December 24, 2010

Conrad Schnitzler

Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1937, Conrad Schnitzler is an essential name in the history of electronic music music during the 60′s and 70′s.

Having been pupil of composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, and being inspired by the likes of Pierre Schaeffer and John Cage, Schnitzler was co-founder of the Zodiak Club in Berlin in 1968, where the pioneering psychedelic band Agitation Free used to play. Conrad Schnitzler became a member of Tangerine Dream in 1969 recording their first and legendary album “Electronic Meditation”.
Conrad Schnitzler left the band in 1970 to form the project that would became a master key of the krautrock and experimental vanguard in Germany: the band Kluster, which was formed along with the early electronica masters Hans-Jaochim Roedelius Roedelius and Dieter Moebius. Schnitzler left the band after a couple of albums to develop a solo career oriented to the electronic and analogue synthesis experimentation.
In 1971, Schnitzler started a trilogy of albums (“Schwartz”, “Blau”, and “Rot”) in an almost extreme attitude of melodic, tonal, rhythmic, and structural minimalismism, setting the foundations of modern electronic minimalism music.

During the first half of the 70′s, Schnitzler produced numerous experiments, but this hardly saw the light until 1978 when Peter Baumann from Tangerine Dream instigated the release of his works.
By the early 80′s, Conrad Schnitzler started series of numerous releases, most of them synth pop oriented, and he finally moved back to his most experimental side in the 90′s with a series of releases in the Plate Lunch label.

Electrocon (1980/CD2006) Recorded at Paragon Studio, Berlin in 1980-81. Digital remastered at Peace Music, Tokyo, Japan 2006.

November 10, 2010

BOSS DR-110 Dr. Rhythm Graphic (1983)

The Boss Doctor Rhythm DR-110 Graphic is a drum machine, produced by the Boss product division of the Japanese Roland Corporation in 1983.
Boss were better known for producing electric guitar accessories such as effects pedals, and the DR-110 is similarly small and lightweight in size (190×110×30mm, and only 450g), and like most Boss equipment, could be run from a 9V d.c. supply or batteries. In 1980, Roland introduced their first simple and affordable drum machine to bear the BOSS Dr. Rhythm brand, the DR-55, offering four sounds, an Accent and a limited number of programmable patterns. It was followed by the Dr. Rhythm Graphic (DR-110) in 1983, which offers a wider selection of sounds, preset patterns, an increased number of programmable patterns and the ability to chain patterns together to form songs. The simple step programming of the first Dr. Rhythm, with alternating button presses for notes and rests, is augmented by an LCD with a grid showing the individual notes in the current pattern. In addition to step programming there is also a "tap write" programming mode, albeit without a metronome click for timekeeping.
The sounds are Kick, Snare, Closed Hi-Hat, Open Hi-Hat, Cymbal and Clap. The sounds are totally analog, and sound crisp and punchy, thanks to tone generation circuitry that is more sophisticated than the Roland TR-606 Drumatix. A balance knob alters the level of the Kick, Snare and Clap relative to the other sounds, while an accent knob controls the amount of emphasis applied to accented steps. There is also a volume knob, which controls the overall level of both the main and headphone outputs. The main output is mono, but has an unusual feature whereby plugging in a suitable wired lead with a stereo jack plug allows for the feeding in of another signal to be mixed with the drum sounds. Another socket provides for a trigger signal, emitting a pulse for every accented step in a pattern.
The patterns are organized into four banks of eight patterns each. Banks C and D are the presets, while banks A and B are programmable. Each pattern can be switched between 12 or 16 steps, for a 3/4 or 4/4 time signature. Two songs can be programmed, each containing a maximum of 128 bars.
At the time of writing, the Dr. Rhythm Graphic is relatively affordable compared to similar machines such as the  Roland TR-606 Drumatix, and are usually found in good condition thanks to the padded carry case that they came with. On the downside, there are no outputs or tone controls for the individual sounds, but a number of well documented modifications can be found on the Internet that add these features.

