Electroacoustic music is a type of music that originated in the late 1940s, and early 1950s. Originally, there were two groups of composers who were at strict odds with each other. In Paris, Musique Concrete, pioneered by Pierre Schaeffer, was based on the juxtaposition of natural sounds recorded to tape or disc. In Cologne, Elektronische Musik, pioneered by Herbert Eimert, was based around the construction of tones using only sine waves, which Eimert considered to be an electronic extension of serialism. The common link between the two schools is that the music is recorded and performed through loudspeakers, without a human performer. Currently, the majority of electroacoustic pieces use techniques from both earlier styles. Since around the early 1980s, many electroacoustic pieces have included live performers, either as a performer playing along with a tape, or, more recently, with live electronic processing of the performer’s sound. The term “acousmatic music” is often used to refer to pieces that consist solely of prerecorded sound.
Electroacoustic music is a diverse, widely popular field. Important centers of research and composition can be found around the world, and there are numerous conferences which present electroacoustic music, notably the International Computer Music Conference as well as the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS).