as a young composer. Messaien, who was my teacher for four years, for the sense of color and harmony and translucence. Second, I would name Stockhausen for the sense of the dramaturgy, the sense of form and time. And Ligeti, as third, for his use of extended time and continuity. (Sense of what he got from each, how is this manifest in music?)

I personally start more with the physical aspect of things, the physical aspect of sounds, of different spectrums, the quality of spectrums. And I leave the rest -- it might be most important -- but I leave the cultural aspect to the audience. To the listener. And also the completely enormous subconscious aspect of writing music -- which I am totally unaware of what I am doing.

Tristan Murail


many new tools at the disposal of the musican -intellectual tools as well as material

tools. Sounds - and images as well - can now be synthesized. The process of synthesis

is completely unprecedented : visual and auditory signals can be calculated altogether.

Pieces to Play


In looking back at this document and rethinking the class presentation I am thrilled with the inclusion of quotes from the various composers. This was something that illicited a large amount of conversation. It was an idea that I generated from attending Robert Cogans presentations and along with the musical examples indicates far more about these composers than I could hope to capture in words. That supports <Principle #6: The teacher uses knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom. >