Musique Concrete - [Origins of Electronic & Industrial Music]

Jahsonic.com's Definition of Musique Concrete:
(also known as Electroacoustics) is the name given to a class of electronic music produced from editing together tape-recorded fragments of natural and industrial sounds. Concrete (as opposed to "Abstraite", traditional composition) was pioneered in the late 1940's and 1950's, spurred by developments in microphones and the commercial availability of the magnetic tape recorder.

Pierre Schaeffer, a Paris radio broadcaster, created some of the earliest pieces of Musique Concrete, including "Etude aux chemins de fer" ("Study with Trains"), "Etude au piano I" ("Piano Study I") and "Etude aux casseroles" ("Study with Baking Pans"). Each of these pieces involved splicing, speeding up, looping, and reversing recordings of sound sources like trains, piano and rattling cookware. Schaeffer also collaborated with another Musique Concrete pioneer, Pierre Henry. Together, they created pieces such as "Symphonie pour un homme seule" ("Symphony for a Man Alone").

Concrete was combined with other, synthesized forms of Electronic music to create Edgar Varese's "Poeme Electronique". "Poeme" was played at the 1958 Brussels World's fair through 400 carefully placed loudspeakers in a special pavilion designed by Iannis Xenakis.

After the 1950's, Concrete was somewhat displaced by other forms of Electronic composition, although its influence can be seen in popular music by many bands, including The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Traditional and non-traditional Concrete has experienced a revival in the '80's and '90's, although modern sampling technology is now often used in place of magnetic tape.

Recently, the growing popularity in all forms of electronica has led to a re-birth of Musique Concrete. Artists such as Christian Fennesz, and Francisco Lopez use many Concrete techniques in their music while often being classified under more common electronica genres such as Intelligent Dance Music or Downtempo. Electronica magazines such as The Wire regularly feature articles and reviews of Musique Concr�te. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musique_concr%E8te

First Concert of Musique Concrete
March 18,
1950: First concert of musique concrete, Paris, Auditorium of the Ecole Normale de Musique. First performance of Symphonie pour un homme seul by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry. http://www.ina.fr/grm/presentation/dates.en.html

Film Editing
It is no surprise to find that musique concrete took its inspiration from film editing in many ways, so that sound was organised according to the logic of montage principles, rather than harmonic sequences. Pierre Henry has claimed that musique concrete "proceeds from photography, from cinema", whilst Rob Young has written that "the artistic moment no longer occurred in the written manuscript, nor with the physicality of performance, but became distributed within the manipulation of stock and found sounds, a process resembling film editing." --http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/film/journal/articles/audio-visual-ryhythms.htm

Beatles [...]
By the mid-1960's popular musicians began to exploit the sophisticaited technology of the recording studio. This phenomenon prompted the Beatles to announce that they were retiring from touring because it was impossible to 'reproduce' their recorded music live. On their White Album, the track Revolution Number Nine introduced musique concrete to a wide audience. This track instigated the 'Paul is dead' rumour. --Kevin Concannon http://www.localmotives.com/hoved/tema/nr_2/cut.html [Aug 2004]

Modulations: A History of Electronic Music: Throbbing Words on Sound - Iara Lee;
In this expansive history of
electronic music, Shapiro (The Rough Guide to Drum `n' Bass) chronicles the creative moment of generating sound through sampling, mixing, and manipulation. Written by musicians and aficionados, the articles assembled here form a fascinating account of innovators from John Cage to Miles Davis, thoroughly exploring this sprawling genre and its musical offshoots. Densely packed and meticulously detailed, the book makes some startling geographic and stylistic leaps in an effort to trace the comprehensive history of electronic music. Through interviews, vivid pictures, and crisp commentary, it illustrates how electronic music is now at work in the majority of today's musical styles. This work, a tie-in to Iara Lee's 1998 film of the same name, explores in greater detail some of the same ground covered in J.M. Kelly's The Rough Guide to Techno Music (2000). An essential tool for anyone interested in this music, whether mildly or deeply. -- Caroline Dadas

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