Robert Léonard | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Robert Léonard

(Joseph Jean Denis) Robert Léonard. Teacher, 'animateur,' percussionist, b Montreal 16 Sep 1938; B MUS (Montreal) 1966, L MUS (Montreal) 1969.

Léonard, Robert

(Joseph Jean Denis) Robert Léonard. Teacher, 'animateur,' percussionist, b Montreal 16 Sep 1938; B MUS (Montreal) 1966, L MUS (Montreal) 1969. After studies 1960-9 at the University of Montreal with, among others, Jean Vallerand (history, orchestration), Clément Morin (Gregorian chant), and Jean Papineau-Couture (theory, composition), he studied percussion 1970-3 with Robert Leroux privately. Between 1976 and 1982, he made various trips for study and encounter sessions in 'animation musicale' in France with Renaud Gagneux, Louis Roquin, and Michel Sbar, among others. He joined the Faculty of Music of the University of Montreal in 1968, where he taught (20th century repertoire and history), was vice-dean 1976-81, and was a founding member of the Nocturnales, of the Groupe informatique-musique, and of the Atelier-laboratoire. Beginning in 1979, he devoted himself to 'animation musicale' and has been research director in this discipline. As such he founded the Groupe d'animation musicale (GAM) in 1979, followed by the Groupe de recherche en animation musicale (GRAM, 1980-2) and the Atelier d'élaboration de jeux sonores (AEJS, 1983-). The 'jeux sonores' ('sound games'), original musical pieces, or pieces inspired by familiar works or by non-Western music, are conceived collectively and notated in such a way as to allow performances by a public lacking any notion of music theory. By 1991, more than 50 scores had been written. Beginning in 1987, the GAM87, a group of six professional musicians under his direction, has devoted itself mainly to the propagation of 'sound games' and to games related to works from the repertoire of contemporary music, promoting the practice of concert participation, which alternates explanation, performance by the ensemble, and a reading workshop with the public, of a musical score in non-traditional notation. By 1991, the group had already given some 60 workshops, demonstrations, and participatory concerts in Montreal and the surrounding region.

Léonard has published his research findings in Quatorze jeux sonores (Monographies de recherche de la faculté de musique no. 1, 1982), and in the article '... Vivre les musiques et les hommes..'. (Dérives, 44-5, 1984); 17 sound games accompanied by a cassette were also published by the University of Montreal Press in 1991.

Léonard was a percussionist 1979-90, then in charge of special events and program animator of the 'brunch-rencontres' at the Événements du neuf. On CBC radio he has been a broadcaster and editor of the program 'Musique actuelle' 1987-90 and a frequent guest on 'Chronique du disque' and other programs.

Challenge yourself - take the CC Quiz!

The Canadian Encyclopedia is a project of Historica Canada, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization devoted to teaching Canadians more about our shared country.  We also produce the Heritage Minutes and other programs. If you believe all Canadians should have access to free, impartial, fact-checked, regularly updated information about Canada’s history and culture in both official languages, please consider donating today. All donations above $3 will receive a tax receipt.

Book a Speaker