Schaeffer's Sonic Object: Prolegomena

Carlos Palombini

Visiting Lecturer in Music
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco


While the terms `musical object' and `sonic object' (sometimes `music object' and `sound object') propounded by Schaeffer between 1952 and 1966 are now an integral part of musicological parlance, little attention has been paid to the construct where these notions belong. Moreover, the diachrony of Schaeffer's system has been customarily disregarded. Focusing on TraitÊ des objets musicaux, the author introduces the notion of sonic object as inferable from Schaeffer's 1966 SolfÉge, with reference to earlier texts. This survey comprises: three new musical facts, the three musicological deadlocks that follow thence, a preliminary definition of sonic object, the relationship between object and structure, the relationship between sonority and musicality, the idea of recherche musicale and the pre-history of the music instrument.

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