2 09 2009


As a desperate follower of all music based around electronic instruments you are constantly bombarded with rhetorical questions, “How could you listen to that?”, “It just repeats, isn’t that boring?” And my all time favourite “Is that record broken, why is it making that noise?” Usually these sarcastic statements are thrown at you by, putting it nicely, the older generations.  Now these questions don’t usually bother me as I just point at my ears and mouth the words “CAN’T  HEAR YOU!” On many occasions I wish I couldn’t.

So when I stumbled across a mysterious phrase “Musique concrete” on the internet I knew I finally had the ultimate irony. The age gap between the haters and lovers of electronic music is usually quite vast as the once open minded baby boomers begin to become crusty casting aside electronic music as another youth craze. Statements like “ that’s just noise” have been known to spew from my parents mouths when I remember my dad telling me how his dad condemned Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with the same phrase. Seeming these bands are now legendary it is obvious that so too will be Modeselektor, Efdemin, Trentmoller, Deadmau5 and Paul Kalkbrenner.

But the soon to become legendary is not all that backs electronic music. The already famous Fatboy Slim, Aphex Twin, Daft Punk and Jean Michelle Jarre spring to mind but I have found a much deeper argument. 

In the 1940’s a French composer called Pierre Schaeffer developed an idea to study what he described as the real music. His idea was to create recordings of everyday sounds and to rely on sounds not usually related to either music or melodic composition. The idea was focused on the importance of play, where the double meaning of using a musical instrument and enjoying oneself in their surroundings was exploited. This meant that he wanted to capture the sounds of his surroundings and play them as if they where a musical instrument. He made 5 works on tape two of which were called Etude violette (Study in Purple) and Etude aux chemins de fer (Study of Railroads)  these two studies where then premiered in a concert in Paris in 1948, well before the pioneers of rock, The Beatles. The founding’s set by Pierre led the way for several groups to begin further research into these ideas.

The experiments of these early groups were pivotal in the advancement of electronic music and experimental music using filtering, looping and sampling techniques to create strangely mechanical sounds from everyday ambient sounds.

Whilst popular music of the 1940’s reproduced and exploited the Rhythm and Blues, an avant-garde idea was spawning experimentally brilliant music before its time. It was welcomed by a very small audience then, whilst now the reemergence of the ideals have formed some of the freshest ideas in music to date. So to those who don’t welcome the sound of change you may have already missed a life time of it.

By Andrew





One response

7 09 2009

Excellent article. Lots of interesting information presented!

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