Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Musique concrète is the name given to a class of electronic music produced from editing together fragments of natural and industrial sounds. Concrète (as opposed to "Abstraite", traditional composition) was pioneered in the late 1940s and 1950s, spurred by developments in microphones and the commercial availability of the magnetic tape recorder, utilized as tape loops.
Pierre Schaeffer, a Paris radio broadcaster, created some of the earliest pieces of Musique Concrète, including "Étude aux chemins de fer" ("Study with Trains"), "Étude au piano I" ("Piano Study I") and "Étude aux casseroles" ("Study with Baking Pans"). Each of these pieces involved speeding up, looping, and reversing recordings of sound sources like trains, piano and rattling cookware. Schaeffer also collaborated with another Musique Concrète pioneer, Pierre Henry . Together, they created pieces such as "Symphonie pour un homme seul" ("Symphony for a Man Alone").
Concrète was combined with other, synthesized forms of electronic music to create Edgar Varèse's "Poème électronique". "Poème" was played at the 1958 Brussels World's fair through 400 carefully placed loudspeakers in a special pavilion designed by Iannis Xenakis.
After the 1950s, Concrète 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 Concrète has experienced a revival in the 1980s and 1990s, 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 concrète. Artists such as Christian Fennesz, Francisco Lopez , and Scanner use many Concrète techniques in their music while often being classified under more common electronica genres such as IDM or downtempo. Music magazines such as The Wire regularly feature articles and reviews of musique concrète.
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