Electronic music explained

For other uses see Electronic music (disambiguation).

See also: List of electronic music genres.

Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments and electronic music technology in its production. [1] In general a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means and that produced using electronic technology.[2] Examples of electromechanical sound producing devices include the telharmonium, Hammond organ, and the electric guitar. Purely electronic sound production can be achieved using devices such as the Theremin, sound synthesizer, and computer.[3]

Electronic music was once associated almost exclusively with Western art music but from the late 1960s on the availability of affordable music technology meant that music produced using electronic means became increasingly common in the popular domain.[4] Today electronic music includes many varieties and ranges from experimental art music to popular forms such as electronic dance music.

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History

Late 19th century to early 20th century

The ability to record sounds is often connected to the production of electronic music, but not absolutely necessary for it. The earliest known sound recording device was the phonautograph, patented in 1857 by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. It could record sounds visually, but was not meant to play them back.[5]

In 1878, Thomas A. Edison patented the phonograph, which used cylinders similar to Scott's device. Although cylinders continued in use for some time, Emile Berliner developed the disc phonograph in 1887.[6]

A significant invention, which was later to have a profound effect on electronic music, was Lee DeForest's triode audion. This was the first thermionic valve, or vacuum tube, invented in 1906, which led to the generation and amplification of electrical signals, radio broadcasting, and electronic computation, amongst other things.

Before electronic music, there was a growing desire for composers to use emerging technologies for musical purposes. Several instruments were created that employed electromechanical designs and they paved the way for the later emergence of electronic instruments. An electromechanical instrument called the Telharmonium (sometimes Teleharmonium or Dynamophone) was developed by Thaddeus Cahill in the years 1898-1912. However, simple inconvenience hindered the adoption of the Telharmonium, due to its immense size. The first electronic instrument is often viewed to be the Theremin, invented by Professor Leon Theremin circa 1919–1920.[7] Another early electronic instrument was the Ondes Martenot, which was most famously used in the Turangalîla-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen as well as other works by him. It was also used by other, primarily French, composers such as Andre Jolivet.

"New Aesthetic of Music"

See main article: Ferruccio Busoni. Just a year later, another significant contribution was made to the advent of experimental music. This was the 1907 publication of Ferruccio Busoni's Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music, which discussed the use of electrical and other new sound sources in future music. He wrote of the future of microtonal scales in music, made possible by Cahill's Dynamophone:

Only a long and careful series of experiments, and a continued training of the ear, can render this unfamiliar material approachable and plastic for the coming generation, and for Art.[8]

Also in the Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music, Busoni states:

Quote:

Music as an art, our so-called occidental music, is hardly four hundred years old; its state is one of development, perhaps the very first stage of a development beyond present conception, and we—we talk of "classics" and "hallowed traditions"! And we have talked of them for a long time!

We have formulated rules, stated principles, laid down laws;—we apply laws made for maturity to a child that knows nothing of responsibility!

Young as it is, this child, we already recognize that it possesses one radiant attribute which signalizes it beyond all its elder sisters. And the lawgivers will not see this marvelous attribute, lest their laws should be thrown to the winds. This child—it floats on air! It touches not the earth with its feet. It knows no law of gravitation. It is wellnigh incorporeal. Its material is transparent. It is sonorous air. It is almost Nature herself. It is—free!

But freedom is something that mankind have never wholly comprehended, never realized to the full. They can neither recognize or acknowledge it.

They disavow the mission of this child; they hang weights upon it. This buoyant creature must walk decently, like anybody else. It may scarcely be allowed to leap—when it were its joy to follow the line of the rainbow, and to break sunbeams with the clouds.[9]

Through this writing, as well as personal contact, Busoni had a profound effect on many musicians and composers, perhaps most notably on his pupil, Edgard Varèse, who said:

Together we used to discuss what direction the music of the future would, or rather, should take and could not take as long as the straitjacket of the tempered system. He deplored that his own keyboard instrument had conditioned our ears to accept only an infinitesimal part of the infinite gradations of sounds in nature. He was very much interested in the electrical instruments we began to hear about, and I remember particularly one he had read of called the Dynamophone. All through his writings one finds over and over again predictions about the music of the future which have since come true. In fact, there is hardly a development that he did not foresee, as for instance in this extraordinary prophecy: 'I almost think that in the new great music, machines will also be necessary and will be assigned a share in it. Perhaps industry, too, will bring forth her share in the artistic ascent.[10]

Futurists

See main article: Futurism. In Italy, the Futurists were coming at the changing aesthetic from a different angle, but one that also affected the world of classical music. A major thrust of the Futurist philosophy was to value "noise," and to place artistic and expressive value on sounds that had previously not been considered even remotely musical. Balilla Pratella's "Technical Manifesto of Futurist Music" (1911) states that their credo is:

To present the musical soul of the masses, of the great factories, of the railways, of the transatlantic liners, of the battleships, of the automobiles and airplanes. To add to the great central themes of the musical poem the domain of the machine and the victorious kingdom of Electricity.|[11]

On 11 March 1913, futurist Luigi Russolo published his manifesto "The Art of Noises". In 1914 he held the first "art-of-noises" concert in Milan on April 21. This used his Intonarumori, described by Russolo as "acoustical noise-instruments, whose sounds (howls, roars, shuffles, gurgles, etc.) were hand-activated and projected by horns and megaphones."[12] In June, similar concerts were held in Paris.