November 04, 2010

Moog Cordovox CDX-0652 White Elephant (1975-1979)

The dual-manual combo organ Moog CDX is basically a Cordovox organ with a built in Moog Satellite monosynth. It is the only organ product that bears the Moog name prominently across the front. Somewhat rare in the US, they seem to be in plentiful supply in parts of europe.

The Satellite was designed to be an organ player's synth. It was manufactured by the Thomas Organ Company, who paid a large royalty to be allowed to manufacture the Satellite for Moog. In return they were allowed to incorporate the Satellite into their organs. Thomas Organ Company also, along with Cordovox, designed the Moog CDX.

October 30, 2010

Studio Innocenti - Cosmic Disco Boschbar Monday, 01.Nov.

LES PELVIS ENRAGES noise demi-poétique (Paris) avec SYSTEM SOLEX (asymétrique surprise)
(après) STUDIO INNOCENTI Cosmic Disco
Boschbar, Sihlquai ab 23 h, 5.-

October 29, 2010

Yamaha CS-15 (1979)

The CS-30 is a large, knob infested, black analog synthesizer with traditional features. It is a monophonic synth with extensive analog control and shaping. It has two oscillators with separate outputs, two VCF resonant filters, two VCA amplifiers and three envelopes. It also features a ring modulator, external audio triggering and a simple but useful 8-step sequencer for use as a sketch pad, pattern or arpeggio effect. The CS-30 does not have any on-board effects, memory nor MIDI. Although the CS-30 is just a monophonic synth with a short 44 note keyboard it offers a lot of programming flexibility, and plenty of knobs.
This synth really has its own sound. The CS-15's got style. Built like a tank with a lot of nice knobs and best of all, not one but two of those funny sounding multimode filters. It's actually a duophonic / bitimbral synth but you have to connect it to CV (Hz/V like Korg not V/Oct) to get the extra voice. Each of the two VCOs has its own CV/Gate control.

October 26, 2010

The Past of the Future - Citroën Karin (1980)

Looking back at the car industry of the 1980s, the Citroën Karin, was one of the most revolutionary concepts. Because it didn’t have any new models to present at the 1980 Paris Auto Show, the company gave car designer Trevor Fiore the go-ahead to create an original model.

The Karin never made it onto the production line, mostly because it was an unpractical vehicle, but the futuristic design inspired other designers to get passed their traditional way of thinking, and opened the way for the beautiful vehicles we see on the streets today.

October 23, 2010

Steiner-Parker Synthacon (1975-1979)

The Steiner-Parker Synthacon was a monophonic analog synthesizer built from 1975-1979 by Salt Lake City-based based synthesizer manufacturer Steiner Parker. It featured three voltage-controlled oscillators (one of which could output sine and sawtooth waves and two of which could output sawtooth, pulse and triangle waves), a two-pole resonant Sallen Key Filter, two ADSR envelope generators, a pink- and- white noise generator, and a 49-key keyboard. While the Synthacon was not a modular system, signal routing could be achieved through a series of switches. Interestingly, the Synthacon's filter can self-oscillate like the Minimoog, but has an opposite polarity so it doesn't lose any volume when resonance is increased as do the Minimoog and Arp Odyssey's filters. Earlier models of the Synthacon had silver-faced front panels. Later a duophonic upgrade, the "Two Voice Synthacon" was released.

October 18, 2010

Laurie Spiegel plays 1977 Bell Labs Hal Alles Synth

Concerto for Self-Accompanying Digital Synthesizer. The instrument is possibly the first realtime digital synthesizer, built at Bell Telephone Labs, NJ by Hal Alles and team, with C language software written by Laurie Spiegel that processes the player's live input into an ongoing accompaniment that will continue to be played live against.

October 17, 2010

Tom Oberheim - Inventor of the Polyphonic Synthesizer

Thomas Elroy Oberheim (*1936 in Manhattan / Kansas), known as Tom Oberheim, is the inventor of the first polyphonic music synthesizer.

He has been the founder of three audio electronics companies. The companies are Oberheim, Marion Systems & Seasound. He participated in the development of the MIDI standard.

