Musique Concrete

Was an approach to music production developed by Frenchmen Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry in the late 1940s and 1950s.

Music was created by manipulating recordings of natural acoustic sounds.

Early work was done on vinyl recordings.

Eventually transferred to the tape recorder when it was developed.

Tape recorder became a more flexible medium.

Techniques Of Music Concrete

Changing tape speed or direction

Tape looping (Much like today’s loops used in computer music programs).

Tape splicing

Addition of external effects like filters or reverb.

The photo shows Pierre Schaeffer in 1952 playing the phonogène à clavier,
a tape recorder with its speed altered by playing any of twelve keys on a keyboard.

Listening Guide

Listen to excerpt from Poeme Electronique by Varese.  Realized by the composer on magnetic tape.
Sounds used are low bell tolls.  Wood Blocks.  Sirens.  Fast taps lead into high, piercing sounds.  Low sustained tones with grating noises. Bongo tones.  Short "Squawks".  Three-tone motif.

Excerpt from Poeme Electronique by Edgard Varese

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