Anecdotal Music

Anecdotal Music

Works that include sounds which are deliberately meant to be recognised as, or linked with, a specific sound creating object.

An anecdote is a short story about an interesting place or occasion. Anecdotal music uses interesting sounds which are strongly connected to their original place or occasion.

These sounds can then be set up in amusing or surreal ways.

Anecdotal works are often playful with the sounds that they use, creating impossible combinations of different recognisable sounds or playing with and transforming the context or location in which these recognisable sounds exist (much like perspective changes, or tricks, in film).

They don’t have to be used as part of a traditional narrative, as might be the case within Radiophonics. And they tend to bend and play with reality more than Soundscape pieces.

This piece plays with our experience of the real world by subverting what we expect to happen next. Sounds will begin and lead us in a certain direction before shifting and changing completely!


It is often argued that Schaeffer’s ‘Etude aux Chemins de Fer’ is an anedcotal piece of music (even though Schaeffer was trying to make a piece of Musique Concrete). The train sounds are often recognisable and conjure up links with our own memories or thoughts about steam trains.

The first piece to be named anecdotal music was “Hétérozygote” by Luc Ferrari.


Think of a familiar soundscape. How could you manipulate some of the sounds (or add new sounds) so as to transform the soundscape in a bizarre or amusing way.