36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 080: Musique concrète sounds good


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

Day 80 — Musique concrète sounds good
21-October-1971 (Thur.)


Full day. Lesson. Practice. Classes. Concert.

Übung. Class for electronic musik. Very interesting. Learned how to splice out unwanted sounds from tape. (2) How to run 3 tapes at same time and tape them each with separate adjusting levels. Filters also. Right now, technology is difficult, but the idea still comes through.

BBC concert again. Very enjoyable (more contemporary orientation). Debussy very nice. Schoenberg. Bartok. I would like to hear again.


Übung—exercise. The German word ubüng means exercise, and is often used in German instrumental clavier-übung method books. (piano exercises) I had to look it up. Today, the exercises refer to techniques that we are learning in our first “lab” class on electronic music class. As I will discover, the class is actually based in the techniques of musique concrète, a style of contemporary music often associated with 20th-century avant-garde music.

Musique concrète. This style of music began in the 1940s and continued through the 1950s and 1960s. It is often credited to being founded by French composer, Pierre Schaeffer. The musical style of musique concrète is based on the recording of natural sounds and their manipulation with tape recorders and other electronic equipment. It was in effect, composing with “sound.” Definitely avant-garde, contemporary, and different. Many musicians and people do not consider this music, however, it influenced the field of “electronic music” which followed it.

I was fascinated by this genre and other forms of contemporary music. This class and its projects would become an important part of this year and my first experimentation with contemporary music.

Tape techniques. Some of the techniques we learned this first day were the editing and splicing of tapes, playing multiple tapes and recording the three layers on another recorder, volume control, and filtering.

Electronic music and musique concrète have passed their heyday. They have left their influence on modern music composition, avant-garde and multimedia performance pieces, music recording, sound design, and the movie and music industries.

It will be a fun class.

Evening concert. Another concert by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, this one in a contemporary vein with works by Debussy, Schoenberg, and Bartok. This time, I don’t get backstage to meet hornist Alan Civil or anyone else.

Till tomorrow.


- - - -