36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 190: The Sound of Breaking Glass


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 190 — The Sound of Breaking Glass
08-February-1972 (Dienstag–Tue.)


1971 Electronic music class with Dieter Kaufmann.

Began my “private electronic music work” on the book possibility. Began with “1 sound” (glass breaking) – proceeded from there. Spent 10-1/2 hours in the lab. Got something done. No practicing, however.

Send a letter (in German; good practice) to Elisabeth.


The sound of breaking glass. In electronic music, I now decide to begin on the “book” project, where I am supposed to take a single sound—I chose to break a glass—and show how it can be manipulated with musique concrète techniques. I remember, Prof. Kaufmann and the class helping with the recording of the sound, the mic had to be brought out from a locked closet. Then, I spent over 10 hours working with the sound. Opening photo is that of Prof. Kaufmann and our electronic music class.

I was fascinated by sound and what you could do with it!

Day 1. I won’t talk about it now, but this day, and this sound, was the beginning of an experimental journey in creating music with “raw sound,” a journey that I will never forget. My work did end up as a completed composition, with a portion of the music and score used in a Universal Edition education book—the reason that the man approached our class in the first place.

Lost tape, lost composition. My concrète piece, if I remember correctly, was over 20 minutes long at it’s first electronic performance. A bit long. It was a programmatic piece with many natural sounds. Perhaps a bit corny and certainly not a masterpiece. I then revised it to perhaps 10 minutes. It was a good example of the manipulations of musique concrète. I remember Prof. Kaufmann had programmed the piece on other concerts in the few years after my stay in Vienna. I believe that I have lost this tape and haven’t heard it in many years. I will have to search, perhaps.

Amazing Internet. A few days ago, I decided to search for the music on the Internet, and amazingly, a short 1-2 minute audio excerpt of the piece was in an educational or professor’s archive on experimental music. It was an example of how a single sound could be manipulated. Isn’t that AMAZING—that this lost bit of my personal music history is on the Internet? This was music from over 36 years ago.

In the future, I will post the excerpt.

Influences. In my future work after Vienna, as a student, I use some musique concrète techniques in some electronic works at both Indiana University and Ohio State University. As a young music teacher (band teacher), I won a small grant to start an electronic music program where middle school students (grades 7–9), explore and create electronic music, musique concrète and filmmaking. They did a wonderful job. See, I was influenced! Thanks again, Prof. Kaufmann.


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