Poème Électronique (1958)
1928: Fritz Pfleumer invented magnetic tape for sound recording (German-Austrian engineer)
1930s: Magnetophone (AEG, Germany)
1940s: Magnetic tape and tape recorders became prominent.
1940s: Commercially developed in the late 1940s by American Jack Mullin with Bing Crosby
Reel to reel audio tape recording machines spread in 1950s with companies like Ampex
Using magnetic tape for recording and editing sound was the status quo until the mid 1990s when
(computers and digital audio recording).
MAGNETIC TAPE RECORDERS
HOW IT WORKS
SPEED & BANDWIDTH
38 cm/s (15)
20Hz - 20kHz
19 cm/s (7.5)
30Hz - 15kHz
9.5 cm/s (3.75)
40Hz - 13kHz
4.8 cm/s (2)
50Hz - 6kHz
THE ADVANTAGES OF TAPE?
BASIC TAPE MANIPULATION PROCEDURES
1. Speed - transposition
2. Backwards - direction
3. Cutting - remove attacks, change envelopes
4. Splicing - editing, crossfade sounds
5. Tape Loops - create rhythm from repetition
6. Mixing - record multiple layers of sound
7. Delay – run one tape past two machines, mix outputs
ELECTRONIC MUSIC RESEARCH CENTERS
PARIS - COLOGNE - NEW YORK - LONDON - MILAN - ETC
TO RECORD OR TO SYNTHESIZE
Art Music, Serialism
& the Paris Studio
Real world sounds abstracted to be used as musical material.
Acousmatic sound - sound heard without seeing its cause.
Liberated from its source, the sounds could then be used musically as a “sequence of sound objects.”
GRM (Research Group on Concrete Music) established by Pierre Schaeffer in 1951. Part of RTF, the main
radio station in Paris.
Among the composers who worked at the studio in the 50’s: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Olivier Messiaen,
Edgar Varese, Pierre Boulez, and Iannis Xenakis.
The studio continues to thrive today and is active in computer music.
Trained as a radio engineer for RadiodiffusionTelevision Française (RTF) - 1940s
worked creating radio operas, combining nonmusical sounds into montages
Employed ideas of “sound object” from Abraham
working directly with sounds (waveforms), not with
Any sound source could become musical
Listen: Etude Aux Allures (1958)
Pupitre D’Espace (1951) a system for realtime sound spatialization, using four Theremin-like rings to control the
intensity of four speakers: stereo pair, top and rear.
The central concept underlying this method was the notion that music should be controlled during public presentation
in order to create a performance situation; an attitude that remains in acousmatic music to the present day
Pierre(s) - Henry & Schaeffer
teamed with Schaeffer to create Symphonie
Pour Un Homme Seul
Premiered in 1950, broadcast in 1951
epic work using both discs and tape. Eleven
movements each exploring different types of
Listen: Movement VII - Prosopopée II
& the Cologne Studio
NWDR (Northwest German Broadcasting) Studio opens in 1951
Founded by Dr. Werner Meyer-Eppler, Herbert Eimert, Robert Beyer
Synthesized sounds over recorded sounds
An extension of serialism with all musical aspects carefully controlled, such as timbre, duration, volume, etc.
Music Concrete was just “fashionable and surrealistic”
Things changed when Stockhausen took over in 1963 (even before Stockhausen)
listen: Herbert Einmart’s Klangstudie II (1952)
STUDIE II (1953)
Generated sound: Sine wave oscilators,
filters, amplitude modulators and reverb
Serial composition: used rows or sets of
attributes (pitch, attack, timbre, etc) to
determine how to manipulate sounds
Processed in multiple stages: re-recording
with effects and manipulations
GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE (SONG OF THE YOUTHS) (1955-56)
combines electronic sounds with prerecorded and manipulated sounds. Recorded on five distinct tracks and one of
the first surround-sound works.
Three sound sources: a boy soprano, generated sine tones, and generated noises (clicks).
Based on the biblical story of Daniel.
Plays in the space between recognizable speech & ‘abstract’ sound. Phonemes translated to sound, vowels are sine
tones, consonants are bands of noises, plosives are impulses.
Sound as speech, speech as sound.
Built a bridge between French and German schools
Focus on spatialization of sound (Quadrophonic Sound)
Wanted to create the effect of sound spinning around the
listener at different speeds
Spatial projection of sound mixed to stereo, similar to
techniques used later by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Jimi
In 1963, Stockhausen succeeded Eimert as the director of the
Hugh Le Caine
Canadian scientist/composer with the National
Research Council of Canada (NRC) in Ottawa
Transformations of a single sound source as an
organizing principle, the sound of a single drop of
Le Caine also invented the Electronic Sackbut in
1945, an early voltage controlled synthesizer
Listen: Dripsody (1955)
Brussels World’s Fair (1958)
The Philips Pavilion
Brussels World’s Fair
The Philips Pavilion
Philino Agostini - projected visuals
Entrance music by Xenakis “Concret PH”
Main music by Edgard Varèse “Poem Electronique”
Developed at the Philips laboratory in Eindhoven
350 speakers, mounted on walls, with 10 on the floor
500 people saw the 10 minute performance at a time; 2 million had seen it by the end of the Worlds Fair
Poème Électronique (1958)
CONCRET PH (1958)
drawn entirely from the sound of burning charcoal.
Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (1958)
Piece for Tape Recorder (1956)
From Ussachevsky’s Notes on Piece for Tape Recorder
BBC Radiophonic Workshop (1958)
Daphne Oram, Brian Hodgson, Delia Derbyshire, David Cain, and many more...
LOOK AT ORAMICS (1961)
Developed “Oramics” in 1959, a
graphically controlled synthesizer.
Classically trained musician and BBC
Visited Schaeffer and RTF in Paris
First to notate ideas for synthetic sounds
that could be reproduced by soundgenerating instruments
DOCTOR WHO THEME (1963)
Delia Derbyshire & Ron Grainer
OTHER IMPORTANT ELECTRONIC MUSIC CENTERS
Studio di Fonologia Musicale, Italy (1953)
Luciano Berio & Luigi Nono
Nippon Koso Kyokai (NHK) Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (1954)
Toshiro Mayuzumi & Toru Takemitsu
POST WWII MILESTONES
1948 - Musique Concrète, abstract tape music. Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry - l’ORTF radio station in Paris
late 1940s First privately-built studios. Louis and Bebe Barron (1948) & Raymond Scott (1946) (both in NY)
late 1940s - First multitrack tape recorder, popular & commercial music. Les Paul & Raymond Scott (in 2 weeks, Tu)
1951 - Elektronische Musik, music generated by electronic means. Herbert Eimert - Cologne Studio
1951 - Columbia University Studio, tape music. Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky
1950s Chance music, indeterminacy, live electronics. John Cage (Next Tuesday)
1957 - Computer music! Max Mathews working at Bell Labs (in 2 weeks - Th)