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Music concrète

Seminar ListAbstract • PreparationMain Text


I have always had a battle with the machines; not for aesthetic reasons but for reasons of quality. At the beginning of music concrète we worked with discs, but the result of copying a piece of sound was quite poor. So I have always struggled to have the sounds retain their transparency. Now I have conquered these problems, thanks to digital techniques. It is possible to make a perfect copy, but I am worried about the machines doing the work that I should be doing. This is the case with many of the logical catalogues that are available to which one can subscribe. The computer works instead of you. The computer has decided. I think that we now live in a dangerous age because the composer should certainly not work with a tap, that he can open or close. That's a very bad development.
Pierre Henri, Interview with Pierre Henri (This interview was made possible thanks to Jerome Noetinger of Metamkine. For those who would like to read more on the life of Pierre Henry, Michel Chion wrote a biography in 1980, published by Fayard in Paris, and available from Metamkine, 13 rue de la Drague, 38600 Fontaine, France. The interview and text are by and © Ios Smolders, and originally appeared in issue 44 of Vital magazine, in 1995. This version has been slightly edited by Brian Duguid; some quotes by Ios, Henry and Michel Chion have been altered to make them read better in English.)
Post-war divergence between France (Paris) and Germany (Kologne).
1942, Schaeffer, Studio d'Essai (Paris)
Equipment originally simple direct disc-cutting lathe;
Anticipated in thought the mellotron (1963);
Etude aux chemins de fer
Etude pour piano et orchestre

Fundamental difficulties in establishing a 'grammar' for musique concrete.

Schaeffer tried to establish why his transformation procedures failed to 
remove or alter significantly many of the distinctive characteristics of his 
sound sources.  He concluded that techniques such as playing recordings at 
different speeds or in reverse, and the use of elementary montage, did not 
produce anything essentially new.
Peter Manning, Electronic Music



* Not in APU Library

Interview with Pierre Henri


I believe that the use of noise...to make noise...will continue and increase until we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments...which will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard. Photoelectric film and mechanical mediums for the synthetic production of music...will be explored. Whereas, in the past, the point of disagreement has been between dissonance and consonance, it will be, in the immediate future between noise and so-called musical sounds. Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise...




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