The 1920–1930s

This decade brought a wealth of early electronic instruments. Along with the Theremin, there is the presentation of the Ondes Martenot[13], which was designed to reproduce the microtonal sounds found in Hindu music, and the Trautonium. Maurice Martenot invented the Ondes Martenot in 1928, and soon demonstrated it in Paris.

Another development, which aroused the interest of many composers, occurred in 1919–1920. In Leningrad, Leon Theremin (actually Lev Termen) built and demonstrated his Etherophone, which was later renamed the Theremin. This led to the first compositions for electronic instruments, as opposed to noisemakers and re-purposed machines. In 1929, Joseph Schillinger composed First Airphonic Suite for Theremin and Orchestra, premièred with the Cleveland Orchestra with Leon Theremin as soloist.

In 1924, Ottorino Respighi composed The Pines of Rome, which calls for the use of a phonograph recording of nightingales. However, at the time of composition, phonograph players were acoustical, not electric, and this is actually more along the lines of using a sound effect, and therefore cannot be considered an electroacoustic element in the composition.

The following year, Antheil first composed for mechanical devices, electrical noisemakers, motors and amplifiers in his unfinished opera, Mr. Bloom, as a response to the "art of noises" of Luigi Russolo, Marinetti and the other Futurists. And just one year later in 1926, was the première of Antheil's Ballet Mécanique, using car horns, airplane propellers, saws, and anvils (but no electronics).

Recording of sounds made a leap in 1927, when American inventor J. A. O'Neill developed a recording device that used magnetically coated ribbon. However, this was a commercial failure. Two years later, Laurens Hammond established his company for the manufacture of electronic instruments. He went on to produce the Hammond organ, which was based on the principles of the Telharmonium, along with other developments including early reverberation units.[14]

The method of photo-optic sound recording used in cinematography made it possible to obtain a visible image of a sound wave, as well as to realize the opposite goal—synthesizing a sound from an artificially drawn sound wave. The research work by the Russian optical engineer Evgeny Murzin taken from 1937 to 1957 made it possible to create a photoelectric synthesizer—a musical instrument that combined three processes: creation, recording, and playback of music. Murzin named his invention in honour of the composer Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin (“ANS”).

Developments from 1945 to 1960

Musique concrète

See main article: Musique concrète.

See also: Acousmatic music. Low-fidelity magnetic wire recorders had been in use since 1898 but it was not until the 1930s that the German electronics company AEG developed the first practical tape recorder, the "Magnetophon". During World War II AEG technicians discovered the AC biasing technique, which dramatically improved the fidlelity of magnetic recording by adding an inaudible high-frequency tone, and by 1943 AEG had developed the first stereo tape recorders. However these devices and techniques remained a secret outside Germany until the end of WWII, when captured Magnetophon recorders and reels of Farben recording tape were brought back to the United States by Jack Mullin and others. These captured recorders and tapes were the basis for the development of the first commercial tape recorder, the Model 200, manufactured by the American Ampex company (Angus 1984) with support from entertainer Bing Crosby, who became the first performer to record radio broadcasts and studio master recordings on tape.

It wasn't long before composers began using the tape recorder to develop a new technique for composition called Musique concrète. This technique involved editing together recorded fragments of natural and industrial sounds.[15] The first pieces of musique concrète were assembled by Pierre Schaeffer, who went on to collaborate with Pierre Henry.

On 5 October 1948, Radiodiffusion Française (RDF) broadcast composer Pierre Schaeffer's Etude aux chemins de fer. This was the first "movement" of Cinq études de bruits, and marked the beginning of studio realizations and musique concrète (or acousmatic music). Schaeffer employed a disk-cutting lathe, four turntables, a four-channel mixer, filters, an echo chamber, and a mobile recording unit.

Not long after this, Henry began collaborating with Schaeffer, a partnership that would have profound and lasting affects on the direction of electronic music. Another associate of Schaeffer, Edgard Varèse began work on Déserts, a work for chamber orchestra and tape. The tape parts were created at Pierre Schaeffer's studio, and were later revised at Columbia University.

In 1950, Schaeffer gave the first public (non-broadcast) concert of musique concrète at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. "Schaeffer used a PA system, several turntables, and mixers. The performance did not go well, as creating live montages with turntables had never been done before."[16] Later that same year, Pierre Henry collaborated with Schaeffer on Symphonie pour un homme seul (1950) the first major work of musique concrete. In Paris in 1951, in what was to become an important worldwide trend, RTF established the first studio for the production of electronic music. Also in 1951, Schaeffer and Henry produced an opera, Orpheus, for concrete sounds and voices.

Elektronische Musik

Karlheinz Stockhausen worked briefly in Schaeffer's studio in 1952, and afterward for many years at the WDR Cologne's Studio for Electronic Music.

