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TAPE MUSIC

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Poème Électronique (1958)

Edgard Varèse

8’

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MAGNETIC TAPE
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MAGNETIC TAPE

1928: Fritz Pfleumer invented magnetic tape for sound recording (German-Austrian engineer)

1930s: Magnetophone (AEG, Germany)

1940s: Magnetic tape and tape recorders became prominent.

1940s: Commercially developed in the late 1940s by American Jack Mullin with Bing Crosby
Reel to reel audio tape recording machines spread in 1950s with companies like Ampex

Using magnetic tape for recording and editing sound was the status quo until the mid 1990s when
(computers and digital audio recording).

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MAGNETIC TAPE RECORDERS

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HOW IT WORKS

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SPEED & BANDWIDTH

Tape Speed (inches/s) Bandwidth Use

38 cm/s (15) 20Hz - 20kHz studio recording

19 cm/s (7.5) 30Hz - 15kHz home recording

9.5 cm/s (3.75) 40Hz - 13kHz general use

4.8 cm/s (2) 50Hz - 6kHz speech dictation

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EDITING TAPE

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THE ADVANTAGES OF TAPE?

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BASIC TAPE MANIPULATION PROCEDURES

1. Speed - transposition

2. Backwards - direction

3. Cutting - remove attacks, change envelopes

4. Splicing - editing, crossfade sounds

5. Tape Loops - create rhythm from repetition

6. Mixing - record multiple layers of sound

7. Delay – run one tape past two machines, mix outputs

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ELECTRONIC MUSIC RESEARCH CENTERS
PARIS - COLOGNE - NEW YORK - LONDON - MILAN - ETC

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TO RECORD OR TO SYNTHESIZE

Music Concrete Elektronische Musik

France Germany

Recorded Sounds Synthesized Sounds

Montage, Film Art Music, Serialism

Pierre Schaeffer Herbert Einmert

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MUSIC CONCRETE
& the Paris Studio

Real world sounds abstracted to be used as musical material.

sound object

Acousmatic sound - sound heard without seeing its cause.

Liberated from its source, the sounds could then be used musically as a “sequence of sound objects.”

GRM (Research Group on Concrete Music) established by Pierre Schaeffer in 1951. Part of RTF, the main
radio station in Paris.

Among the composers who worked at the studio in the 50’s: Karlheinz Stockhausen, Olivier Messiaen,
Edgar Varese, Pierre Boulez, and Iannis Xenakis.

The studio continues to thrive today and is active in computer music.

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PIERRE SCHAEFFER

Trained as a radio engineer for Radiodiffusion-


Television Française (RTF) - 1940s

worked creating radio operas, combining non-


musical sounds into montages

Employed ideas of “sound object” from Abraham


Moles

working directly with sounds (waveforms), not with


symbols (scores)

Any sound source could become musical

Listen: Etude Aux Allures (1958)

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Pupitre D’Espace (1951) a system for realtime sound spatialization, using four Theremin-like rings to control the
intensity of four speakers: stereo pair, top and rear.

The central concept underlying this method was the notion that music should be controlled during public presentation
in order to create a performance situation; an attitude that remains in acousmatic music to the present day

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Pierre(s) - Henry & Schaeffer

teamed with Schaeffer to create Symphonie


Pour Un Homme Seul

Premiered in 1950, broadcast in 1951

epic work using both discs and tape. Eleven


movements each exploring different types of
sounds.

Listen: Movement VII - Prosopopée II

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ELEKTRONISCHE MUSIK
& the Cologne Studio

NWDR (Northwest German Broadcasting) Studio opens in 1951

Founded by Dr. Werner Meyer-Eppler, Herbert Eimert, Robert Beyer

Synthesized sounds over recorded sounds

An extension of serialism with all musical aspects carefully controlled, such as timbre, duration, volume, etc.

