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Pierre Schaeffer - Étude pathétique


Pierre Schaefer begins the piece with sounds produced by drums and similar percussion instruments. One hears the sound of an object spinning and then coming to a stop. I assume it is a circular object, like a cymbal or hi-hat of a drum kit, that spins until it comes to a stop. Sounds of a locomotive follow, continuing with a mixture of drums and spinning objects as well as voices. There are slight parallels here with another piece by Schaeffer, "etude aux chemins de fer," in which he has the musical piece consist of sounds of trains and locomotives. I also recognize an accordion and a violin playing rapidly, accompanied by human sounds that are not really decipherable. By combining all these background sounds and using human voices, Schaeffer creates an exciting atmosphere while listening to the piece, and the listener's auditory senses are constantly challenged to decipher all the details of the sounds. At times one could be reminded of a scene from a scary movie, at least an intro or something similar. In general, very interesting sound combinations he uses, the coughing of a person, the moving locomotive and the sounds of indefinable objects. All in all, he creates a perfect illusion of what he seems to mean by music and that you can mix many different sounds together that have no direct relation to each other and a great piece of music can be created. The piece concludes more atmospherically compared to the middle section and ends with the same sound of the circular object spinning and coming to a stop.


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