Musique Concrete

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Musique Concrete is the name given to a class of electronic music produced from tape-recorded fragments of natural and industrial sounds. Concrete (as opposed to "Abstraite", traditional composition) was pioneered in the late 1940s and 50s, spurred by developments in microphones and the commercial availability of the magnetic tape recorder.

Pierre Schaeffer, a Paris radio broadcaster, created some of the earliest pieces of Musique Concrete, including "Etude aux Chemins de Fer" ("Study with Trains"), "Etude au Piano I" ("Piano Study I") and "Etude aux Casseroles" ("Study with Baking Pans"). Each of these pieces involved splicing, speeding up, looping, and reversing recordings of sound sources like trains, piano and rattling cookware. Schaeffer also collaborated with another Concrete pioneer, Pierre Henri. Together, they created pieces such as "Symphonie pour un Homme Seule" ("Symphony for a Man Alone").

Concrete was combined with other, synthesized forms of Electronic music to create Edgar Varese's "Poem Electronique". "Poem" was played at the 1958 Brussels World Fair through 400 carefully placed loudspeakers in a special pavilion designed by Iannis Xenakis.

After the 1950s, Concrete was somewhat displaced by other forms of Electronic composition, although its influence can be seen in popular music by many bands, including Pink Floyd. Traditional and non-traditional Concrete has experienced a revival in the 1980s and 90s, although modern sampling technology is now often used in place of magnetic tape.