The Treatise on Musical Objects is regarded as Pierre Schaeffer’s most important work on music and its relationship with technology. Schaeffer expands his earlier research in musique concrète to suggest a methodology of working with sounds based on his experiences in radio broadcasting and the recording studio. Drawing on acoustics, physics, and physiology, but also on philosophy and the relationship between subject and object, Schaeffer’s essay summarizes his theoretical and practical work in music composition. Translators Christine North and John Dack present an important book in the history of ideas in Europe that will resonate far beyond electroacoustic music.
Composer, writer, and electronic engineer Pierre Schaeffer (1910–1995) was the inventor of musique concrète—music created by combining and manipulating recorded sounds, rather than being played on conventional musical instruments.
Christine North is a translator of French poetry and academic texts.
John Dack is Senior Lecturer in Music and Technology at Middlesex University.
"Pierre Schaeffer's text in a definitive form in English is invaluable to a wide range of communities of scholars, practitioners, and general readers. It will have the effect of ‘rewriting history’ as well as stimulating and informing current discussions on the state of sound, music, and media in the age of smart technology."—Simon Emmerson, Professor of Music, Technology, and Innovation, De Montfort University
"Schaeffer’s Treatise on Musical Objects is a landmark text, not for one but for several disciplines: electroacoustic composition, sound studies, media theory, music theory, to name but a few. To have an English translation of this volume at long last is a cause for celebration. Christine North and John Dack have shown tremendous skill, patience, and care in rendering Schaeffer’s often challenging style into English, doing justice to both the content of his ideas and the style in which they are expressed."—Eric Drott, Associate Professor of Music Theory, University of Texas at Austin
"Almost seventy years after the invention of musique concrète, this seminal text is still absolutely crucial for those curious about music, sound, composing, and the experience of listening. Schaeffer’s astonishing book is at last available in English thanks to the wonderful work of John Dack and Christine North."—Robert Worby, composer, BBC Radio 3 and the Langham Research Centre
"The Treatise on Musical Objects is Pierre Schaeffer’s magnum opus, a prescient work of sound studies before there was 'sound studies.' Its purview touches on nearly every aspect of sound and auditory culture. Beyond 'modes of listening,' 'sound objects,' or 'acousmatics,' there is so much more for readers to discover."—Brian Kane, author of Sound Unseen: Acousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice
"Schaeffer’s treatise is a monumental, groundbreaking investigation into listening, considering in depth not only the sounds of music, but the whole sound world. At last English-speaking readers can discover the seminal research of this unique personality, which remains a classic fifty years after its initial publication. A translation triumph."—Denis Smalley, Professor Emeritus, City, University of London