Tape music is an integral part of musique concrète, which uses the tape recorder as its central musical source. The music can utilise pre-recorded sound fragments and the creation of loops, which can be altered and manipulated through techniques such as editing and playback speed manipulation. The work of Halim El-Dabh is perhaps the earliest example of tape (or, in this case, Wire recording) music. El-Dabh's The Expression of Zaar, first presented in Cairo, Egypt, in 1944, was an early work using musique concrète–like techniques similar to those developed in Paris during the same period. El-Dabh would later become more famous for his work at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, where in 1959 he composed the influential piece Leiyla and the Poet.
US composer John Cage's assembly of the Williams Mix serves as an example of the rigors of tape music. First, Cage created a 192-page score. Over the course of a year, 600 sounds were assembled and recorded. Cut tape segments for each occurrence of each sound were accumulated on the score. Then the cut segments were spliced to one of eight tapes, work finished on January 16, 1953. The premiere performance (realization) of the 4'15" work was given on March 21, 1953 at the University of Illinois, Urbana.
In Cologne, elektronische Musik, pioneered in 1949–51 by the composer Herbert Eimert and the physicist Werner Meyer-Eppler, was based solely on electronically generated (synthetic) sounds, particularly sine waves. The beginning of the development of electronic music has been traced back to "the invention of the valve [vacuum tube] in 1906". The precise control afforded by the studio allowed for what Eimert considered to be the subjection of everything, "to the last element of the single note", to serialpermutation, "resulting in a completely new way of composing sound"; in the studio, serial operations could be applied to elements such as timbre and dynamics. The common link between the two schools is that the music is recorded and performed through loudspeakers, without a human performer. The majority of electroacoustic pieces use a combination of recorded sound and synthesized or processed sounds, and the schism between Schaeffer's and Eimert's approaches has been overcome, the first major example being Karlheinz Stockhausen's Gesang der Jünglinge of 1955–56.
There have been a number of festivals that feature electroacoustic music. Early festivals such as Donaueschingen Festival, founded in 1921, were some of the first to include electroacoustic instruments and pieces. This was followed by ONCE Festival of New Music in the 1950s, and since the 1960s there has been a growth of festivals that focus exclusively on electroacoustic music.
Alongside paper presentations, workshops and seminars, many of these events also feature concert performances or sound installations created by those attending or which are related to the theme of the conference / symposium.
Morawska-Büngeler, Marietta. 1988. Schwingende Elektronen: Eine Dokumentation über das Studio für Elektronische Musik des Westdeutschen Rundfunk in Köln 1951–1986. Cologne-Rodenkirchen: P. J. Tonger Musikverlag.
Ungeheuer, Elena. 1992. "Wie die elektronische Musik „erfunden" wurde...: Quellenstudie zu Werner Meyer-Epplers musikalische Entwurf zwischen 1949 und 1953." Kölner Schriften zur Neuen Musik 2, edited by Johannes Fritsch and Dietrich Kämper. Mainz: B. Schott's Söhne. ISBN3-7957-1891-0.
Guérin, François. 1983. Les musiques électroacoustiques'. À l'écoute de la musique d'ici 2. Montréal: Centre de musique canadienne. [N.B.: Bibliographical list of Canadian electro-acoustic works.] Without ISBN.
Heifetz, Robin Julian. 1989. On the Wires of Our Nerves: The Art of Electroacoustic Music. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses. ISBN0-8387-5155-5.
"Electroacoustic Bibliography" published in eContact! 8.4 – Ressources éducatives / Educational Resources (Montréal: CEC), an annotated list of journals publishing articles related to electroacoustics.