Oberheim Electronics was founded in 1973 and manufactured audio synthesizers and a variety of other electronic musical instruments. Originally a manufacturer of electronic effects devices, and briefly an ARP Instruments dealer, Oberheim went on to create several ground-breaking products in the early days of synthesizers and electronic music including the DS-2 (one of the first digital music sequencers) and the Synthesizer Expansion Module (SEM). The first commercially available polyphonic synthesizers, Oberheims Two-voice TVS-1, Four-voice FVS-1, and Eight-voice, which was the four voice frame with an external 4 SEM module, configurations were based on the SEM.

Originally released in 1974, the SEM is one of the classic discrete analog synths. The Two-voice synthesizer included a two channel voltage controlled sequencer, and the Four-voice and Eight-voice machines included a rudimentary Programmer, capable of recalling sound settings.

Oberheim's later synths like the OB-X and OB-Xa abandoned the relatively bulky SEMs in favor of individual or compact voice cards, and common cabinetry and power supplies. Oberheim continued to make synthesizers until the late 1980s. Other notable Oberheim synthesizers include the OB-1 (monophonic), the OB-8, the Xpander, the Matrix-6, the Matrix-12, and Matrix 1000.

Oberheim closed its doors in 1986, when it was acquired by Gibson Guitar Corporation, a larger musical instrument manufacturer, who made, in collaboration with Don Buchla, the OBM-X.

In 1987, after the sale of the Oberheim company, Tom Oberheim created the company Marion Systems (named after his daughter Emily Marion) the new company specialized, once again, in sound products. The first product was a 12-bit to 16-bit option for Akai's S900 sampler. Marion Systems was formerly in Santa Monica and later Lafayette in California. After the end of Marion Systems, Tom developed Seasound.

Recently, Oberheim began selling an updated version of his original SEM with upgraded electronics. As with the original, the new SEM was a true analog synthesizer. In 2009, he released a second version of the SEM with MIDI control.

October 16, 2010

White Star (D/1983)

Der abgehalfterte Musikmanager Ken Barlow im Berlin der frühen Achtziger war einmal ein erfolgreicher Rock-Tourmanager, doch seine Glanzzeit ist längst vorüber. Als letzte Chance will er den mittelmäßigen Musiker Moody und dessen Album White Star in die Charts pushen und bedient sich dazu immer ausgefallener Methoden, als der Erfolg ausbleibt. Für den eher farblosen und willensschwachen Musiker versucht Barlow, seine alten Kontakte im Musikbusiness zu nutzen und dringt mehrmals in die Zentrale der großen Plattenfirma Eurosound ein, doch am Ende wimmelt man ihn ab. Als allerletztes Mittel bleibt Barlow nur noch die Inszenierung eines Attentates auf Moody, um ihn in die Zeitungen zu bringen und damit den erhofften Albumumsatz zu erzielen.

Roland Klick (u.a. "Deadlock", 1970) drehte mit Dennis Hopper in englischer Sprache und ließ ihn dann deutsch nachsynchronisieren (mit der Stimme des bekannten deutschen Synchronsprechers Christian Brückner). Hopper selbst war in einem Zustand, der aufgrund seines exzessiven Kokainkonsums kaum Möglichkeiten für lange Dreharbeiten ließ. Außerdem kam es am Set zu Vorkommnissen wie einem Autounfall, bei dem Hopper Roland Klick über den Fuß fuhr. Die Dreharbeiten ziehen sich über zwei Jahre hin, am Ende konnte nur ein Teil des Drehplans realisiert werden. Der Regisseur und Kameramann Jürgen Jürges versuchten, nachdem mit Dennis Hopper nur eine Folge explosiver und kaum ruhiger Szenen gedreht werden konnten, im nachhinein noch durch Aufnahmen von Westberlin, vor allem bei Nacht, den Film zu retten. Trotzdem macht der Film einen fragmentarischen und eher seltsamen Eindruck, grossartig ist aber Hoppers überaus starke Performance, die sehr persönliche Züge trägt.