In Cologne, what would become the most famous electronic music studio in the world was officially opened at the radio studios of the NWDR in 1953, though it had been in the planning stages as early as 1950 and early compositions were made and broadcast in 1951.[17] The brain child of Werner Meyer-Eppler, Robert Beyer, and Herbert Eimert (who became its first director), the studio was soon joined by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Gottfried Michael Koenig. In his 1949 thesis Elektronische Klangerzeugung: Elektronische Musik und Synthetische Sprache, Meyer-Eppler conceived the idea to synthesize music entirely from electronically produced signals; in this way, elektronische Musik was sharply differentiated from French musique concrète, which used sounds recorded from acoustical sources.[18]

With Stockhausen and Mauricio Kagel in residence, it became a year-round hive of charismatic avante-gardism [''sic'']" [19] on two occasions combining electronically generated sounds with relatively conventional orchestras—in Mixtur (1964) and Hymnen, dritte Region mit Orchester (1967).[20] Stockhausen stated that his listeners had told him his electronic music gave them an experience of "outer space," sensations of flying, or being in a "fantastic dream world"[21] More recently, Stockhausen turned to producing electronic music in his own studio in Kürten, his last work in the genre being Cosmic Pulses (2007).

American electronic music

In the United States, sounds were being created electronically and used in composition, as exemplified in a piece by Morton Feldman called Marginal Intersection. This piece is scored for winds, brass, percussion, strings, 2 oscillators, and sound effects of riveting, and the score uses Feldman's graph notation.

The Music for Magnetic Tape Project was formed by members of the New York School (John Cage, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, David Tudor, and Morton Feldman),[22] and lasted three years until 1954. Cage wrote of this collaboration,

In this social darkness, therefore, the work of Earle Brown, Morton Feldman, and Christian Wolff continues to present a brilliant light, for the reason that at the several points of notation, performance, and audition, action is provocative.|[23]

Cage completed Williams Mix in 1953 while working with the Music for Magnetic Tape Project.[24] The group had no permanent facility, and had to rely on borrowed time in commercial sound studios, including the studio of Louis and Bebe Barron.

Columbia-Princeton

See main article: Vladimir Ussachevsky. Also in the U.S., in the same year, significant developments were happening in New York City. Columbia University purchased its first tape recorder—a professional Ampex machine—for the purpose of recording concerts.

Vladimir Ussachevsky, who was on the music faculty of Columbia University, was placed in charge of the device, and almost immediately began experimenting with it.

Herbert Russcol writes: "Soon he was intrigued with the new sonorities he could achieve by recording musical instruments and then superimposing them on one another."[25]

Ussachevsky said later: "I suddenly realized that the tape recorder could be treated as an instrument of sound transformation."[25]

On Thursday, May 8, 1952, Ussachevsky presented several demonstrations of tape music/effects that he created at his Composers Forum, in the McMillin Theatre at Columbia University. These included Transposition, Reverberation, Experiment, Composition, and Underwater Valse. In an interview, he stated: "I presented a few examples of my discovery in a public concert in New York together with other compositions I had written for conventional instruments."[25] Otto Luening, who had attended this concert, remarked: "The equipment at his disposal consisted of an Ampex tape recorder . . . and a simple box-like device designed by the brilliant young engineer, Peter Mauzey, to create feedback, a form of mechanical reverberation. Other equipment was borrowed or purchased with personal funds."[26]

Just three months later, in August 1952, Ussachevsky traveled to Bennington, Vermont at Luening's invitation to present his experiments. There, the two collaborated on various pieces. Luening described the event: "Equipped with earphones and a flute, I began developing my first tape-recorder composition. Both of us were fluent improvisors and the medium fired our imaginations."[26] They played some early pieces informally at a party, where "a number of composers almost solemnly congratulated us saying, 'This is it' ('it' meaning the music of the future)."[26]

Word quickly reached New York City. Oliver Daniel telephoned and invited the pair to "produce a group of short compositions for the October concert sponsored by the American Composers Alliance and Broadcast Music, Inc., under the direction of Leopold Stokowski at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. After some hesitation, we agreed. . . . Henry Cowell placed his home and studio in Woodstock, New York, at our disposal. With the borrowed equipment in the back of Ussachevsky's car, we left Bennington for Woodstock and stayed two weeks. . . . In late September, 1952, the travelling laboratory reached Ussachevsky's living room in New York, where we eventually completed the compositions."[26]

Two months later, on October 28, Vladimir Ussachevsky and Otto Luening presented the first Tape Music concert in the United States. The concert included Luening's Fantasy in Space (1952)—"an impressionistic virtuoso piece"[26] using manipulated recordings of flute—and Low Speed (1952), an "exotic composition that took the flute far below its natural range."[26] Both pieces were created at the home of Henry Cowell in Woodstock, NY. After several concerts caused a sensation in New York City, Ussachevsky and Luening were invited onto a live broadcast of NBC's Today Show to do an interview demonstration—the first televised electroacoustic performance. Luening described the event: "I improvised some [flute] sequences for the tape recorder. Ussachevsky then and there put them through electronic transformations."[27]

