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Musique Concrète

  Musique concrète (French, ‘concrete music’) was a term invented by the French composer Pierre Shaeffer in the 1940s for his early form of electronic music. He recorded ‘ordinary’ sounds: birdsong, children shouting in a playground, mechanical noise, rustling leaves, traffic and so on. He then snipped the tape and reassembled the sounds to make a collage which followed the ‘rules’ of music rather than random noise. (The idea was to make an artificial music, analogous to the way concrete is artificial stone: hence the name.) To begin with, recording technology was too primitive to allow any kind of modulation of the sounds. But technical advances soon allowed them to be speeded up, slowed down, played backwards and so on, and increasing sophistication led to the computer manipulation of ‘ordinary’ sounds, ‘sampled’ in the same way as instrumental, synthesized or vocal sound. KMcL  



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