Raised between two pianos, Bernard Parmegiani “grew up” listening to the daily scales and virtuosic repertoire of his step-father. In terms of pure sound, he learned various techniques through cinema, radio, television and at the Centre d’études radiophoniques. He also refined his ear through his work as a sound engineer. At the same time, Parmegiani’s study of mime over a period of four years at a school run by J. Lecoq and M. Decroux engendered sensitivities to gesture and the plasticity of space. In 1959, Parmegiani joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) where, under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer, he undertook a two-year practicum in electroacoustic music. His first work in this genre, Violostries (1962), later became one of the most important choreographies created by the Théâtre Contemporain d’Amiens, directed by Jacques-Albert Cartier.
After assuming the management of the music image sector of the GRM, Parmegiani came into contact with a number of film makers, and composed music for a number of short and feature-length films by R. Lapoujade, P. Foldès, P. Kamler, V. Borowczyck, P. Kast, J. Baratier, and P. Kassovitz, among others. These experiences gave him the opportunity to make all sorts of musical experiments, for he had complete liberty within the fixed amount of time imposed on him by the duration of the image and its contents, of which he was not the author. He subsequently developed an interest in videography, which he studied in the United States with the help of a bursary from the French ministry of culture. On his return to France, he made three music videos.
Parmigiani’s interest in the intersection of jazz improvisation techniques and electroacoustic music has led him to work with various free jazz groups. Aside from the composition of title music (France-Culture, France-Musique, Antenne 2, Aéroport de Roissy, etc.), and dramatic music for radio, television, film and dance, he has composed some fifty works. Most of these are acousmatic, some are for instruments with tape, and still others various types of “actions musicales” involving performers, actors, and musicians. Programmed as part of international festivals and overseas concerts, some of these works have also earned Parmigiani various awards, including prizes from the Académie du Disque Français (1979), SACEM (1981), Les Victoires de la Musique (1990), and the Prix Magister given at the Concours International de Bourges (1991).