Ionisation (by Edgar Varèse)

Works Made of Organised Sounds

Edgard Varèse (1883-1965) grew up just as sound recording became popular and common. He recognised the new possibilities that recording gave and, he too, repeatedly called for the development of new musical instruments which would allow him to create the new music of his imagination

Unfortunately, technology was very slow to catch up with his advanced ideas (it was not until the 1950’s that he was able to properly experiment with recording technology to create musical works). BUT, not one to be defeated he set about creating orchestral works that explored new sound textures and brought new sound making devices (such as a fire engine siren) into the concert hall alongside the traditional instruments.

Ionisation (Extract)

Listen to this extract taken from one of Varèse’s orchestral works, in which he got the musicians to perform new industrial type sounds.

Varèse described himself as “a worker in rhythms, frequencies and intensities”, and preferred to use the term ‘Organised Sound’ to describe music.

“[T]o stubbornly conditioned ears, anything new in music has always been called noise. But after all, what is music but organised [sounds]? And a composer, like all artists, is an organiser of [separate] elements.”

When he was able to get his hands on recording technology Varèse created one of the most famous of early electroacoustic works Poème Électronique [Electronic Poem].