Electroacoustic music is a style of Western art music which originated around the middle of the 20th century, following the incorporation of electric sound production into compositional practice. The initial developments in electroacoustic music composition to fixed media during the 20th century are associated with the activities of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales at the ORTF in Paris, the home of musique concrète, the Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk (NWDR) studio in Cologne, where the focus was on the composition of elektronische Musik, and the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York City, where tape music, electronic music, and computer music were all explored. Practical electronic music instruments began to appear in the early 1900s.
Tape music is an integral part of musique concrète, utilizing pre-recorded fragments, loops, and sampled sounds, altering and manipulating them through techniques such as speed manipulation (Anon. n.d.). The work of Halim El-Dabh is perhaps the earliest example of tape (or, in this case, wire-recorded) music. El-Dabh's The Expression of Zaar, first presented in Cairo, Egypt, in 1944, was an early work using musique concrète–like techniques similar to those developed in Paris during the same period. El-Dabh would later become more famous for his work at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, where in 1959 he composed the influential piece Leiyla and the Poet (Holmes 2008, 153–54 & 157).
US composer John Cage's assembly of the Williams Mix serves as an example of the rigors of tape music. First, Cage created a 192-page score. Over the course of a year, 600 sounds were assembled and recorded. Cut tape segments for each occurrence of each sound were accumulated on the score. Then the cut segments were spliced to one of eight tapes, work finished on January 16, 1953. The premiere performance (realization) of the 4'15" work was given on March 21, 1953 at the University of Illinois, Urbana (Chaudron n.d.).
There have been a number of festivals that feature electroacoustic music. Early festivals such as Donaueschingen Festival, founded in 1921, were some of the first to include electroacoustic instruments and pieces. This was followed by ONCE Festival of New Music in the 1950s, and since the 1960s there has been a growth of festivals that focus exclusively on electroacoustic music.
Alongside paper presentations, workshops and seminars, many of these events also feature concert performances or sound installations created by those attending or which are related to the theme of the conference / symposium.
NIME – International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (since 2000)
Morawska-Büngeler, Marietta. 1988. Schwingende Elektronen: Eine Dokumentation über das Studio für Elektronische Musik des Westdeutschen Rundfunk in Köln 1951–1986. Cologne-Rodenkirchen: P. J. Tonger Musikverlag.
Stockhausen, Karlheinz. 1996. "Electroacoustic Performance Practice", translated by Jerome Kohl. Perspectives of New Music 34, no. 1 (Fall): 74–105.
Ungeheuer, Elena. 1992. "Wie die elektronische Musik „erfunden" wurde…: Quellenstudie zu Werner Meyer-Epplers musikalische Entwurf zwischen 1949 und 1953." Kölner Schriften zur Neuen Musik 2, ed by Johannes Fritsch and Dieter Kämper. Mainz: B. Schott's Söhne. ISBN3-7957-1891-0.
Anon. 2007. Untitled. The Wire 275–80 (Accessed 5 June 2011).
Guérin, François. 1983. Les musiques électroacoustiques'. À l'écoute de la musique d'ici 2. Montréal: Centre de musique canadienne. [N.B.: Bibliographical list of Canadian electro-acoustic works.] Without ISBN.
Heifetz, Robin Julian. 1989. On the Wires of Our Nerves: The Art of Electroacoustic Music. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses Inc. ISBN0-8387-5155-5.
"Electroacoustic Bibliography" published in eContact! 8.4 – Ressources éducatives / Educational Resources (Montréal: CEC) for an annotated "'essential reading list' for electroacoustics, including books, journals and other resources relating to electroacoustics".
Organised Sound. Three themed issues published each year by De Montfort University (Leicester UK).
"Electroacoustic Bibliography" published in eContact! 8.4 – Ressources éducatives / Educational Resources (Montréal: CEC), an annotated list of journals publishing articles related to electroacoustics.