1954 saw the advent of what would now be considered authentic electric plus acoustic compositions—acoustic instrumentation augmented/accompanied by recordings of manipulated and/or electronically generated sound. Three major works were premiered that year: Varèse's Déserts, for chamber ensemble and tape sounds, and two works by Luening and Ussachevsky: Rhapsodic Variations for the Louisville Symphony and A Poem in Cycles and Bells, both for orchestra and tape. Because he had been working at Schaeffer's studio, the tape part for Varèse's work contains much more concrete sounds than electronic. "A group made up of wind instruments, percussion and piano alternates with mutated sounds of factory noises and ship sirens and motors, coming from two loudspeakers."[28]

Déserts was premiered in Paris in the first stereo broadcast on French Radio. At the German premiere in Hamburg, which was conducted by Bruno Maderna, the tape controls were operated by Karlheinz Stockhausen.[28] The title Déserts, suggested to Varèse not only, "all physical deserts (of sand, sea, snow, of outer space, of empty streets), but also the deserts in the mind of man; not only those stripped aspects of nature that suggest bareness, aloofness, timelessness, but also that remote inner space no telescope can reach, where man is alone, a world of mystery and essential loneliness."[29]

Stochastic music

See main article: Iannis Xenakis. An important new development was the advent of computers for the purpose of composing music, as opposed to manipulating or creating sounds. Iannis Xenakis began what is called "musique stochastique," or "stochastic music," which is a method of composing that employs mathematical probability systems. Different probability algorithms were used to create a piece under a set of parameters. Xenakis used graph paper and a ruler to aid in calculating the velocity trajectories of glissandi for his orchestral composition Metastasis (1953–54), but later turned to the use of computers to compose pieces like ST/4 for string quartet and ST/48 for orchestra (both 1962).

Mid to late 1950s

In 1954, Stockhausen composed his Elektronische Studie II—the first electronic piece to be published as a score.

In 1955, more experimental and electronic studios began to appear. Notable were the creation of the Studio de Fonologia (already mentioned), a studio at the NHK in Tokyo founded by Toshiro Mayuzumi, and the Phillips studio at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which moved to the University of Utrecht as the Institute of Sonology in 1960.

The score for Forbidden Planet, by Louis and Bebe Barron,[30] was entirely composed using custom built electronic circuits in 1956.

The world's first computer to play music was CSIRAC which was designed and built by Trevor Pearcey and Maston Beard. Mathematician Geoff Hill programmed the CSIRAC to play popular musical melodies from the very early 1950s. In 1951 it publicly played the Colonel Bogey March[31] of which no known recordings exist. However, CSIRAC played standard repertoire and was not used to extend musical thinking or composition practice which is current computer music practice. CSIRAC was never recorded, but the music played was accurately reconstructed (reference 12). The oldest known recordings of computer generated music were played by the Ferranti Mark I computer, a commercial version of the Baby Machine from the University of Manchester in the autumn of 1951. The music program was written by Christopher Strachey.

The impact of computers continued in 1956. Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson composed Iliac Suite for string quartet, the first complete work of computer-assisted composition using algorithmic composition. "... Hiller postulated that a computer could be taught the rules of a particular style and then called on to compose accordingly."[32] Later developments included the work of Max Mathews at Bell Laboratories, who developed the influential MUSIC I program. Vocoder technology was also a major development in this early era.

In 1956 Stockhausen composed Gesang der Jünglinge, the first major work of the Cologne studio, based on a text from the Book of Daniel. An important technological development of that year was the invention of the Clavivox synthesizer by Raymond Scott with subassembly by Robert Moog.

The RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer made its debut in 1957. Unlike the earlier Theremin and Ondes Martenot, it was difficult to use, required extensive programming, and could not be played in real time. Sometimes called the first electronic synthesizer, the RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer used vacuum tube oscillators and incorporated the first electronic music sequencer driven by two punched-paper tapes. It was designed by RCA and installed at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center where it remains to this day.

In 1957, MUSIC, one of the first computer programs to play electronic music, was created by Max Mathews at Bell Laboratories.

Later, Milton Babbitt, influenced in his student years by Schoenberg's "revolution in musical thought" began applying serial techniques to electronic music.

From 1950 to 1960 the vocabulary of tape music shifted from the fairly pure experimental works which characterized the classic Paris and Cologne schools to more complex and expressive works which explored a wide range of compositional styles. More and more works began to appear by the mid-1950s which addressed the concept of combining taped sounds with live instruments and voices. There was also a tentative interest, and a few attempts, at incorporating taped electronic sounds into theatrical works.|[33]

The public remained interested in the new sounds being created around the world, as can be deduced by the inclusion of Varèse's Poeme Electronique, which was played over four hundred loudspeakers at the Phillips Pavilion of the 1958 Brussels World Fair. That same year, Mauricio Kagel, an Argentine composer, composed Transición II. The work was realized at the WDR studio in Cologne. Two musicians perform on a piano, one in the traditional manner, the other playing on the strings, frame, and case. Two other performers use tape to unite the presentation of live sounds with the future of prerecorded materials from later on and its past of recordings made earlier in the performance.