Music Concrete was just “fashionable and surrealistic”

Things changed when Stockhausen took over in 1963 (even before Stockhausen)

listen: Herbert Einmart’s Klangstudie II (1952)

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Karlheinz Stockhausen

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STUDIE II (1953)
Karlheinz Stockhausen Score Excerpt

Generated sound: Sine wave oscilators,


filters, amplitude modulators and reverb
(echo) effects

Serial composition: used rows or sets of


attributes (pitch, attack, timbre, etc) to
determine how to manipulate sounds

Processed in multiple stages: re-recording


with effects and manipulations

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GESANG DER JÜNGLINGE (SONG OF THE YOUTHS) (1955-56)
Karlheinz Stockhausen

combines electronic sounds with prerecorded and manipulated sounds. Recorded on five distinct tracks and one of
the first surround-sound works.

Three sound sources: a boy soprano, generated sine tones, and generated noises (clicks).

Based on the biblical story of Daniel.

Plays in the space between recognizable speech & ‘abstract’ sound. Phonemes translated to sound, vowels are sine
tones, consonants are bands of noises, plosives are impulses.

Sound as speech, speech as sound.

Built a bridge between French and German schools

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KONTAKTE (1958)
Karlheinz Stockhausen

Focus on spatialization of sound (Quadrophonic Sound)

Wanted to create the effect of sound spinning around the


listener at different speeds

Spatial projection of sound mixed to stereo, similar to


techniques used later by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Jimi
Hendrix.

In 1963, Stockhausen succeeded Eimert as the director of the


Cologne studio

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Hugh Le Caine

Canadian scientist/composer with the National


Research Council of Canada (NRC) in Ottawa

Transformations of a single sound source as an


organizing principle, the sound of a single drop of
water

Le Caine also invented the Electronic Sackbut in


1945, an early voltage controlled synthesizer
(pictured)

Listen: Dripsody (1955)

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Brussels World’s Fair (1958)
The Philips Pavilion

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Brussels World’s Fair
The Philips Pavilion

Philino Agostini - projected visuals


Entrance music by Xenakis “Concret PH”
Main music by Edgard Varèse “Poem Electronique”
Developed at the Philips laboratory in Eindhoven
350 speakers, mounted on walls, with 10 on the floor
500 people saw the 10 minute performance at a time; 2 million had seen it by the end of the Worlds Fair
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Edgard Varèse

Poème Électronique (1958)


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Iannis Xenakis

CONCRET PH (1958)
drawn entirely from the sound of burning charcoal.

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Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (1958)
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Piece for Tape Recorder (1956)
Vladimir Ussachevsky

From Ussachevsky’s Notes on Piece for Tape Recorder

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BBC Radiophonic Workshop (1958)
Daphne Oram, Brian Hodgson, Delia Derbyshire, David Cain, and many more...
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LOOK AT ORAMICS (1961)
Daphne Oram Drawing Sounds

Developed “Oramics” in 1959, a


graphically controlled synthesizer.

Classically trained musician and BBC


engineer.

Visited Schaeffer and RTF in Paris

First to notate ideas for synthetic sounds


that could be reproduced by sound-
generating instruments

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DOCTOR WHO THEME (1963)
Delia Derbyshire & Ron Grainer

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OTHER IMPORTANT ELECTRONIC MUSIC CENTERS

Studio di Fonologia Musicale, Italy (1953)

Luciano Berio & Luigi Nono

Nippon Koso Kyokai (NHK) Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (1954)

Toshiro Mayuzumi & Toru Takemitsu

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POST WWII MILESTONES

1948 - Musique Concrète, abstract tape music. Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry - l’ORTF radio station in Paris

late 1940s First privately-built studios. Louis and Bebe Barron (1948) & Raymond Scott (1946) (both in NY)

late 1940s - First multitrack tape recorder, popular & commercial music. Les Paul & Raymond Scott (in 2 weeks, Tu)

1951 - Elektronische Musik, music generated by electronic means. Herbert Eimert - Cologne Studio

1951 - Columbia University Studio, tape music. Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky

1950s Chance music, indeterminacy, live electronics. John Cage (Next Tuesday)

1957 - Computer music! Max Mathews working at Bell Labs (in 2 weeks - Th)

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