WHITE STAR (1983) 92 Min.

incl. KORG PE-2000, ELKA Rhapsody, PPG Modular , Oberheim OB-X

October 15, 2010

October 14, 2010

Léon Theremin - Good Vibrations for Comrade general secretary Lenin

Léon Theremin (born Lev Sergeyevich Termen) in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire in 1896 († 3 November 1993, Moscow) was a russian inventor and most famous for his invention "The Theremin", one of the very first electronic musical instruments.

He is also the inventor of "Interlace", a technique of improving the picture quality of a video signal, widely used in video and television technology. His invention of "The Thing", an espionage tool, is considered a predecessor of RFID (Radio-frequency identification) technology.

Theremin was legendary by invented the electronic musical instrument that bears his name, and his story is as strange as the music the thing produces. After experimenting with radio vacuum tubes, Theremin developed a machine (1917-20) whose pitch and volume could be controlled by the movements of the performer's hands -- without touching the instrument. The instrument was demonstrated for Lenin, who was so impressed he ordered their mass production and asked Theremin to give him lessons.

In 1927 Theremin emigrated to the United States, where he patented the "Thereminvox" (1928) and contracted with RCA to market and distribute them. During the '20s and '30s Theremin worked in New York and associated with high society, and his instrument gained fame thanks in part to the classical performances of the great thereminist Clara Rockmore.

In 1938 Theremin mysteriously disappeared from his New York apartment, reportedly spirited away by a group of Russian men.

Beginning in the 1940s the Theremin was used for movie soundtracks, and these days is most commonly associated with 1950s science fiction films (and with the 1960s pop song by The Beach Boys, "Good Vibrations"). The instrument enjoyed fame in the US and the UK, but the whereabouts of its inventor remained a mystery. As it turns out, he had been kidnapped by the Soviet secret police, imprisoned for seven years and then put to work for Soviet intelligence.

(to be continued)

October 12, 2010

Aleatory Composing

Get more inspired with playing by colours.

October 11, 2010

The Moog Modular Story

When most people think of synthesizers they think of all-in-one instruments that are programmed by pushing buttons, turning knobs, or pushing sliders. However, that is not the way it all began.
The first synthesizers were modular, in that they were a group of modules that each performed a separate function. For example, one module, called an oscillator, produced a waveform (sawtooth, sine, pulse, etc...) and another, the amplifier, modified the amplitude (volume) of the waveform. Each of these two modules had inputs for control voltage (CV). For the oscillator, the higher the control voltage, the higher the frequency of the wave. For the amplifier, the higher the control voltage, the larger the amplitude of the waveform was, and therefor the volume of the sound. These modules can be patched together in an almost infinite number of ways, making sound far more complex than today's synthesizers can even dream of making.

Moog Modular Synthesizer System refers to any of a number of monophonic analog modular synthesizers designed by the late electronic instrument pioneer Dr. Robert Moog and manufactured by R.A Moog Co. (Moog Music after 1972) from about 1963 until 1981. In 1964, Robert Moog created one of the first modular voltage-controlled music synthesizers, and demonstrated it at the AES convention that year. Moog employed his theremin company to manufacture and market his synthesizers which, unlike the synthesizers created by Don Buchla (the other prominent figure in the early history of the synthesizer), featured a piano-style keyboard as a significant portion of the user interface. Moog also established standards for analog synthesizer control interfacing, with a logarithmic one volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse triggering signal.

Between the years 1967 and 1981, Moog Music was designing, improving upon, and selling modules for their modular synthesizers. Although each modular system was available custom configured, there were many stock design models of the Moog modular synthesizer. Models included: 3C, 2C, 1C, 3P, 2P, 1P, 10, 12, 15, 55, 35, and C.E.M.S. (Co-ordinated Electronic Music Studio).

