Schaeffer, pierre

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Schaeffer, pierre

Schaeffer, Pierre, French acoustician, composer, and novelist; b. Nancy, Aug. 14, 1910; d. Aix-en-Provence, Aug. 19, 1995. Working in a radio studio in Paris, he conceived the idea of arranging a musical montage of random sounds, including outside noises. On April 15, 1948, he formulated the theory of musique concrète, which was to define such random assemblages of sounds. When the magnetic tape was perfected, Schaeffer made use of it by rhythmic acceleration and deceleration, changing the pitch and dynamics and modifying the nature of the instrumental timbre. He made several collages of elements of “concréte music,” among them Concert de bruits (1948) and (with P. Henry) Symphonie pour un homme seul (1950); he also created an experimental opera, Orphée 53 (1953). He incorporated his findings and ideas in the publ. A la recherche de la musique concrète (Paris, 1952) and in Traité des objects sonores (Paris, 1966). Eventually he abandoned his acoustical experimentations and turned to literature. He publ, both fictional and quasi-scientific novels, among them Traité des objets musicaux (1966); Le Gardien de volcan (1969); Excusez-moi si je meurs (1981); Prélude, Prélude, chorale et Fugue (1966).


M. Pierret, Entretiens avec P. S. (Paris, 1969); S. Brunet, P. S. (Paris, 1970).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Schaeffer, pierre

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