Musique Concrète

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Musique Concrète


works of music created with tape recordings of natural or artifically produced sounds, which, at the composer’s discretion, can be subjected to various acoustic modifications and then mixed.

Musique concrète relies primarily on the sound of various noises, but human voices and musical instruments may also be used. It was introduced by the French acoustical engineer P. Schaeffer, who created his first “concrete” compositions in 1948. A group of musicians opened a studio at Central Radio Broadcasting in France in the 1950’s to experiment with musique concrete; other such groups emerged in Italy, West Germany, and the USA.

Supporters claim that musique concrète “expands infinitely” the expressive means of musical art by introducing the entire world of sounds surrounding man into a composition. Actually works of musique concrete, which break with the system of pitch organization of sound, extremely impoverish the expressive possibilities of what artistic content they may have and are capable only of fulfilling a purely applied role (supplying noises for motion pictures and stage productions, for example). Musique concrète is a manifestation of the crisis in the musical culture of bourgeois society.


Shneerson, G. O muzyke zhivoi i mertvoi, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1964.
Shneerson, G. Frantsuzskaia muzyka XX veka, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.