1967 Modular System III
The Moog modular system consists of a number of various modules mounted in a cabinet. Each module performs a specific signal-generating or -modifying function. These modules offered unprecedented control over creating sounds by allowing a user to modify primary sound waveforms (sine waves, square waves and other waveforms provided by voltage controlled oscillators or VCO) with amplitude modulators (voltage controlled amplifiers or VCA) and spectral modulators (voltage controlled filters (VCF) or fixed filter banks) and other modifiers. Envelope generators provided further control by modulating the attack, decay, sustain and release (ADSR) parameters of the VCAs, VCFs and other modules. The modules are patched together with patch cords with ¼i-inch mono plugs. The patch cords and module parameter knobs could be adjusted in countless ways to create a nearly infinite number of sounds. The final sound was heard ('triggered') from the system by pressing a key on an attached keyboard or pressing on the ribbon controller.

Patent - The Filter Ladder
Oct. 28, 1969 -- R.A.MOOG -- Patent no. 3,475,623
Filed Oct. 10, 1966

In the early and experimental days of electronic instruments, Moog sold made-to-order synthesizer systems composed of whatever modules the musician desired. Starting in 1967, the company began manufacturing a number of pre-assembled stock modular systems that contained a predetermined number of modules. Later on, these systems were manufactured and modified based on customer specifications. Produced from 1967 to 1972, the earliest Moog modular systems were named the Moog 3, the Moog 2, and the Moog 1. The "C" series featured solid walnut cabinets and, starting in 1970, the "P" series, designed for portability, came in a road case.From 1971 to 1973, the Moog 10 and the Moog 12 were manufactured, each mounted in a road case. Produced from 1972 to 1981, the Moog 15, the Moog 35 and the Moog 55 featured walnut cabinets like the earlier "C" series. Moog also produced the Moog Co-ordinated Electronic Music Studio ( C.E.M.S.).

The Moog modular synthesizer offered musicians a revolutionary new way to produce sound when it was released in the 1960s. It was originally intended for use in recording studios and universities and was not intended for (or widely embraced by) musicians for use in live performance. The analog electronics of the system often made sound generation unreliable and unpredictable during live performances. For example, the VCOs were notorious for their inability to hold a fixed frequency for any extended period of time and would often change pitch and go out of tune, especially in hot or damp environments. Additionally, modular sounds could not be programmed and stored for retrieval due to the instrument's analog nature. Changing sounds on the system was a time-consuming task requiring the physical re-routing of numerous patch cords and manual knob adjustments.

1969 Moog 3P with 3 add portable cabinets plus accessoires (totally 71 modules)

Another common problem is the Moog's incompatibility with the gate/trigger voltage used in most other synthesizers of the time. Moog equipment used a high-state logic called S-trig, which maintained at +8-10 volts until the trigger was sent, dropping the voltage to 0, the opposite of what was commonly used by other manufacturers. In addition to this incompatibility, if a certain patch used an extensive amount of triggering connections, each module would cause a voltage drop sending the logic over into low-state and firing the S-trigger.

In spite of all its shortcomings, a few notable artists successfully toured with Moog modular systems:
Wendy Carlos, John Cage, Paul Bley, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Gershon Kingsley, Dick Hyman, Klaus Wunderlich, Eberhard Schoener, George Harrison, Keith Emerson, Sun Ra, Earthstar, Vangelis, Klaus Schulze, Edgar Froese, Florian Fricke (of Popol Vuh), Vince Clarke, Beaver & Krause, Giorgio Moroder, Isao Tomita, Yellow Magic Orchestra (a.o.)

Wendy Carlo's Modular Moog

Stevie Wonder plays the Arp and Moog synthesizers on the album "Talking Book", with Robert Margouleff and the Tonto's Expanding Head Band (T.O.N.T.O.) "The Original New Timbral Orchestra" became a drastically expanding Moog Modular Series 3, Moog Sytems 55 were played by Larry Fast and Richard Pinhas – and even Mick Jagger "plays" a Moog in the Movie 'Performance'.

