4 The Reduced Listening (Écoute Réduite)
Reduced Listening is the listening attitude that consists of listening to the sound
itself, as a Sound Object, regardless of its real or supposed origin
and the sense that he can be a carrier.
In reduced listening, our listening intention points to the event that the
sound object is itself (and not what it refers to), the values that he himself
has (and not those of which it is only support).
In “ordinary” listening, sound is always treated as a vehicle. The
Reduced Listening is therefore an “anti-natural” process, which goes against everyone
the conditioning. The act of abstracting our habitual references in listening
it is a voluntary and artificial act that allows us to elucidate numerous phenomena
implicit in our perception.
The denomination Reduced Listening refers to the notion of reduction
phenomenological (époché), since it consists, in a certain way, in stripping the perception
of the sound of everything that is not “himself”, to hear only the sound, in
its materiality, its substance, its sensitive dimensions.
5 The Four Listeners (Quatre écoutes)
Schaeffer distinguishes four listening modes that he places in a table with four
sections numbered from one to four:
The four listening modes result from the crossing between two dualities that are
they find universally in all activity of perception: duality
Abstract / Concrete and duality Objective / Subjective (what consists in confronting the
object of the perception and the activity of the conscience that perceives).
4. Understand 1. Listen to Goal
3. Understand 2. Hear Subjective
Figure 1: Classification table four listening modes
2 Sampling: sample, take a sample. In this case, record a sound to use it
1. Listening (écouter) refers to paying attention to someone, to something; is, through
of sound, point to the source, the event, the cause, is to treat the sound as a sign
from this source, from this event Concrete / Objective.
2. To hear (ouïr) is to perceive by the ear, to be struck by the sounds, is the grossest level, the
most elementary of perception; we “hear” like this, passively, many things that do not
we seek to listen (écouter) or understand (comprehend) Concrete / Subjective.
3. Understanding (understanding), according to its etymology, means manifesting a
intent to listen (écouter), is to choose between what we hear (ouïr) what interests us
especially, to perform a “qualification” of what we hear Abstract / Subjective.
4. Understand (understand), is to grasp a sense, values, treating sound
as a sign that refers to that sense depending on a language, a code
Semantic Listening; Abstract / Objective.
6 The Sound Object
The term Sound Object refers to every phenomenon and perceived sound event
as a whole, as a coherent entity, and that is heard through a
Reduced Listening directed on itself, regardless of its origin or its
The Sound Object is defined as the correlate of Reduced Listening: it does not exist
“in itself” but through a specific constitutive intention. It is a unit of
sound perceived in its material, its inherent texture, its own qualities and
A first approach to the classification of sound objects proposed
Schaeffer is from the cross-linking of ‘duration’ (from null to long, taking into
tells its mode of perpetuity: continuous or discontinuous -it means: had or iterated-)
depending on the ‘mass’ of the sound in question. Here ‘mass’ is understood as: mode of
occupation of the field of heights (proportion of bass and treble sounds), that is to say
that the criterion of ‘mass’ is equivalent in some measure to the criterion of ‘tessitura’ of a sound.
Figure 2. Typological criteria. (Schaeffer, 1966)
On the horizontal axis we find the following parameters represented:
Left: continuous maintenance => sounds taken
Right: discontinuous maintenance => iterated sounds
On the vertical axis we find the following parameters represented:
Center: Fixed mass
Upper margin: defined height
Lower margin: indefinite height
6.1 Mass criteria
According to the criterion of mass, Schaeffer distinguishes three main cases:
1) Tonic, if the mass has a recognizable tonal height (for example, the note of
a musical instrument, like the violin). Schaeffer represents this case with the
letter “N” of “note”.
2) Complex, when the sound does not contain accurate tonal information (for example,
the noise of the wind or the rain). Represented with the letter “X”.
3) Variable, when the pitch of the sound evolves over time. his
symbol is the “Y”.
