Musique Concrete and Soundscape Composition Musique Concrete History and Composers It had not been easy for researchers to point clearly, when the idea of music really began. This is because even the anthropologist have thought that even the cave dwellers might have developed music of their own by stamping their feet, hand clapping, as well as noise making as a means of singing…
Even the origin of the conventional modern keyboards can be traced to the early development of traditional instrumental music. Despite the situation, things began to change in the middle 20th century just after the Second World War at around 1948 when some French musicians such as Pierre Schaefer and Pierre Henry began to play music using recoded sounds (AMG Staff 2012). As time progressed, they realized that tape-recorded was a good invention since it gave them the opportunity to do things, which they could not do without sound recording. This is because, through tape recording, they could now be able to speed up or slow down sound; make them quieter or louder; filter the sound; repeat, as well as play the sound backwards (AMG Staff 2012). As a result, they were now able to convert any real life sound such as concrete sounds, rattle of lids of saucepans, crying babies among others into music. The origin of Musique Concrete, however, can be traced back to 1940s brought about by the invention of a quality analogue tape recorder for researchers and musicians (Dack 1994, p.4). The two music pioneers, Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaefer while working for ORTF in France began to examine ways of altering the sound they tape-recorded. It is now that Schaeffer introduced the term Musique Concrete in 1948, which according to him meant that concrete, abstract sounds were used as the main ingredients of music according to Dack (1994, p.4). The whole notion behind Musique Concrete is that the composer starts with a set of “concrete” sounds, which is organized into a piece of music. As a result, theory and traditional musical instruments do not limit the composer of such a piece of music. This implies that they are at liberty to use any sound that they feel appeals to them, and the audience to achieve the final music. The Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrete [GRMC - Musique Concrete Research Group] was the first music group to be formed and specialized mainly in the recording of Musique Concrete pieces (Battier 2007). Consequently, Etude aux chemins de fer is arguably the first piece of Musique Concrete recorded by Pierre Schaeffer at around the same time. The Etudes were produced using children’s toys, locomotive sounds, and spinning of pot lids. The first piece of Etude was broadcast in October 1948, which generated different reactions from musical circles and the press (Battier 2007). In the next concert held in March 1950, Schaeffer decided to seek for the assistance of Pierre Henry another music composer who later emerged as a famous composer of Musique Concrete genre. After coming together, the two collaborated composing the famous Symphonie pour un homme seul, as well as each composer presenting their individual composition according to Battier (2007). It is reported that the music concert attracted other French composers such as Olivier Messaien. In 1951, Schaeffer acquired the first tape recorder in his studio, which enabled him to transform original sound material according to Lange (2009, P.174). This new technique involved the use of tape loops, splicing, cutting, and change of direction. This technique later attracted the attention of many international composers including Iannis Xenakis (left), a Greek mathematician who developed Concrete PH, ...
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