In electronic music theory and composition a sound object (coined by Pierre Schaeffer 1959, 1977, p. 95) corresponds with a primary unit of music such that could be played on an instrument or sung by a vocalist. A sound object specifically refers to recorded sound rather than written music using manuscript or a score. More precisely, in his book Traité des objets musicaux, Schaeffer considers the sound object in these terms:
This unit of sound [sound-object] is the equivalent to a unit of breath or articulation, a unit of instrumental gesture. The sound object is therefore an acoustic action and intention of listening.
Schaeffer believed that the sound object should be free from its sonic origin (its sound source, or source bonding) so that a listener could not identify it. This type of sound object forms part of what Schaeffer called acousmatic music, which involved a reduced listening, or concentrated listening.
A broader interpretation of the term "sound object" takes any sound within a stipulated temporal limit, such as that proposed by Curtis Roads in 2001.