When people talk about electronic music, they are often talking about club DJs who spin dance tracks and other audio that has been pumped out of a Drum Machine patch in Garage Band, along with a nice beat and played as loud as humanly possible. But the history of that dance music that is constantly evolving, and yet still sounds like disco no matter how you slice it, is actually quite fascinating. There was a period – in the early 20th Century – when electronic music was the realm of inventors, engineers, and other people with an interest in technology, and the sounds that technology could make.
Of course, music itself can be produced entirely without electricity, but you wouldn’t know it from the way it is played and heard by modern ears. Even acoustic instruments are amplified electronically, all much is recorded with computers and other electronic capturing devices, and even in the case of analog tape recording, electricity still powers the recording process. No matter how you slice it, unless you produce a wax cylinder using the acoustic Edison technology that lasted for the first 20 years of recorded music, it would be impossible to separate electricity and music. And why would you want to?
Still, in the case of this specific story, it is the post-war reality of the UK that was the right environment for a small knot of electronic composers that not only created music like nothing else heard before, but invented the equipment and the way these devices are performed. Outsider artists, maybe. Bucking trends, certainly. Their music was never mainstream, and never popular. These artists – more experimenters and engineers than musicians – went on to set the tone for what electronic music could be during the early years, and it would take Robert Moog’s contributions in the coming years before electronic music would move away from these odd, home-brewed instruments, and could be performed on anything that looked remotely like a piano keyboard.
In particular, this show focuses on introducing Electronic Music, and two key players in the field: Tristram Cary & Peter Zinovieff, though this is a bigger story than can be told in one hour, so stay tuned. Mid-Valley Mutations will tackle Part II of this story soon enough. Consider this a subset of my History Lesson programs, as it not only slots in nicely in that context, but also covers a kind of music that is often overlooked, and commonly forgotten.
Hopefully, not for much longer.
A point of order, for those who are keeping score: Santiago Lattore is from Spain. My bad.
How Electronic Music Is Created (#7)
Part I: “This technology is revolutionizing music. “
01.) What The Future Sounded Like * Matthew Bate * Porthmeor Productions (2007)
02.) Discovering Electronic Music * Bernard Wilets * Barr Films (1983)
03.) Telstar * Not Breathing * Itchy Tingles * Invisible Records (2000)
04.) Dribcots Space Boat * Joe Meek & The Blue Men * I Hear A New World * RPM Records (1991)
05.) Kometenmelodie 2 * Kraftwerk * Autobahn * Phillips Records (1974)
06.) Noisy Neighbors * RO Berger * The Euston Sampler * Robin Berger (2008)
07.) Silver Apples Of The Moon Part 1 * Morton Subotnick * OHM: The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music * Ellipsis Arts (2000)
Part II: “Dreaming of A Future Soundscape of London”
08.) Slow Ice, Old Moon * Brian Eno * Small Craft On A Milk Sea * Warp Records (2010)
09.) Alpha * Santiago Latorre * Órbita *Accretions Records (2008)
10.) Music For Light (Red/White) * Tristram Cary * It’s Time For Tristram Cary: Works for film, television, exhibition & sculpture * Trunk Records (2010)
11.) Beyond [Excerpt] * Emptyset * Emptyset * Caravan Records (2009)
12.) corc * Autechre * LP5 * Warp Records (1998)
Part III: “Large and unwieldy. Not designed for the purpose.”
16.) Three Titles * Project Perfect * PM+ * Community Library Records (2007)
17.) Zama * Cold Pizza * Now Buying Souls By Appointment Only * Self-Released (2003)
18.) January Tensions [Excerpt] * Peter Zinovieff * Electronic Calendar – The EMS Tapes * Space Age Recordsings (2015)
19.) Shores Here, Shores There [Excerpt] * Fragile X * End Without World * Pecho Grande (2005)