> > > Out Now: John Dack translation‘Treatise on Musical Objects’ by Pierre Schaeffer

Out Now: John Dack translation‘Treatise on Musical Objects’ by Pierre Schaeffer
University of California Press

‘Treatise on Musical Objects’ by Pierre Schaeffer. Translated by Christine North and John Dack. Published by the University of California Press.

Dr John Dack, Senior Lecturer in Music and Technology, is one of the two trasnaltrs, together with Christine North, of ‘Treatise on Musical Objects’ by Pierre Schaeffer. This is in many ways the culmination of his musical research. In a previous book (‘In Search of a Concrete Music’) Schaeffer outlined the development of his relationship with sound and technology whilst working in the studios of the ORTF in Paris during the years 1948-1952. The translation by Christine North and John Dack of this book was published in 2012, also by the University of California Press. The ‘Treatise on Musical Objects’, which was published in July, is altogether different and was completed nearly twenty years later. Despite its appearance in 1966 the ‘Treatise’ has never been translated into English. In this translation Christine North and John Dack have at last provided readers who have no access to the original French with a text that presents Schaeffer’s remarkable theoretical framework: the Programme of Musical Research. The value of the ‘Treatise’ for musicians lies in Schaeffer’s insistence on asking fundamental questions relevant to all aspects of music. What Schaeffer provides for the contemporary musician is a range of methods for investigating the materials of music and how they might ultimately be formed into meaningful sonic structures. Naturally, there is some urgency to this endeavour given the vast repository of sounds which modern composers can now use. This highlights once more the role technology can play in revealing new musical languages.

 

On the University of California Press website the translation has been described as “A translation triumph” by Professor Emeritus Denis Smalley of City, University of London. Professor Simon Emmerson (De Montfort University) writes: “Pierre Schaeffer's text in a definitive form in English is invaluable to a wide range of communities of scholars, practitioners, and general readers.” Eric Drott of the University of Texas at Austin comments: “To have an English translation of this volume at long last is a cause for celebration. Christine North and John Dack have shown tremendous skill, patience, and care in rendering Schaeffer’s often challenging style into English, doing justice to both the content of his ideas and the style in which they are expressed.”