The 1960s

These were fertile years for electronic music—not just for academia, but for independent artists as synthesizer technology became more accessible. By this time, a strong community of composers and musicians working with new sounds and instruments was established and growing. 1960 witnessed the composition of Luening's Gargoyles for violin and tape as well as the premiere of Stockhausen's Kontakte for electronic sounds, piano, and percussion. This piece existed in two versions—one for 4-channel tape, and the other for tape with human performers."In Kontakte, Stockhausen abandoned traditional musical form based on linear development and dramatic climax. This new approach, which he termed 'moment form,' resembles the 'cinematic splice' techniques in early twentieth century film."[34]

The first of these synthesizers to appear was the Buchla. Appearing in 1963, it was the product of an effort spearheaded by musique concrète composer Morton Subotnick. In 1962, working with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Subotnick and business partner Ramon Sender hired electrical engineer Don Buchla to build a "black box" for composition.

The theremin had been in use since the 1920s but it attained a degree of popular recognition through its use in science-fiction film soundtrack music in the 1950s (e.g., Bernard Herrmann's classic score for The Day the Earth Stood Still). During the 1960s the theremin made occasional appearances in popular music, most notably on The Beach Boys 1966 "Good Vibrations".

In the UK in this period, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (established in 1958) emerged one of the most productive and widely known electronic music studios in the world, thanks in large measure to their work on the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who. One of the most influential British electronic artists in this period was Workshop staffer Delia Derbyshire, who added a keen musical ear to her great technical prowess; she is famous for her landmark 1963 electronic realisation of the iconic Doctor Who theme, composed by Ron Grainer, arguably the most widely known piece of electronic music in the world. Derbyshire and her colleagues -- including Dick Mills, Brian Hodgson (creator of the TARDIS sound effect), David Cain, John Baker, Paddy Kingsland and Peter Howell -- collectively created a large and very varied body of work that includes station ID stings, program jingles, soundtracks, atmospheres and sound effects for BBC TV and radio stations and programs.

Milton Babbitt composed his first electronic work using the synthesizer—his Composition for Synthesizer—which he created using the RCA synthesizer at CPEMC.

For Babbitt, the RCA synthesizer was a dream come true for three reasons. First, the ability to pinpoint and control every musical element precisely. Second, the time needed to realize his elaborate serial structures were brought within practical reach. Third, the question was no longer "What are the limits of the human performer?" but rather "What are the limits of human hearing?[35]

The collaborations also occurred across oceans and continents. In 1961, Ussachevsky invited Varèse to the Columbia-Princeton Studio (CPEMC). Upon arrival, Varese embarked upon a revision of Déserts. He was assisted by Mario Davidovsky and Bülent Arel.[36]

The intense activity occurring at CPEMC and elsewhere inspired the establishment of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in 1963 by Morton Subotnick, with additional members Pauline Oliveros, Ramon Sender, Terry Riley, and Anthony Martin. The center soon incorporated a voltage-controlled synthesizer based around automated sequencing by Don Buchla, and used in album-length Subotnick pieces such as Silver Apples of the Moon (1967) and The Wild Bull (1968).

Later, the Center moved to Mills College, directed by Pauline Oliveros, where it is today known as the Center for Contemporary Music.[37] [38]

Back across the Atlantic, in Czechoslovakia, 1964, the First Seminar of Electronic Music was held at the Radio Broadcast Station in Plzen. Four government-sanctioned electroacoustic music studios were later established in the 1960s under the auspices of extant radio and television stations.

New instruments continued to develop. One of the most significant breakthroughs came in 1964, when Robert Moog introduced the Moog synthesizer, the first integrated modular voltage controlled analog synthesiser system. Moog Music later introduced a smaller synthesizer with a built-in keyboard and hardwired signal path called The Minimoog, which was introduced to many composers and universities and beacme widely used by popular musicians.

A well-known example of the use of Moog's full-sized Moog Modular synthesizer is the Switched-On Bach album by Wendy Carlos, which triggered a craze for synthesiser music. This decade saw construction of more than 50 electronic music studios in the USA, mostly in universities.

Pietro Grossi was an italian pioneer of computer composition and tape music, who first experimented with electronic techniques in the early sixties. Grossi was a cellist and composer, born in Venice in 1917. He founded the S 2F M (Studio de Fonologia Musicale di Firenze) in 1963 in order to experiment with electronic sound and composition.

Computer music

See main article: Computer music.

See also: Music-N and Algorithmic composition.

CSIRAC, the first computer to play music, did so publicly in August 1951 (reference 12). [39] One of the first large-scale public demonstrations of computer music was a pre-recorded national radio broadcast on the NBC radio network program Monitor on February 10, 1962. In 1961, LaFarr Stuart programmed Iowa State University's CYCLONE computer (a derivative of the Illiac) to play simple, recognizable tunes through an amplified speaker that had been attached to the system originally for administrative and diagnostic purposes. An interview with Mr. Stuart accompanied his computer music.

The late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s also saw the development of large mainframe computer synthesis. Starting in 1957, Max Mathews of Bell Labs developed the MUSIC programs, culminating in MUSIC V, a direct digital synthesis language (Mattis 2001).

Live electronics

See also: electroacoustic improvisation.

