Philippe Gonin

Continuity and Discontinuity in the Formal Creative Process in the Music of Pink Floyd from Atom Heart Mother to The Wall

The music of Pink Floyd can be split into several different periods since the “Syd Barrett” era until “Gilmour” era. If, from the Barrett’s years to the early seventies, the band  was still an experimental group, in its golden age, from The Dark Side of The Moon to The Wall, it started to stabilize some of its creative processes, in particular at the level of the structural plans.
Following Ian Bent’s assertion that  the ‘structure’ can be a part of a work, a whole work, a group of works or even a repertoire (forthcoming from either a written or an oral tradition), we will show that in Pink Floyd's music of the ‘70, the same creative process can be revealed in the macro structure of a piece (which is composed of several sequences), in one side of an album, or even in an entire album.
However easily this process can be detected, it nevertheless reveals a method of elaboration which is based on discontinuity. Indeed, an advanced study of sources highlights that the songs are not conceived in their entirety from the first sketches, but created by the addition and/or removal of different elements that sometimes stem from “recycled” sources (Nick Mason).
In this presentation, I will demonstrate which elements belong to the deeper structure, and which ones to the outer shape of the composition.