Pierre Schaeffer – Etude aux chemins de fer

The noise collage “Études aux chemins de fer” is seen as the first piece of music to organize noises on the basis of an entirely musical aesthetic. Its first public performance in the «Concert de bruits» radio broadcast in Paris on 5.10.1948, along with three other noise collages, marks the birth of the French «musique concrète» school, which draws its material from sounds that are concretely available, deriving specific creative rules from them in each case.

The «Études aux chemins de fer» is based on recordings that Schaeffer made at the Gare des Batignolles in Paris with the aid of six engine-drivers «improvising» according to his instructions. When working on these as a composer, Schaeffer was aiming among other things to use alienation techniques to expunge the semantic components of the noises and emphasize their musical values like rhythm, tone colour and pitch.

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