Digital Music History And At This Time's Best Fashionable Proponents!

Digital Music History And At This Time's Best Fashionable Proponents!

Electronic music history pre-dates the rock and roll era by decades. Most of us were not even on this planet when it started its typically obscure, under-appreciated and misunderstood development. Right now, this 'other worldly' body of sound which began close to a century ago, could no longer seem strange and distinctive as new generations have accepted a lot of it as mainstream, nevertheless it's had a bumpy road and, in finding mass audience acceptance, a gradual one.

Many musicians - the fashionable proponents of digital music - developed a passion for analogue synthesizers in the late 1970's and early 1980's with signature songs like Gary Numan's breakthrough, 'Are Pals Electrical?'. It was in this period that these devices became smaller, more accessible, more user pleasant and more affordable for many of us. In this article I will attempt to trace this history in easily digestible chapters and provide examples of at this time's greatest fashionable proponents.

To my mind, this was the start of a new epoch. To create digital music, it was now not essential to have entry to a roomful of know-how in a studio or live. Hitherto, this was solely the domain of artists the likes of Kraftwerk, whose arsenal of digital instruments and customized constructed gadgetry the rest of us could only have dreamed of, even when we could perceive the logistics of their functioning. Having said this, at the time I was growing up within the 60's & 70's, I nevertheless had little data of the complexity of work that had set a standard in previous decades to reach at this point.

The history of electronic music owes much to Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007). Stockhausen was a German Avante Garde composer and a pioneering figurehead in digital music from the 1950's onwards, influencing a movement that may eventually have a powerful impact upon names akin to Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Mind Eno, Cabaret Voltaire, Depeche Mode, to not point out the experimental work of the Beatles' and others in the 1960's. His face is seen on the duvet of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", the Beatles' 1967 master Opus. Let's begin, nonetheless, by touring a little further back in time.

The Turn of the twentieth Century

Time stood nonetheless for this stargazer when I initially discovered that the primary documented, solely digital, concerts were not in the 1970's or 1980's however in the 1920's!

The first purely electronic instrument, the Theremin, which is performed without contact, was invented by Russian scientist and cellist, Lev Termen (1896-1993), circa 1919.

In 1924, the Theremin made its live performance debut with the Leningrad Philharmonic. Interest generated by the theremin drew audiences to concert events staged across Europe and Britain. In 1930, the distinguished Carnegie Corridor in New York, skilled a efficiency of classical music using nothing but a sequence of ten theremins. Watching a number of expert musicians playing this eerie sounding instrument by waving their hands round its antennae will need to have been so exhilarating, surreal and alien for a pre-tech audience!

For those interested, check out the recordings of Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore (1911-1998). Lithuanian born Rockmore (Reisenberg) worked with its inventor in New York to good the instrument during its early years and became its most acclaimed, good and acknowledged performer and representative all through her life.

Looking back Clara, was the first celebrated 'star' of real electronic music. You're unlikely to search out more eerie, but beautiful performances of classical music on the Theremin. She's undoubtedly a favourite of mine!

Electronic DJ music in Sci-Fi, Cinema and Television

Unfortunately, and due mainly to problem in skill mastering, the Theremin's future as a musical instrument was quick lived. Eventually, it discovered a niche in 1950's Sci-Fi films. The 1951 cinema classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still", with a soundtrack by influential American film music composer Bernard Hermann (recognized for Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho", etc.), is rich with an 'extraterrestrial' score utilizing two Theremins and different electronic units melded with acoustic instrumentation.

Utilizing the vacuum-tube oscillator expertise of the Theremin, French cellist and radio telegraphist, Maurice Martenot (1898-1980), began creating the Ondes Martenot (in French, often known as the Martenot Wave) in 1928.

Using a regular and familiar keyboard which could possibly be more simply mastered by a musician, Martenot's instrument succeeded where the Theremin failed in being person-friendly. In truth, it turned the primary successful digital instrument to be used by composers and orchestras of its period till the present day.

It's featured on the theme to the original 1960's TV series "Star Trek", and will be heard on modern recordings by the likes of Radiohead and Brian Ferry.

The expressive multi-timbral Ondes Martenot, though monophonic, is the closest instrument of its generation I've heard which approaches the sound of recent synthesis.

"Forbidden Planet", launched in 1956, was the first major industrial studio film to characteristic an solely digital soundtrack... aside from introducing Robbie the Robotic and the beautiful Anne Francis! The ground-breaking score was produced by husband and spouse team Louis and Bebe Barron who, within the late 1940's, established the first privately owned recording studio within the USA recording electronic experimental artists corresponding to the enduring John Cage (whose personal Avante Garde work challenged the definition of music itself!).

The Barrons are generally credited for having widening the application of electronic music in cinema. A soldering iron in a single hand, Louis constructed circuitry which he manipulated to create a plethora of bizarre, 'unearthly' effects and motifs for the movie. As soon as carried out, these sounds couldn't be replicated as the circuit would purposely overload, smoke and burn out to supply the desired sound result.

Consequently, they had been all recorded to tape and Bebe sifted through hours of reels edited what was deemed usable, then re-manipulated these with delay and reverberation and creatively dubbed the tip product using multiple tape decks.

In addition to this laborious work methodology, I feel compelled to include that which is, arguably, the most enduring and influential electronic Television signature ever: the theme to the long running 1963 British Sci-Fi adventure sequence, "Dr. Who". It was the first time a Tv collection featured a solely digital theme. The theme to "Dr. Who" was created at the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop using tape loops and test oscillators to run by effects, file these to tape, then have been re-manipulated and edited by one other Electro pioneer, Delia Derbyshire, interpreting the composition of Ron Grainer.

As you possibly can see, digital music's prevalent utilization in classic Sci-Fi was the precept source of the general public's notion of this music as being 'different worldly' and 'alien-bizarre sounding'. This remained the case till no less than 1968 with the discharge of the hit album "Switched-On Bach" carried out completely on a Moog modular synthesizer by Walter Carlos (who, with a few surgical nips and tucks, subsequently turned Wendy Carlos).

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