Still from Bernard Parmegiani’s L’Ecran Transparent (1973)
Of all the composers associated with the legendary Parisian electroacoustic studio Groupe De Recherches Musicales, Bernard Parmegiani has come to command the greatest respect and adoration. Though often overlooked until his later years, long resting in the shadow of his more famous peers – Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari, and Iannis Xenakis, his legacy now towers over the rest – the great master of his field. Beyond the remarkable body of sound he left behind, Parmegiani deserves recognition for his adventurous creative spirit – working on his own, and collaborating with others, across genre (the Third Ear Band) and media – film video etc- an artifact of which, lays before us.
Parmegiani began his creative life as a mime, but shifted gears in 1959 – becoming one of the first students at Groupe de Recherches Musicales, not long after it was established by Pierre Schaeffer. He supported himself as a a sound engineer, before taking a position as the head of the Music/Image division of French television. A reasonable amount of his output was composed to accompany film, but in 1973 – during a residency in Köln, he made, and composed for, one of his own – L’Ecran Transparent. It’s a brilliantly playful work. Largely built from montages images – some shot, some found, the film is imbued with a profound belief in the accessibility of avant-garde sound – at once a strange and wry users manual, and a work of art. The soundtrack is fantastic in its own right, but accompanied by moving image, it opens a rare window into one of the most important composers of the last century’s thoughts. A highly recommended artifact from another era – radical, optimistic, and filled with humor and joy.
Bernard Parmegiani – L’Ecran Transparent (The Transparent Screen) 1973