New English Translation of Pierre Schaeffer’s Influential Treatise on Musical Objects

If there’s an influential 20th century research, it is Pierre Schaeffer’s one. Not only for art and music, but for engineering and psychology. Although focused on his idea of the musical object, the Treatise on Musical Objects is an oasis of new routes for thinking and speculation through perception.

By crossing several disciplines and developing his own musical research methodology through the years, Schaeffer revolutionizes the idea of the sonic material, also leaving an acousmatic invitation which is reflected on his philosophical standpoints, ideas on technology and his visionary concepts around electroacoustic, experimental and concrete music. Scientific yet poetic, visionary yet a classic; from the idea of music as research device, to the analysis of listening modalities, or his attempt of a language for musical objects, Schaeffer’s treatise is a must-read which, even if can be reformulated or questioned, will always be a milestone in sonic thinking.

“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.”

Seems an illusion to think that such a marvelous read hasn’t been published in an English translation that honors its legacy, but that’s changing now, since University of California Press has announced the arrival of a translation by Christine North and John Dack, who were also in charge of the English version of ‘In Search of a Concrete Music, a fascinating exploration of Schaeffer’s diary of his musical experiments.

The ‘Treatise on Musical Objects: An Essay across Disciplines’ will be published in July 25th and is available for pre-order now in several stores, including ebook versions.

More at: University of California Press | Amazon

Miguel Isaza M

Listener, speaker.