The birth of the synthesizer and other forms of digital music manipulation helped coin the term “musique concrete“. In the most basic sense, Musique Concrete is the use of white noise in compositions. Wikipedia describes Musique Concrete as “a form of electroacoustic music that is made in part from acousmatic sound. In addition to sounds derived from musical instruments or voices, it may use other sources of sound such as electronic synthesizers or sounds recorded from nature”.2
Some composers using Musique Concrete are purist…in other words, they compose purely through the manipulation of sound. Many songs in our popular genre also utilize components of Musique Concrete mixed with what we are used to hearing on an album or radio station. One group that employed the use of musique concrete considerably early with regard to the rock genre was Pink Floyd. Listen to the example below, “On the Run”. This piece was created “by entering an 8-note sequence (E2 G2 A2 G2 D3 C3 D3 E3) into a synthesizer and speeding it up, with an added white noise generator creating the hi-hat sound”.3
Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters also used a great deal of sequencing and recorded loops for the entire album “Dark Side of the Moon” which was originally titled “The Travel Sequence”. This use of Musique Concrete and sequencing was innovative for its time and stands today as one of the greatest uses of musique concrete in the rock genre.
In this unit, we will be manipulating sounds and creating compositions using noises we hear in our daily lives. We will also consider what is music and what is noise. Is there a difference?
1 Wikepedia. Musique concrete. Retrieved 8.14.13 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musique_concr%C3%A8te
2 Wikepedia. On the Run. Retrieved 8.14.13 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Run_(instrumental)