Music Technology Students Create Haunting Compositions

Two students in the Music Technology class composed musique concrête pieces using everyday sounds to convey a Halloween mood. Students in the semester-long course learn to notate music using Finale software on the Macintosh computer and receive an introduction to sound recording, editing, mixing and composing.


By Julianna Bailer

“Musique Concrete is a style of music coined by Pierre Shaeffer in which different sounds of the natural world are recorded, mixed, edited, and then organized to create a single piece of music. With Infested, I wanted to focus on using repetition in order to build a sense of anxiety within the listener. The most consistent tool I used throughout the piece was the cathedral reverb, which created an echoey sound that surrounds the listener. Another way I created the ominous sound is by alternating the speakers from which certain sounds amplify. For my main sound, I took the original sound of a key-card beep and edited it with a cathedral reverb, and then repeated the short bell-like sound 8 times.

I then took each individual sound and changed its pitch, creating a 4-beat melody. I repeated this melody throughout the track, changing its speed, and also layering 2 of the melodies on top of each other, with different pitches, creating a harmony. The rest of the sounds I used, including the sound of typing on a keyboard, a zipper, and a coin-flipping were mostly used as supporting sounds to the main melody. To these sounds I added a cathedral reverb and adjusted the volume, pitch, speed, and other things as needed. The title Infested is meant to reiterate the uncomfortable feeling the track is mean to invoke.”


By Jill Stroup

“Nightmute is a composition of musique concrête (concrete music), in which everyday recorded sounds are made into music. It uses sounds ranging from doors opening and closing, to footsteps to vending machines. These sounds are less identifiable when listening to the composition because it features effects like cutting, facing in and out, reverb, repetition, layering, and changing of volumes. The title, Nightmute, was chosen because of the scary feeling some may experience when listening. While listening, you can picture walking into a haunted or ghosted high school and walking through the cold hollow halls.”