Musique concrete core-text finally translated

One of electronic music's most important texts, Pierre Schaeffer's À La Recherche D'Une Musique Concrète, will be finally be readable in English, 60 years after its original French run.


Words by: Charlie Jones

In 1952, French musician, composer and broadcaster Pierre Schaeffer invented musique concrete, a revolutionary idea that took sounds from nature and machines to make what has been called the first true electronic music.

Gross simplifications aside, his far-out ideas about tape technology and his wonderful imagination have made him posthumously a key pioneer in the development of music which you probably know and love. In his most famous work, In Search of a Concrete Music, he wrote:

La cohérence de cette perspective nous mène […] aux machines de la cybernétique. Seules en effet, des machines de ce genre (probablement de plusieurs tonnes et coûtant des centaines de millions!), que des circuits oscillants dotent d’une certaine mémoire, permettront le jeu infini des combinaisons numériques complexes qui sont la clé de tous les phénomènes musicaux.

(The coherence of this perspective leads us to cybernetic machines. Indeed, only machines of this type (probably weighing several tons and costing hundreds of millions!), with oscillating circuits equipped with a certain memory, will permit endless play with complex numerical combinations, which are the key to all musical phenomena.)

Now, happily, senior lecturer at Middlesex University John Dack and retired Middlesex University French lecturer Christine North have translated this core text into English in full for the first time for University Of California Press.

It’s not out till November, but until then, watch this video:

Huge thanks to The Wire for the tip off!