The Birth of Electronic Music

The advent of magnetic tape recording drastically changed the face of sound, music, and culture. Acousmatic sound, or sound with no perceivable source, had called into question many traditions of musical production. How would the role of the performer change if their performance could be repeated indefinitely without their presence? Is a concert without performers even a concert at all? What constitutes as music when sounds outside of musical instruments are introduced to composition?

Avant garde composers were the first to apply magnetic tape recording and sound editing outside of military surveillance (its origin and original purpose) and preserving performances. It was they who brought the big questions about the future of music to light while pushing the boundaries to what was then regarded as absurdity. Suddenly, one didn’t need extensive music training to compose audible art. Using the sounds of everyday life or pure digital tones puts the power to create in the hands of anyone with the technology and drive to do so. As someone who could never get excited about the large mathematical puzzle that is music theory and composition, this aspect of sound technology is what resonates with me most deeply.

Here I have created a mashup which chronicles the first invasion of unfaithful reproduction into the music world. The works featured include narration from the BBC documentary The New Sound of Music, two pieces by Pierre Schaeffer, who was part of the Musique Concrete movement in France, and two pieces by Karlheinz Stockhausen, the most famous composer of the Elektronische Musik movement in Germany.

And now, enjoy a four minute journey back to post world war Europe, and hear for yourself what these musical radicals had to say about the world they lived in.

To Listen, Click Here

Songs Featured in Order of Appearance:
Etude aux chemins de fer  – Schaeffer
Apostrophe – Schaeffer
Studie II – Stockhausen
Gesang der Junglinge – Stockhausen

~ Gabi J.


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