6.2 Invoice criteria
We saw earlier that mass is for Schaeffer the equivalent to the
sound object. Now, with ‘Invoice criteria’ the author refers to the mode of
‘Invoice’ a certain sound, understanding ‘billing’ as the mode of
perpetuate its duration, that is to say, its maintenance. The first approach to this is to
from the mechanical point of view. There are then three ways to maintain the
vibration of a sound body:
1) nothing: percussion
2) Steady: active maintenance
3) iteration: repetition of percussions
In traditional notation we find symbology that refers specifically to
– sound had
. chopped sound
Schaeffer reassigns a series of symbols that, combined with the letter N (by note),
gives a series of nomenclatures to classify sound objects according to their mode of
Fig 3. Mass criteria (P. Schaeffer (1966). “Treaty of musical objects”, Editorial Alliance 1988.
N: note without any particular sign (simple sound)
N ‘: short, but maintained sounds (minced type of violin – with bow)
N “: short sounds, per repeated, iterated (redobles, staccattos of arc)
X: for example a gong or a cymbal have important variations (complex sound: fixed)
X ‘: with arch
X “: tremolo with drumsticks
Y: mostly refers to glissandos in his tessitura
Y ‘: tremolo glissando de timbal, tremolo lap-steel guitar with slide
And “: glissando de timbal, lap-steel guitar with slide
6.3 Sound type typology table
Gradually Schaeffer begins to increase the complexity that arises from his
I try to obtain an exhaustive classification of the sound parameters. At
following table (referred to as TARTYP, acronym for: TAbleau Recapitulatif of the
TYPologie) the previous frame (Figure 3) is inserted in the center, due to its
hierarchy, and to its sides extend the possibilities of maintenance of the
sound object. According to the Canadian composer Robert Normandeau3, this picture of the
Figure 4 should be interpreted continuously, as a cylinder in the direction
vertical, where its right and left ends meet to give a reading in
The SAMPLES nomenclature, refers to samples of sounds,
literally recorded sounds. The ACCUMULATIONS legend refers to
conglomerates of sounds. The letter W symbolizes’ great notes: for example a
church bell. The Greek letter ? (phi) symbolizes a sound fragment: edited.
The letter K symbolizes a cell composed by the edition of multiple sounds.
Figure 4. Summary table typology. (P. Schaeffer (1966). “Treaty of musical objects”,
Editorial Alliance 1988.
6.4 Classes of mass texture of homogeneous sounds
In this classification of the ‘mass texture’ of the sound depending on the ‘texture of the
harmonic timbre ‘, Schaeffer proposes seven different levels taking into account that
either a sound approaches or moves away from the traditional definition of ‘height’ of sound. Is
say, whether or not a sound has the ability to produce the ‘height sensation’.
3 Normandeau, Robert ‘A revision of the TARTYP published by Pierre Schaeffer’. Electroacoustic
Music Society 2010, Proceedings.
Figure 5. Mass texture classes of homogeneous sounds. (P. Schaeffer, 1966).
6.5 Genres of attack
All sound material has a temporal evolution called ‘envelope’.
This envelope has a beginning that is called ‘attack’ and each sound has the
own that can be classified in different ways, according to its evolutionary curve.
Figure 6. Genres of attacks. (P. Schaeffer (1966). “Treaty of musical objects”, Editorial Alliance
6.6 Musical objects solfeg box
To finish with the first part of this work we will present two paintings
complete, designed at different times, and with different degrees of complexity, for a
greater specificity in the classification of musical objects.
Figure 7. Solfeo musical objects chart. P. Schaeffer (1966). “Treaty of musical objects”,
Editorial Alliance 1988.
6.6.1 Simplification of musical objects solfeggio chart
Figure 8. Classification (8): Main criteria of sound characterization (Schaeffer 1952, ‘À la
recherche de la musique concréte ‘, Castilian edition’ What is concrete music ?, Editorial Nueva
Vision, Buenos Aires, 1959).
4 The Reduced Listening (Écoute Réduite)