After training for the wine trade, Barraud turned to a musical career and studied composition, fugue and orchestration at the Paris Conservatoire. He was soon expelled from the school for writing a string quartet that was too unconventional. He participated in organizing Resistance broadcasting in France and later became director of the Programme National. In this position he introduced many new types of music to the French public and generally helped to raise the French standards of performance. Barraud's compositons are graceful, moving and always inventive. He rejected the use of avant-garde methods for mere effect or style, and during the 1960's he stopped composing altogether in order to study new compositional techniques and how they might be useful for his own musical language.