Pierre Henry ‘Spatiodynamisme’ 7” single (with Nicolas Schöffer book)

Nicolas Schöffer book cover
Spread page on Spatiodynamisme
The Liège, Belgium, Tour Spatiodynamique
Pierre Henry's Spatiodynamisme 7'' single side 1

Based on 1954 recordings of a Nicolas Schöffer‘s sculpture, this music was elaborated in Pierre Henry‘s first private studio APSOM, active around 1954-58, while Henry was still a member of Pierre Schaeffer’s Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète. The music was intended as the soundtrack to the first Tour Spatiodynamique Cybernétique et Sonore, a cybernetic sculpture erected by Nicolas Schöffer in Saint Cloud, France during the 1955 ‘Salon du Bâtiment et des Travaux Publics’ fair, with technical help from a Philips Company engineer, Pierre Bureau. Metallic parts, mirrors, lighting and sounds emanating from the 50 meters high building interacted with the environment and visitors. Another Tower was installed in Liège, Belgium in 1961, with music provided by Henry Pousseur (the 2 pictures above show the Liège Tower). Information in French on the various Towers is availalbe here, and a sound excerpt is available here.

The present Spationdynamisme 7” was pressed by Philips to accompany the book ‘Nicolas Schöffer”, published by Editions du Griffon, Switzerland, 1963. Only a fraction of these recordings was reissued in the 3xCD set titled ‘Des Années 50’ (Mantra, France), with a mere 8mn46 excerpt. Using his usual technique at the time, Henry recorded various grating and scraping sounds from the metallic scultpure and reconfigured it to create the musique concrète of Spatiodynamisme. The A-side comes without much sound treatment except montage and collage, though some of Pierre Henry’s trademark sound effects are gradually added near the end of side 1, like backward running tape around 8:00 and quick reverb. Henry’s reference at the time was Luigi Russolo‘s L’arte dei Rumori, i.e. to make music with Modern Life’s sounds, especially the machines, however unpleasant to the ears. Technically speaking a ‘dub’, the B-side has more sound treatment and added bass sounds – a delight if your stereo system has the appropriate grunt in this department.

Pierre Henry ‘Spatiodynamisme’
Recorded 1954

01 Spatiodynamisme I (10:00)
02 Spatiodynamisme II (9:45)

Total time 19:45
7” single released with the ‘Nicolas Schöffer’ book, Editions du Griffon, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1963


16 Responses to “Pierre Henry ‘Spatiodynamisme’ 7” single (with Nicolas Schöffer book)”

  1. 1 lericolais rainier February 22, 2010 at 8:43 am

    que du beau

  2. 2 continuo February 22, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Merci, my friend.

  3. 3 ICTUS75 February 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Excellent! many Thanks!

  4. 4 continuo February 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    You’re welcome.

  5. 5 armeur H February 22, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Jolie pièce ! ça fait envie de feuilleter !

  6. 6 continuo February 22, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    J’ai beaucoup de chance, je m’en rend compte.

  7. 7 Daniel February 23, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Want to see more preview of Nicolas Schöffer book :)
    Can I?

  8. 8 continuo February 23, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I included 10 or so scans in the download file and there are some more avaialble on eBay at the moment. If you’d want to see more scans, you should consider offering something to post on Continuo as a trade. Regards.

  9. 9 Daniel February 23, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Ah, thank you veru much!
    I love all this academic stuff!

  10. 10 continuo February 23, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Well, I try to be as academic as possible on this blog, as you probably noticed.

  11. 11 Daniel February 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm


  12. 12 Sonolor February 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Merci beaucoup pour cette rareté incontournable !

  13. 13 Acousmata August 29, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Hats off, Continuo, once again. Wonderful stuff.

    Fred K. Prieberg wrote about Schöffer’s Saint Cloud tower in his book “Musica ex Machina,” which is where I first heard of Schöffer. Some of the images in the book remind me very strongly of Moholy-Nagy’s “Light-Space Modulator,” c. 1930. I wonder if there was an influence there?


  14. 14 continuo August 29, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I guess Hungarian-born Schöffer was influenced by Eastern Europe Constructivism (Anton Pevsner, Naum Gabo and Moholy-Nagy). I suppose you’re already familiar with Moholy-Nagy’s important 1923 article “Neue Gestaltung in der Musik”, about the cinetic and sonic potentialities of recorded sounds. It’s a groundbreaking, visionary article.

  15. 15 Acousmata August 29, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Yes, in fact Moholy-Nagy is going to be an important figure in my dissertation research. Interestingly, many of the most original thinkers in early 20th-century experimental/electronic music are not musicians at all.

  16. 16 continuo August 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    How true.

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