Alistair MacDonald More from the press

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What is musique concrète?

BBC Bitesize, February 19, 2020

Musique concrète is a style of experimental music that is composed using recorded sounds.

Musique concrète originally dates from the late 1940s. Pierre Schaeffer and colleagues working for France’s public radio station, Radiodiffusion française (RDF) experimented with sound effects and other ‘real’ sounds recorded on disc. They played sounds forwards and backwards, changing their length, pitch and volume. The finished compositions were montages of sound. These experiments paved the way for the use of technology as part of the composing process, such as the use of samples and loops. Since then, this type of composition has moved from working with discs, to magnetic tape, to electronic sound files.

[Video: Alistair MacDonald discusses musique concrète and his own composition Final Times (1998).]

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