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Étude Pathetique [Pathetic Study] (by Pierre Schaeffer)

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About the Piece

One of the ‘Five Studies of Sounds’. Made out of sauce pans, canal boats, singing, speech, harmonica and piano.

Pathetique is a term that is used throughout music to suggest the emotions of pity, grief or sorrow.

Did Schaeffer’s piece make you feel this way?

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 194? 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 envelope of a sound (ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release)an acronym used to describe the shape of sounds over time (see also envelope).More infoADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release)) can greatly affect the way that it is heard.