October 5 – Schaeffer, Depeche, Basil

1948

French composer Pierre Schaeffer originates musique concrete (*) in five works for tape alone (‘Five Studies of Noises’) premiered in a Paris radio concert.

This electroacoustic music, sound collage made without instruments, became possible with the advent of microphones, tape recorders, amplifiers and loudspeakers.

It is assembled by combining “found” environmental sounds and non-musical noises. On the primitive equipment of the (pre-tape recorder) times – Schaeffer “DJs” using records, four turntables and a mixer – it is intense, exhausting work.

Schaeffer’s experiments were assembled by splicing, speeding up, looping, and reversing recordings of trains, bells, rattling cookware, whistling tops, breaking glass, knocking doors, footsteps, and galloping horses. (*)

In 1951 Schaeffer, along with Jacques Poullin, and composer-percussionist Pierre Henry, establishes the Research Group on Concrete Music at Radiodiffusion-Television Francaise in Paris. They build the first purpose-built electroacoustic music studio.

Works are also created there by Pierre Boulez, Olivier Messiaen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edgard Varese, Arthur Honegger and others. The group splits in April, 1958. By then, American Raymond Scott is using noises in music for animated cartoons and advertising.

Their work is visionary. Much of today’s music is assembled; computers replace recorders. Mouse-flicks replace razor blades. Most popular music ‘borgs’ noise elements; electronic music bathes in them.

▷Musique concrete history in one page▹
 Schaeffer’s theories on instruments

Schaeffer:Etude  Modulations (beginning) 

See also: Tape music

1981

UK synthpop, electronic music band Depeche Mode releases its first album Speak & Spell.

It climbs to UK#10; the band continues to build popular success until it has a nearly universal #1 in 1993 with Songs of Faith and Devotion. All subsequent albums have been top-10s. DM has had 48 songs in the UK Singles Chart.

They become massively popular in the US, the only Brit synth band to achieve that. With 1990 album Violator, they break into the US top-10 – and with every album since for 20 years. With over 100 million records sold worldwide –  they’re the best-selling electronic band in history.

 ( Website Can’t Get Enough  Fly on the Windscreen  Synth Brittania:Depeche 

1982

Toni Basil joins the one-hit-wonder pantheon in the biggest way with the release of Mickey.

It climbs to US#1 (UK#2) over 3 months. It’s actually a cover of 1979 song ‘Kitty’ by the UK’s Racey.

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