The first Moog system was bought by choreographer Alwin Nikolais. Lothar and the Hand People began using the modular Moog in 1965. Composers Eric Siday and Chris Swansen were also among the first customers, with Paul Beaver being the first to use a modular Moog on a record in 1967. It was Wendy Carlos' 1968 Switched-On Bach which featured Carlos' custom-built modular synthesizer as the only instrument on the recording which brought widespread interest to the Moog synthesizer. Shortly after, Keith Emerson, the Monkees, Jan Hammer, Tangerine Dream, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones also became owners of modular Moogs.

Modular System of Tonto's Expanding Head BandThis new popularity led to the 1970 release of the classic Minimoog and subsequent Moog synthesizers, modeled after the larger modular systems and designed for portability, usability, and affordability. A number of universities purchased Moog systems or modules; the University of Iowa where composer Peter Tod Lewis was a faculty member, for example, owned a Moog Modular IIIC with an optional double-sequencer addition.
The Moog modular synthesizer is considered by enthusiasts to be the original and definitive synthesizer. Although digital synthesizers and samplers are generally more user friendly than a modular synthesizer and available at a fraction of the price that it would take to acquire and maintain a modular system, modular Moogs continue to be valued by collectors and musicians alike.

October 10, 2010

Moog Operator you local Moog Operator!
(Official Ad from 1979)

October 09, 2010

The Moog Modular 3C

Keyboard-Warrior Keith Emerson plays the Moog Modular 3C with extra modules including a TV monitor and progammer modules
Courtesy of Mark Glinsky (Photo)

White Moog Modular 3C

October 07, 2010

Elka Panther 300

Elka Panther 300 Combo Organ 1966 (White Edition)

The Italian company Elka, which produced originally accordions, made a variety of combo organs since the mid-60s, and later various types of analog synthesizers, among others of the legendary Synthex from 1984.

The Elka Panther 300 is probably one of the rarest and coolest looking combo organs. It was marketed under the name Elka as well as Unicord. The Panther 300 sounds very similar to a Vox Continental, but it also has a wonderful mellow flute sound and a string registration that is similar to Farfisa. It was available in several color combinations.

September 30, 2010

Melting Sun

Cosmic Art by Nando

August 14, 2010

Edgar Froese - Sobornost (1981)

Solo TV performance by Tangerine Dream's Edgar Froese playing the Oberheim Four Voice Polyphonic Synth

July 24, 2010

Johann Timman - Trip Into The Body (1981)

Here is a true classic. The Dutchman Johan Timman was equipped by Moog in 1981 to implement his music. Then he issued "Trip Into The Body" in 1981.
Each piece describes a different part of the body and is characterized by its lively style of play, the melodies and the unique atmosphere created and already a classic. A great trip into the body.

On “The Brain”, the annoyance of synth cymbals is easily forgotten by the heavy orchestration. Timman, filling the entire spectrum of sound, not just here, but on the whole album.
“The Heart”, opens with a steady, pounding, rather-human-like (for electronic-percussion) beat. Steadily riding the fine line between campy and classic, the melody is solid, but the tone, perhaps merely a victim of time, runs the verge of being cheesy.
The next two tracks are eerily similar in sound and structure. They both exude a haunting feel, even when things, musically, go major. “The Windpipe” is hinted at several times in the second half of “The Blood Cells And The Antibodies”.
“The Hemoglobin” serves as an effective, yet forgettable track for travelling from “The Lungs” to “Inside The Tympanic Cavity”, where things are simple, yet spooky. Droning synth’s throughout underlie a methodic, question and answer lead line.

The last track, “Hearing (Ocean of Sound)” reminds on Kraftwerk’s "Computerwelt" immediately, but is less edgy, less constrained, but harkens to earlier Kraftwerk efforts for its anthemic personality.

July 23, 2010

Synthgirls@work (III)

Naomi Jarman of the progressive electronic band "Crisum". She handles the keyboards for the group, along with David Goodman.

When Jarman’s not wielding the Yamaha KX5 Keytar, she’s at the helm of a massive Analogue Systems – System 8500 Modular synthesizer.