In America, live electronics were pioneered in the early 1960s by members of Milton Cohen's Space Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan, including Gordon Mumma and Robert Ashley, by individuals such as David Tudor around 1965, and The Sonic Arts Union, founded in 1966 by Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, and David Behrman. ONCE Festivals, featuring multimedia theater music, were organized by Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma in Ann Arbor between 1958 and 1969. In 1960, John Cage composed Cartridge Music, one of the earliest live-electronic works.

In Europe in 1964, Karlheinz Stockhausen composed Mikrophonie I for tam-tam, hand-held microphones, filters, and potentiometers, and Mixtur for orchestra, four sine-wave generators, and four ring modulators. In 1965 he composed Mikrophonie II for choir, Hammond organ, and ring modulators.

In 1966-67 Reed Ghazala discovered and began to teach "circuit bending"—the application of the creative short circuit, a process of chance short-circuiting, creating experimental electronic instruments, exploring sonic elements mainly of timbre and with less regard to pitch or rhythm, and influenced by John Cage’s aleatoric music concept.[40]

1970s to mid-80s

In 1970, Charles Wuorinen composed Time's Encomium, the first Pulitzer Prize winner for an entirely electronic composition

Affordable synthesisers

See also: Minimoog, Modular synthesizer, Buchla, ARP Instruments, Inc. and Korg. Released in 1970 by Moog Music the Mini-Moog was among the first widely available, portable and relatively affordable synthesizers. It became the most widely used synthesizer in both popular and electronic art music.[41]

IRCAM

See main article: IRCAM. IRCAM in Paris became a major center for computer music research and realization and development of the Sogitec 4X computer system[42], featuring then revolutionary real-time digital signal processing. Pierre Boulez's Répons (1981) for 24 musicians and 6 soloists used the 4X to transform and route soloists to a loudspeaker system.

Rise of popular electronic music

See also: Progressive rock, Berlin School of electronic music, Krautrock, Space rock and Synthpop. Throughout the seventies bands such as The Residents and Can spearheaded an experimental music movement that incorporated electronic sounds. Can were one of the first bands to use tape loops for rhythm sections and The Residents created their own custom built drum machine. The German band Kraftwerk took a more purely electronic approach on records such as 1974's Autobahn_(album). Other artists in the 1970s who composed primarily electronic instrumental music and managed to reach beyond the academic sphere and into the popular realm, were Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Vangelis. Also in the 1970s, rock bands from The Beatles to Genesis_(band) to The Cars began incorporating synthesizers into traditional rock arrangements. Notably, British synthesist Brian Eno collaborated with rock performers such as David Bowie and Roxy Music.

In 1979, UK recording artist Gary Numan helped to bring electronic music into the wider marketplace of pop music with his hit "Cars" from the album The Pleasure Principle. Other successful hit electronic singles in the early 1980s included "Don't You Want Me" by the Human League, "Whip It!" by Devo, and finally 1983's "Blue Monday" by New Order, which became the best-selling 12-inch single of all time. The Swiss duo Yello, Trevor Horn's Art of Noise, Naked Eyes, Prince, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, and Depeche Mode further incorporated early samplers like the Synclavier, Fairlight CMI, and E-mu Emulator into their hit records. By 1984, synthesizers and samplers were prominently featured in much popular music.

Birth of MIDI

See main article: MIDI. In 1980, a group of musicians and music merchants met to standardize an interface by which new instruments could communicate control instructions with other instruments and the prevalent microcomputer. This standard was dubbed MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). A paper was authored by Dave Smith of Sequential Circuits and proposed to the Audio Engineering Society in 1981. Then, in August 1983, the MIDI Specification 1.0 was finalized.

The advent of MIDI technology allows a single keystroke, control wheel motion, pedal movement, or command from a microcomputer to activate every device in the studio remotely and in synchrony, with each device responding according to conditions predetermined by the composer.

MIDI instruments and software made powerful control of sophisticated instruments easily affordable by many studios and individuals. Acoustic sounds became reintegrated into studios via sampling and sampled-ROM-based instruments.

Miller Puckette developed graphic signal-processing software for 4X called Max (after Max Mathews) and later ported it to Macintosh (with Dave Zicarelli extending it for Opcode [43]) for real-time MIDI control, bringing algorithmic composition availability to most composers with modest computer programming background.

Digital synthesis

See also: Digital synthesizer and Sampling (music). In 1979 the Australian Fairlight company released the Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) the first practical polyphonic digital synthesiser/sampler system. In 1983, Yamaha introduced the first stand-alone digital synthesizer, the DX-7. It used frequency modulation synthesis (FM synthesis), first experimented with by John Chowning at Stanford during the late sixties.[44]

Barry Vercoe describes one of his experiences with early computer sounds:

At IRCAM in Paris in 1982, flutist Larry Beauregard had connected his flute to DiGiugno's 4X audio processor, enabling real-time pitch-following. On a Guggenheim at the time, I extended this concept to real-time score-following with automatic synchronized accompaniment, and over the next two years Larry and I gave numerous demonstrations of the computer as a chamber musician, playing Handel flute sonatas, Boulez's Sonatine for flute and piano and by 1984 my own Synapse II for flute and computer—the first piece ever composed expressly for such a setup. A major challenge was finding the right software constructs to support highly sensitive and responsive accompaniment. All of this was pre-MIDI, but the results were impressive even though heavy doses of tempo rubato would continually surprise my Synthetic Performer. In 1985 we solved the tempo rubato problem by incorporating learning from rehearsals (each time you played this way the machine would get better). We were also now tracking violin, since our brilliant, young flautist had contracted a fatal cancer. Moreover, this version used a new standard called MIDI, and here I was ably assisted by former student Miller Puckette, whose initial concepts for this task he later expanded into a program called MAX.[45]

Late 1980s to 90s

Rise of dance music

See main article: Electronic dance music.

