Free Music From Walter Carlos & The Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center

Anablog has posted a set of MP3s of some early electronic music from the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.

The tracks include Walter (Wendy) Carlos’ Dialogues for Piano and Two Loudspeakers (1963):

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Liner Notes:

This recording of electronic music presents the works of four authors who come from four different countries with quite varied musical backgrounds. Two of them have considerable knowledge of electronics which stems from a formal engineering training in one case, and from a high degree of practical experience in the other. Diversity of styles is in evidence, as each composer’s style is his own concern. The common experience for these composers has been the use of technical resources at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and the investigation of specialized methods for the evolution and transformation of recorded sound materials, conducted in my course at Columbia and further demonstrated in private sessions by technicians. This work is done in Studio 106, located in McMillin Theatre on the campus of Columbia University in the same room where the older Columbia University Tape Studio was housed. The present studio has been considerably expanded in recent years and has become a part of a complex of three studios and a small laboratory established under a Rockefeller Foundation Grant given to Columbia and Princeton Universities in 1959.

With the notable exception of the very unique possibilities offered by the RCA Sound Synthesizer located in Studio 318, the standard and specialized equipment of the Center is devoted to the production of sound materials by “Classical” methods, common to all electronic music studios. Thus, materials (of either purely electronic or non-electronic origin) recorded on tape, may be subjected to manipulation by tape speed variation, electronic filtering, several types of frequency modulation, artificial reverberation, etc. Tape cutting and splicing by hand still occupies a good deal of time in preparing the sound patterns and arranging them in longer sequences. Techniques are available to create certain types of rhythmic patterns and timbre variations by semi-automatic methods, but the materials thus produced are of limited usefulness. Much time in classroom discussion is devoted to the structural considerations which we believe to be quite challenging and of paramount importance in the electronic music medium, rich as it is in unusual timbres and opportunities for the realization of complex rhythms.

It is hard to imagine that there is much occasion any more for claiming that electronic music is “dehumanized” in its content. Electronic music simply undertakes to express, by different means, human situations, ideas, and emotions.
Vladimir Ussachevsky
Professor of Music
Columbia University

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