Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Douglas Geers

Committee Members

Jeff Nichols

Suzanne Farrin

David Grubbs

Subject Categories

Composition | Music Theory


Electronic Music, Musique Concrète


Throughout his career, Pierre Schaeffer composed several sound works to test and inspire his evolving musical theories. By composing with edited sound recordings, rather than traditional musical instruments, he hoped to discover new ways of creating musical structures based on sound parameters other than pitch. This study is an analysis of Schaeffer’s sound work Etude aux allures. This Etude examines the musical potential of the sound parameter allure, which is Schaeffer’s term for the pulsed modulation of pitch, volume, or other sound parameters. Without the existence of a standardized analytical methodology, the Etude is viewed from several perspectives. First, a typomorphological analysis of the sound-work is presented in the form of a transcription using Lasse Thoresen’s Aural Sonology graphic notational symbols. The symbols represent the salient characteristics of each sound object in the Etude. Next, the piece is compared to a hypothetical compositional plan from Schaeffer’s Treatise on Musical Objects. This comparison explains why the sounds in the piece might have been selected. Finally, the role of the sound characteristic allure is analyzed. I argue that the Etude is an example of what Schaeffer called a Teaching Reel, intended to help listeners focus their attention on the allure of each sound object.


This essay and the composition, “Clarinet and Shadow,” together constitute the author’s dissertation but are otherwise unrelated.