June 08, 2010

Farfisa FAST Series (1968 - 1971)

The FAST (Farfisa All Silicon Transistor) Series models had a metal cabinet covered with a washable skin plate and plastic edges, chrome folding legs, retractable carrying handles, and a removable music rack. This model of Farfisa was used by Philip Glass on some of his early recordings. This series had the combo organs (FAST 2,3,4,5,Console), and the Professional (Original, Duo, and Pianos)

Farfisa Fast 3
Features: Keyboard 49 notes, Manual Bass: 12 notes, Voice Stops: Bass, Clarinet, Flute, Oboe, Trumpet, Strings, Vibrato Stops: On/off, Fast/slow, Manual Bass Selector: Bass/treble, Piano/forte, Swell pedal: Optional

June 06, 2010

Throbbing Gristle - 20 Jazz Funk Greats (1979)

20 Jazz Funk Greats is the third studio album by the british Industrial Music pioneers Throbbing Gristle. It was released in December 1979, through record label Industrial. It is the band's first fully studio album, as prior albums contained both live and studio recordings. The production is credited to "Sinclair/Brooks". The album's cover photograph was taken at Beachy Head, a chalk headland on the south coast of England, close to the town of Eastbourne in the county of East Sussex, and one of the world's most notorious suicide spots. On the 1981 Fetish Records issue of the release an apparently dead and naked male body lay in front of the band on the album cover. Someone described the album's style as such: "In a smash and grab that testifies to both increased musical ambition and a relentless urge to wrongfoot audience expectations, 20 Jazz Funk Greats finds the band waking up from D.O.A.'s dark night of the soul and feeling curiously frisky. Snacking on not only the titular funk and jazz, the band also takes touristic zig zags through exotica, rock and disco", ultimately describing it as a "kitsch detour toward mutant disco".

June 03, 2010

Pierre Schaeffer - Father of Musique concrète

Born in Nancy, France, 1910, Pierre Schaeffer († 1995) is told to be the Father of musique concrète and one of the pioneers in the use of electronic technologies.
Being a technician who had studies at the Polytechnic School in Paris, he was not originally a musician and he used to work as an engineer and broadcaster at the Radiodiffusion Television Francaises (RTF). In 1942, Pierre Schaeffer started a studio for the science of musical acoustics at the RTF, experimenting with phonograph turntables and a large library of sound effect records. During his experiments with turntables, Schaeffer discovered a technique to create loops, making the needle go back to the same position. At the same time, he started working with the isolation of naturally produced sounds, which was the beginning of musique concrete which was working with natural sounds recorded and played back in a musical context.
In 1948, Pierre Schaeffer started a series of experiments on the timbre, attack and decay of percussive instruments by recording bell tones and using a volume control between the mike and cutter to eliminate the attack. Interested in the creation of banks of pre-recorded sounds that could be manipulated from an instrument, he created the Phonogene, a keyboard that could transpose a loop in 12 distinct steps , which was an predecesor of Mellotron. Schaeffer used this device in his composition “Concert for Locomotives”, playing samples of trains. Later he began to play records at different speeds, affecting the amplitude envelopes of the sounds.
In 1949, Schaeffer worked on the “Symphonie pour un Homme Seul” in which all of the sounds were created by the human body, along with the composer Pierre Henry, who was asigned by the RTF to help in Schaeffer’s investigations. This was one of the most important works in early musique concrète, which was performed in 1950 in Paris using a PA system, several turntables, and mixers.

In 1951, RTF provided Pierre Schaeffer with a new studio and he began his first experiments in spacial sound, using several speakers and also co- founded the Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrete where other composers where involved such as Pierre Henry, Olivier Messiaen and his pupils Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and George Barraque.
Pierre Schaeffer’s legacy to the music was also his study of classification and definition of the musical syntax, classifying aspects of the sound and creating definitions like length, complexity, extracts, manipulation, transmission, modulation, etc. These characteristics were published in his book “The Search for a Concrete Music” in 1952.
Pierre Schaeffer died in 1995 at the age of 85. His work has been highly influencial in some of the most brilliant composers from the 20th Century. He has also influenced several generations of electronic musicians, including Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre or Steve Reich.