for violin, cello, flute, clarinet and piano

«Talea», in Latin, means “cutting”. In medieval music this term designates a reiterated rhythmic pattern to which a configuration of pitches called «color», likewise reiterated and coinciding or not with the first, is grafted. In the twentieth century we have rediscovered this dissociation between pitches and durations.

The idea of a “cutting” of the initial idea, of putting the various rhythmic structures in phase and out of phase, as well of a structure in two parts in which the second could easily be termed “color”, have suggested the title of this quintet to me.

In Talea I tackle two aspects of musical discourse from which my research on instrumental synthesis, on microphonics and on contiguous transformations had estranged me, that is, speed and contrast.

Talea consists of two parts linked together without interruption which express two aspects or, more precisely, two auditory angles of a single phenomenon.

Thus this single gesture (fast, fortissimo, ascending – slow, pianissimo, descending) is presented in the first part by durations of medium length and gradually eroded to the point of levelling off the contrasts. In the second part, it expresses the overall form and the succession of sequences. It is polyphonic in the first part and homophonic in the second.

From the perceptual point of view, the first part seems to me like an inexorable process, a veritable machine for forging the freedom which will emerge in the second part. The course of the latter is in fact pierced by more or less irrational emergences, kinds of recollections from the first part, which gradually assume the color of the new context until they become unrecognizable. These wild flowers, these rank weeds pushing up in the interstices of the machine, grow in importance and then overflow until they give the sections into which they have wormed their way like parasites an entirely unexpected coloration.

Gérard Grisey



Gerard Grisey


  • Ricordi Milano

Catalogue number

  • 139436

Number of instruments

  • 5


  • Chamber Music

Notes first performance

Paris 01/01/87


  • 15 minutes


For information on music rental umpcrental@umusic.com

Rental online: www.zinfonia.com

For more information about the author or about this work: umpcpromotion@umusic.com