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Études aux chemins de fer (Schaeffer, Pierre), 1948

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responsible for this was based on two aspects: Firstly, Schaeffer concentrated solely on the aesthetic qualities of the sound material, thus largely eliminating the occurrence it connotated. Secondly, he did not force a preformed, superordinate structure onto the material. He stressed that the ‹musique concrète,› a name he chose in order to distinguish it from ways of composing that come from abstract ideas, is always based on the experience of concrete musical material: While traditional composition attains interpretation from the intellectual concept via writing down, for his music Schaeffer uses the reverse path: from listening to the collected material, to sketch-like experiments, finally arriving at the material composition, which is recorded as a finished sound carrier.[17]

In his opinion, sound material can be everything: the primarily noise-like sound occurrences in the environment, linguistic utterances, as well as conventional music. Sounds become so-called ‹objets sonores› when they are recorded technically, but they do not become ‹objets musicaux› until they have been processed in a special way. According to Schaeffer, these methods include the cutting of individual sounds,


the variation of speed, playing from specially manufactured closed record grooves, playing backwards, and the layering of several sounds. The record player becomes a musical instrument the moment creative methods are derived from its specific possibilities. In Schaeffer's first piece, the «Étude aux chemins de fer[18] composed in 1948, ‹musique concrète› anticipates the later DJ methods of cutting, cueing, and in part scratching.


Pop music also received decisive impulses with the introduction of the tape recorder. The playback method, which consists of recording the instruments in a piece of music one after the other, causes reproduction to become the primary instance of music. Now even live performances have to sound like the record. Because more and more complex studio technology is used, the ‹song› in the sense of a certain melody and harmony sequence counts less and less. Instead, ‹sound› has become the central criterion of music styles.[19] This begins with cover versions, for example Jimi Hendrix's version of the American national

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