Étude aux Chemins De Fer [Railway Study] (by Pierre Schaeffer)

The first of the studies that Pierre Schaeffer created, and perhaps the most famous of them.

About the Piece

Étude aux Chemins De Fer (In English: Railway Study) was the first of the ‘Five Studies in Sound’ that Pierre Schaeffer created, and perhaps the most famous of them.

Pierre Schaeffer took his recording equipment to the local railway depot, and recorded the trains shunting about in the sidings.

He then took the recordings back to the studio and used pitch-shift , time-stretchinglooping and editing to turn his recordings into an exploration of the sounds that he had captured.


Back in 1948 Schaeffer had to make all of his recordings onto vinyl disks (like LP records).


Étude aux Chemins de Fer [Railway Study] by Pierre Schaeffer

About the Composer

Pierre Schaeffer worked as a radio technician for the French national radio and whilst working there began to experiment with recorded sounds.

In 1946 he convinced the radio station to develop a studio and research group to properly investigate recorded sounds. This group later became the GRM (Musical Research Group).

He made his first solo compositions in 1948, the ‘Five Studies of Sounds’.

Pierre Schaeffer made many further musical works and wrote extensively on the subject of creating music with recorded sounds. His ideas have influenced many, many composers who followed him. He was one of the first people to recognise that the envelope of a sound can greatly affect the way that it is heard.


CollageEditingLoopMusical ListeningMusique ConcrètePitch Shifting , Schaeffer, Pierre, TimbreTime-StretchingTurntabalism