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    The Electronic Poems

    August 2nd, 2008

    For 60 years now, avant-garde composers and musical outsiders alike have tried to flex your head—electronically.

    Iannis Xenakis - The Electronic Poems
    Iannis Xenakis.

    In the middle of the 20th Century, a small handful of avant-garde classical composers crumpled up the graph paper of conventional music reality and threw it very far away. In Paris, Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry developed a stunning new form of music in 1948 called musique concrète. By mixing together sound effects records via multiple turntables through a disc lathe, new platters of abrupt, sound collage chaos resulted. With the advent of magnetic tape recorders in the early ’50s, the process was made a lot easier, setting composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany, Iannis Xenakis in France, plus Vladimir Ussachevsky, John Cage and Edgard Varèse in the United States free to exploit the novel sounds of new electronic equipment and / or recorded acoustic sounds from the outside world–hence the term “electro-acoustic.” Immense realms of abstract, alien sound and dark, dissonant collage pushed out the boundaries of what music could be, predating the use of electronics, concrete sounds, tape manipulation, feedback and noise in popular music by over a decade.

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