Spiegel plays the Bell Labs Digital Synthesizer, an experimental additive synthesizer designed by Harold G. Alles and Douglas Bayer at Bell Labs in 1977-78. Continue reading
Johns Hopkins University has announced that synthpop pioneer Thomas Dolby is joining their faculty as the first ‘Homewood Professor of the Arts’.
At Johns Hopkins, starting in the fall, he will be teaching ‘Sound on Film’, a collaboration between Homewood’s Film and Media Studies program and Peabody’s Recording Arts and Sciences program. In the programe, students create soundtracks for films.
Dolby will also be the artistic director of the Program in Sound on Film at Station North, helping to lead the university’s efforts in Baltimore’s arts and entertainment district. Continue reading
Morton Subotnick could fairly be called electronic music’s first hitmaker. His 1967 album Silver Apples of the Moon was an international sensation. Or, in his words, “It was like a bombshell.”
Silver Apples was the first piece of electronic music commissioned by a record label and was created on the first synthesizer small enough to sit on a table. Subotnick’s Greenwich Village workspace became a drop-in spot for musicians from The Mothers of Invention to The Grateful Dead to The Velvet Underground. One night, unfamiliar visitors arrived.
“Some [club owners] came in and said, ‘We just bought the name Electric Circus. We don’t know exactly what it is, but we were told if anyone knows, you would know.’ So I gave them a demonstration of an electric circus. They made me the director,” Subotnick says.
This video captures an interview with electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick, before his concert in Parma, Italy on September 29, 2013. Continue reading
Subotnick offers a critique of conventional approaches to electronic music and shares his perspective on the limitations of MIDI. Along the way, the interview features excerpts from Subotnick’s music.
Subotnick blew people’s minds in 1967 with his electronic album Silver Apples of The Moon. Subotnick continues to compose, tour, and work on interactive electronics and multimedia projects. And he’s recently released an iOS music app, Pitch Painter.
How silly it is to have a computer screen—QWERTY keyboard and mouse on one side, MIDI keyboard on the other—and somehow try to have fun.
Fun is extremely important when playing with a synth! Menus and typing and clicking and so on . . . even using a control surface is not ideal when the knobs’ functions change or don’t have logical placement relative to the instrument they’re controlling. It just doesn’t feel or act like a musical instrument.
(Hardware) is fun. It has knobs and switches. And, unlike soft synths, it’ll still work in 10 years. Soft synths have to be ported forever to new operating systems, platforms, and endless versions.
I like designing an instrument once, then moving on, not working on the same thing forever. The Evolver first shipped in 2002; we’re still selling it eight years later, and there’s still nothing that can touch it!