Discover the exciting world of electroacoustic music and learn to make music with sounds.

Musique Concrète

Equipe du GRM dans le studio 54 du centre Bourdan (2) (1972), Laszlo Ruszka ©INA-GRM

Musique Concrète uses real world sounds, focusing on the musical parameters of sound rather than the sound source itself.

Where Did It Begin?

Musique Concrète was invented in the Paris studios founded by Schaeffer, Pierrea 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.More infoPierre Schaeffer. He and his colleagues were fascinated by sounds and the way in which sounds had their own life, when separated from the object that created them. By recording sounds and taking them into the studio, Schaeffer and his colleagues could experiment, transform and play with sounds, making them do things that would never be possible in the real world.

They discovered that by changing the speed of sounds, reversing and splicing them, they could create radically new textures.

Étude Violette

Listen to this clip from the piece Étude Violette (Violet Study) and hear the incredible new sounds that Pierre Schaeffer created.

What Does This Music Involve?

The word ‘Musique Concrète’ means Concrete Music. This comes from the fact that it is made out of recorded sounds which have been captured and trapped, so that they can be physically controlled and transformed.

The process of making concrete music begins with sounds. The composer experiments and builds/moulds the piece out of sounds. This is very different from traditional music, where the composer often begins with an abstract idea, written down as dots on paper, which only becomes sound when it is played by musicians at the very end.

Machine GRM (1962), Laszlo Ruszka ©INA-GRMA photograph of tape machines in the GRM studios in Paris.

Working with Sound Directly

Working with sounds directly gives the composer much more control, and allows them to mould exactly how their piece will sound at the end.

Unlike for Soundscape composition, composers of Musique Concrète are not interested in focusing on where sounds come from, but what they can turn them into.

When creating works of Musique Concrète, composers tend to make many more transformations and use these to create many new sounds.

Composition Tip

Common manipulations used in Musique Concrète are:

See also: Exploration of Sounds


Click here to listen to MORE works of Musique Concrète.

Abstract Sounds

Sounds which we are unable to link with a specific source (Sound Source). When we hear Abstract Sounds we usually think about them as sounds in their own right; we do not hear the source that caused them (see also Musical Listening).

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Heightened listening

A focused and attentive approach to sounds in which the listener focuses upon the details of sounds, perhaps free from the source bonded associations.

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Manipulation (effect)

A process by which sounds are changed or transformed. There are many manipulations available within the CwS software. Manipulations are sometimes referred to as ‘effects’.

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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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