This page has a little more information on the style of music exemplified by our listening example, Poeme Electronique.
Musique concrète (meaning “concrete music”) is a genre of electroacoustic music that is made in part from acousmatic sound. It can feature sounds derived from recordings of musical instruments, voice, and the natural environment as well as those created using synthesizers and computer-based digital signal processing. Also, compositions in this idiom are not restricted to the normal musical rules of melody, harmony, rhythm, metre, and so on. Originally contrasted with “pure” elektronische Musik (based solely on the production and manipulation of electronically produced sounds rather than recorded sounds), the theoretical basis of musique concrète as a compositional practice was developed by Pierre Schaeffer, beginning in the early 1940s.
By 1949 Schaeffer’s compositional work was known publicly as musique concrète. Schaeffer stated: “when I proposed the term ‘musique concrète,’ I intended … to point out an opposition with the way musical work usually goes. Instead of notating musical ideas on paper with the symbols of solfege and entrusting their realization to well-known instruments, the question was to collect concrete sounds, wherever they came from, and to abstract the musical values they were potentially containing.” According to Pierre Henry, “musique concrète was not a study of timbre, it is focused on envelopes, forms. It must be presented by means of non-traditional characteristics, you see . . . one might say that the origin of this music is also found in the interest in “plastifying” music, of rendering it plastic like sculpture…musique concrète, in my opinion . . . led to a manner of composing, indeed, a new mental framework of composing.” Schaeffer had developed an aesthetic that was centred upon the use of sound as a primary compositional resource. The aesthetic also emphasised the importance of play (jeu) in the practice of sound based composition. Schaeffer’s use of the word jeu, from the verb jouer, carries the same double meaning as the English verb play: “to enjoy oneself by interacting with one’s surroundings,” as well as “to operate a musical instrument.”