It was basically as a "side product" of Albo Rybka ... / A Fish or ..., an animated film made in 1958 by two well-known representatives of the genre, Hanna Bielińska and Włodzimierz Haupe, that Włodzimierz Kotoński's Concrete Etude (on a Cymbal Stroke) originated. Kotoński was the composer of the soundtrack - a match for the film's surrealist imagery, a kind of meta-music made of electro-acoustic effects - and while working on it, he got interested in the effects of processing the recorded cymbal sound. Therefore as soon as the soundtrack was ready, he occupied himself with that recording and based on a single stroke "with a soft drumstick on a medium-sized Turkish cymbal", wrote a work of music lasting two minutes and forty-one seconds.
Concrete Etude Etude on a Cymbal Stroke
This is how Kotoński describes the Etude writing process in the book Muzyka elektroniczna (Kraków 2002):
"In contrast with the vast majority of the earlier works of concrete music, the material was treated in a very strict way which was modelled on serial electronic compositions. The sound of the cymbal was filtered on five bands of differing widths and transposed on eleven pitches, in accordance with the adopted scale. A specific time scale of eleven durations and six articulation methods was created based on the ratio of the sound duration to the pause that followed within the sound's time unit; a corresponding dynamic scale of eleven degrees and six forms of envelopes (three attacks and three releases). The entire work was composed in accordance with the principles of total serialization."
The Etude's first performance at the 1960 Warsaw Autumn Festival was followed by its presentations at concerts and festivals of new music in many countries. In 1953 the publishing house Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne published the score under the shortened title of Music for one Cymbal Stroke, and this is how the Etude's has since been usually called.
Prepared by the Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, June 2002.