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Étude aux Chemins De Fer [Railway Study] (by Pierre Schaeffer)

Pierre SCHAEFFER dans le studio de la rue de l'Université (1963), Laszlo Ruszka ©INA-GRM

The first of the studies that Pierre Schaeffer created, and perhaps the most famous of them.

About the Piece

Étude aux Chemins De Fer (In English: Railway Study) was the first of the ‘Five Studies in Sound’ that Pierre Schaeffer created, and perhaps the most famous of them.

Pierre Schaeffer took his recording equipment to the local railway depot, and recorded the trains shunting about in the sidings.

He then took the recordings back to the studio and used Pitch Shifting This refers to the changing of the pitch in either direction. Traditionally pitch shifting went hand in hand with the change of speed of a tape recorder. More infopitch-shift , Time-StretchingA manipulation in which the Duration of a sound is altered. Time stretching can be used to make sounds longer or shorter.More infotime-stretching, LoopTo loop a sound is to continuously repeat it. More infolooping and EditingThe process of selection, cutting, layering and ordering through which elements are combined and polished in the creation of a final work.More infoediting to turn his recordings into an exploration of the sounds that he had captured.

Fact

Back in 1948 Schaeffer had to make all of his recordings onto vinyl disks (like LP records).

About the Composer

Pierre Schaeffer worked as a radio technician for the French national radio and whilst working there began to experiment with recorded sounds.

In 1946 he convinced the radio station to develop a studio and research group to properly investigate recorded sounds. This group later became the GRM (Musical Research Group)a group of composers and researchers working to experiment and explore sounds. With studios at Radio France in Paris (the national French radio station).More infoGRM (Musical Research Group).

He made his first solo compositions in 1948, the ‘Five Studies of Sounds’.

Pierre Schaffer made many further musical works and wrote extensively on the subject of creating music with recorded sounds. His ideas have influenced many, many composers who followed him. He was one of the first people to recognise that the EnvelopeThe shape of a sound over time.More infoenvelope of a sound can greatly affect the way that it is heard.

Collage

An artwork in which small fragments are cut and pasted together to make a larger final work. In sound-based music this may concern extremely brief elements of sound material up to musical fragments. [EARS]

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Editing

The process of selection, cutting, layering and ordering through which elements are combined and polished in the creation of a final work.

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Loop

To loop a sound is to continuously repeat it.

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Musical Listening

Listening to sounds in terms of their own sonic and musical characteristics. It is the opposite of [ears2_encyclopaedia_entry_link id="175"]Contextual listening[/ears2_encyclopaedia_entry_link].

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Musique Concrète

A term created by Pierre Schaeffer in 1948 to describe his new music, which started from the concrete sound material, from heard sound.

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Pitch Shifting

This refers to the changing of the pitch in either direction. Traditionally pitch shifting went hand in hand with the change of speed of a tape recorder.

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Schaeffer, Pierre

a radio engineer and composer who founded the group that became the GRM (Musical Research Group). He studied sounds and developed the idea of Musique Concrète.

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Timbre

The colour or quality of a sound. A combination of all other properties that makes each sound unique.

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Time-Stretching

A manipulation in which the Duration of a sound is altered. Time stretching can be used to make sounds longer or shorter.

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Turntabalism

A turntablist is a musician who conceives the scratching and mixing of records on a twin-deck turntable as an artistic and expressive medium.

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