Sound Object
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Sound Object

In electronic music theory and composition a sound object (coined by Pierre Schaeffer 1959, 1977, p. 95) corresponds with a primary unit of music such that could be played on an instrument or sung by a vocalist. A sound object specifically refers to recorded sound rather than written music using manuscript or a score. More precisely, in his book Traité des objets musicaux, Schaeffer considers the sound object in these terms:

This unit of sound [sound-object] is the equivalent to a unit of breath or articulation, a unit of instrumental gesture. The sound object is therefore an acoustic action and intention of listening.[1]

Schaeffer believed that the sound object should be free from its sonic origin (its sound source, or source bonding) so that a listener could not identify it. This type of sound object forms part of what Schaeffer called acousmatic music, which involved a reduced listening, or concentrated listening.

A broader interpretation of the term "sound object" takes any sound within a stipulated temporal limit, such as that proposed by Curtis Roads in 2001.


  1. ^ Schaeffer, Pierre (2002). Traité Des Objets Musicaux: Essai Interdisciplines (in French). Paris: Éditions du Seuil. p. 271. ISBN 978-2-02-002608-6. OCLC 751268549. 
  • Roads, Curtis (2001). Microsound (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. p. 409. ISBN 978-0-262-18215-7. 
  • Schaeffer, Pierre (2012). In Search of a Concrete Music. Translated by North, Christine; Dack, John. London: University of California. ISBN 978-0-520-26573-8. OCLC 788263789. 

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