See also: Italo disco, Euro disco, New romantic, Electro music, Techno, House music, Acid house and Rave music.

Advancements

In the 1990s, interactive computer-assisted performance started to become possible, with one example described as follows:

Automated Harmonization of Melody in Real Time: An interactive computer system, developed in collaboration with flutist/composer Pedro Eustache, for realtime melodic analysis and harmonic accompaniment. Based on a novel scheme of harmonization devised by Eustache, the software analyzes the tonal melodic function of incoming notes, and instantaneously performs an orchestrated harmonization of the melody. The software was originally designed for performance by Eustache on Yamaha WX7 wind controller, and was used in his composition Tetelestai, premiered in Irvine, California in March 1999.|[46]

Other recent developments included the Tod Machover (MIT and IRCAM) composition Begin Again Again for "hypercello," an interactive system of sensors measuring physical movements of the cellist. Max Mathews developed the "Conductor" program for real-time tempo, dynamic and timbre control of a pre-input electronic score. Morton Subotnick released a multimedia CD-ROM All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis.

The 2000s

In recent years, as computer technology has become more accessible and music software has advanced, interacting with music production technology is now possible using means that bear no relationship to traditional musical performance practices:[47] for instance, laptop performance (laptronica)[48] and live coding.[49]

In the last decade a number of software-based virtual studio environments have emerged, with products such as Propellerhead's Reason and Ableton Live finding popular appeal.[50] Such tools provide viable and cost-effective alternatives to typical hardware-based production studios, and thanks to advances in microprocessor technology, it is now possible to create high quality music using little more than a single laptop computer. Such advances have, for better or for worse, democratized music creation,[51] leading to a massive increase in the amount of home-produced electronic music available to the general public via the internet.

Artists can now also individuate their production practice by creating personalized software synthesizers, effects modules, and various composition environments. Devices that once existed exclusively in the hardware domain can easily have virtual counterparts. Some of the more popular software tools for achieving such ends are commercial releases such as Max/Msp and Reaktor and freeware packages such as Pure Data, SuperCollider, and ChucK.

Circuit bending

See main article: Circuit bending. A practice originally pioneered by Reed Ghazala in the 1960s; it has recently found significant popular appeal. Circuit bending is the creative short-circuiting of low voltage, battery-powered electronic audio devices such as guitar effects, children's toys and small synthesizers to create new musical instruments and sound generators. Emphasizing spontaneity and randomness, the techniques of circuit bending have been commonly associated with noise music, though many more conventional contemporary musicians and musical groups have been known to experiment with "bent" instruments.

See also

References

Further reading

0316741116; New York: Routledge, 1999 ISBN 0-415-92373-5)

