Kari Besharse


The Role of Texture in French Spectral Music

My dissertation, The Role of Texture in French Spectral Music, examines the essential role of texture in French spectral music and its contribution to musical evolution and form in specific works by Gérard Grisey, Tristan Murail, Philippe Hurel, and Kaija Saariaho. The use of texture in French spectral music is placed in a historical context by exploring new ways that texture is employed in twentieth-century music; most importantly, the emphasis placed on the global characteristics of texture as opposed to the individual voice or line, and the importance of timbre as opposed to pitch-centric notions of organization. Texture is examined as a formally determinant element in spectral works using a method tailored specifically for textural analysis.  Extended excerpts from Gérard Grisey’s Modulations and Philippe Hurel’s Six miniatures en trompe-l’œil analyzed from the standpoint of texture, show how transformations from texture type to texture type contribute to formal evolution in spectral music.

The Role of Texture in French Spectral Music is available through ProQuest.


Reconsidering Texture in French Spectral Music: An Analytical Approach to Density, Spacing and Interaction of Voices in the Works of Spectral Composers

The compositional aesthetic of French composers Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail is often described as privileging musical timbre, the inner structure of sound, time, and listener perception. However, attention to the important role given to musical texture—the vertical interaction and relation between voices or parts—by these composers is absent from theoretical literature. Previous analyses of spectral music have focused on pitch-centered approaches that emphasize the use of the overtone series, how the composer uses the spectrum of a sound to create spectral harmonies, and how this spectral data is manipulated through additional processes. While these are all important aspects of spectral music, not enough emphasis has been placed on the way individual sounds are grouped together into globally perceived textures, and how these textures are shaped in time. This paper offers an alternative method for understanding the works of French spectral composers by focusing on the analysis of musical texture by paying particular attention to the density, spacing, and interaction of voices.

This paper was presented at Gerard Grisey, the spectral moment, and its legacy at Université de Montréal on Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Please contact me for more information.


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