External links

Notes and References

  1. "The novelty of making music with electronic instruments has long worn off. The use of electronics to compose, organize, record, mix, color, stretch, randomize, project, perform, and distribute music is now intimately woven into the fabric of modern experience" (Holmes 2002, 1).
  2. "The stuff of electronic music is electrically produced or modified sounds. ... two basic definitions will help put some of the historical discussion in its place: purely electronic music versus electroacoustic music" (Holmes 2002, 6).
  3. "Electroacoustic music uses electronics to modify sounds from the natural world. The entire spectrum of worldly sounds provides the source material for this music. This is the domain of microphones, tape recorders and digital samplers... can be associated with live or recorded music. During live performances, natural sounds are modified in real time using electronics. The source of the sound can be anything from ambient noise to live musicians playing conventional instruments" (Holmes 2002, 8).
  4. "Electronically produced music is part of the mainstream of popular culture. Musical concepts that were once considered radical—the use of environmental sounds, ambient music, turntable music, digital sampling, computer music, the electronic modification of acoustic sounds, and music made from fragments of speech-have now been subsumed by many kinds of popular music. Record store genres including new age, rap, hip-hop, electronica, techno, jazz, and popular song all rely heavily on production values and techniques that originated with classic electronic music" (Holmes 2002, 1). "By the 1990s, electronic music had penetrated every corner of musical life. It extended from ethereal sound-waves played by esoteric experimenters to the thumping syncopation that accompanies every pop record" (Lebrecht 1996, 106).
  5. Rosen 2008
  6. Russcol 1972, 67.
  7. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A520831 Theremin, BBC h2g2 encyclopaedia project, Undated
  8. Busoni 1962, 95.
  9. Busoni 1962, 76–77.
  10. Russcol 1972, 35-36.
  11. Quoted in Russcol 1972, 40.
  12. Russcol 1972, 68.
  13. Composers using the instrument ultimately include Boulez, Honneger, Jolivet, Koechlin, Messiaen, Milhaud, Tremblay, and Varèse. In 1937, Messiaen wrote Fête des belles eaux for 6 ondes Martenot, and wrote solo parts for it in Trois petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine (1943–44) and the Turangalîla Symphonie (1946–48/90).
  14. Russcol 1972, 70.
  15. "Musique Concrete was created in Paris in 1948 from edited collages of everyday noise" (Lebrecht 1996, 107).
  16. Snyder [n.d.] Pierre Schaeffer: Inventor of Musique Concrète.
  17. Eimert 1972, 349.
  18. Eimert 1958, 2; Ungeheuer 1992, 117.
  19. (Lebrecht 1996, 75). "... at Northwest German Radio in Cologne (1953), where the term 'electronic music' was coined to distinguish their pure experiments from musique concrete..." (Lebrecht 1996, 107).
  20. Stockhausen 1978, 73–76, 78–79.
  21. "In 1967, just following the world premiere of Hymnen, Stockhausen said this about the electronic music experience: '... Many listeners have projected that strange new music which they experienced—especially in the realm of electronic music—into extraterrestrial space. Even though they are not familiar with it through human experience, they identify it with the fantastic dream world. Several have commented that my electronic music sounds "like on a different star," or "like in outer space." Many have said that when hearing this music, they have sensations as if flying at an infinitely high speed, and then again, as if immobile in an immense space. Thus, extreme words are employed to describe such experience, which are not "objectively" communicable in the sense of an object description, but rather which exist in the subjective fantasy and which are projected into the extraterrestrial space'" (Holmes 2002, 145).
  22. Johnson 2002, 2.
  23. Johnson 2002, 4
  24. "Carolyn Brown [Earle Brown's wife] was to dance in Cunningham's company, while Brown himself was to participate in Cage's 'Project for Music for Magnetic Tape.'... funded by Paul Williams (dedicatee of the 1953 Williams Mix), who—like Robert Rauschenberg—was a former student of Black Mountain College, which Cage and Cunnigham had first visited in the summer of 1948" (Johnson 2002, 20).
  25. Russcol 1972, 92.
  26. Luening 1968, 48.
  27. Luening 1968, 49.
  28. Kurtz 1992, 75-76.
  29. Anonymous 1972.
  30. "From at least Louis and Bebbe Barron's soundtrack for 'The Forbidden Planet" onwards, electronic music - in particular synthetic timbre - has impersonated alien worlds in film" (Norman 2004, 32).
  31. Doornbusch. Paul. The Music of CSIRAC. Melbourne School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.
  32. Schwartz 1975, 347.
  33. Dunn 1992, 17.
  34. Kurtz 1992, 1.
  35. Schwartz 1975, 124.
  36. Bayly 1982–83, 150.
  37. "A central figure in post-war electronic art music, [Pauline] Oliveros [b. 1930] is one of the original members of the San Francisco Tape Music Center (along with Morton Subotnick, Ramon Sender, Terry Riley, and Anthony Martin), which was the resource on the U.S. west coast for electronic music during the 1960s. The Center later moved to Mills College, where she was its first director, and is now called the Center for Contemporary Music." from CD liner notes, "Accordion & Voice," Pauline Oliveros, Record Label: Important, Catalog number IMPREC140: 793447514024.
  38. Web site: Digital arts and new media grad students collaborate musically across three time zones. Rappaport. Scott. 2007-04-02. UC Santa Cruz Online. A central figure in electronic art music and a pioneer in Internet musical collaboration, Oliveros has written four books and released numerous recordings on the subject..
  39. Doornbusch. Paul. The Music of CSIRAC. Melbourne School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.
  40. Web site: Back to the 8 bit: A Study of Electronic Music Counter-culture. Yabsley. Alex. 2007-02-03. Dot.AY. This element of embracing errors is at the centre of Circuit Bending, it is about creating sounds that are not supposed to happen and not supposed to be heard (Gard, 2004). In terms of musicality, as with electronic art music, it is primarily concerned with timbre and takes little regard of pitch and rhythm in a classical sense. ... . In a similar vein to Cage’s aleatoric music, the art of Bending is dependent on chance, when a person prepares to bend they have no idea of the final outcome..
  41. Web site: A Singer’s Guide to Performing Works for Voice and Electronics, PhD thesis Doctor of Musical Arts. Montanaro. Larisa Katherine. The University of Texas at Austin. May, 2004. In 1969, a portable version of the studio Moog, called the Minimoog, became the most widely used synthesizer in both popular music and electronic art music.
  42. http://knorretje.hku.nl/wiki/Sogitec_4X wikiC/2.06: Sogitec 4X
  43. http://www.atpm.com/6.05/barline.shtml Max at Opcode
  44. Chowning 1973.
  45. Vercoe 2000, xxviii–xxix.
  46. Dobrian 2002, Automated Harmonization of Melody in Real Time
  47. Emmerson 2007, 111–13.
  48. Emmerson 2007, 80-81.
  49. Emmerson 2007, 115; Collins 2003.
  50. http://www.wintermusicconference.com/events/idmas/winners2008.php 23rd Annual International Dance Music Awards:
  51. Chadabe 2004,.