Here’s A Vintage Look At Kraftwerk, ‘The Future Of Music’, From 1975

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The BBC shared this vintage look at Kraftwerk from 1975, when they were the future of music.

The short video profiles Kraftwerk, and captures them doing a live performance of Autobahn. Watch closely and you’ll see them using some classic synths, like the Moog Minimoog and ARP Odyssey. But you’ll also see their custom drum controllers in action.

Video Summary:

Derek Cooper reports on Kraftwerk, a German pop group who are pioneers of a new kind of electronic music. Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider, Wolfgang Flür and Klaus Röder create and programme sounds at their Dusseldorf laboratory and recreate them on stage using a variety of synthesisers and bespoke electronic instruments.

Here, they perform an excerpt from their most popular track to date, “Autobahn”.

Originally broadcast 25 September, 1975.

This Is What State Of The Art MIDI Software Looked Like In 1986

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This 1986 segment of BBC’s Micro Live showcases the then state-of-the-art in MIDI software.

At the higher end of the market, Tony Hastings of Steinberg Research demonstrates Pro24 for the Atari ST, while Lesley Judd shows some of the cheaper alternatives available for humble 8-bit systems. The Commodore 64 has a Music Expansion System, while even the Spectrum can be used as the heart of a inexpensive music production system, with the Casio CZ101 synth and Cheetah’s MIDI Interface and MK5 keyboard. Finally, there is the Music 5000 Synthesiser box for the BBC Micro.

This segment, originally broadcast 19 December, 1986, comes from the BBC Archive.

If you worked with any of these systems back in the day, leave a comment and share your experience!

via vargasz

Wendy Carlos Demonstrates The Moog Modular Behind ‘Switched On Bach’

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In this vintage BBC video, electronic music pioneer Wendy Carlos demonstrates the Moog modular synthesizer used in the creation of Switched On Bach.

Switched On Bach, originally released in 1968, did as much as any album to bring electronic music to a mainstream audience. The album topped the Billboard Classical Albums chart from 1969 to 1972 and went on to sell over a million copies. 

In the video, Carlos explains the basics of modular synthesis on the Moog modular synth and demonstrates how Switched On Bach was recorded.

This clip is from BBC’s Music Now, originally broadcast 8 February, 1970.

New Podcast Explores Early Days Of Computer Music

Composers & Computers is a new podcast series, from Princeton’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, that explores the school’s role in the early development of computer music.

In the podcast, host Aaron Nathans interweaves stories about science, art, friendships, and the extensive interdisciplinary links between the computational and musical realms at Princeton. Episodes look at the origins of computer music at Princeton, the role of composers like Milton Babbit and Paul Lansky, music theory and more.

Nathans notes that many composers feel “like there really is no such thing as computer music anymore,” adding, “It’s just music and…a computer is just another tool to make music.”

You can preview the first episode via the embed below, and subscribe to the podcast via Princeton’s site.

Techniques Of Early Electronic Music

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In his latest video, synthesist Hainbach takes a hands-on look at techniques of early electronic music.

Hainbach demonstrates some of these ‘lost’ techniques, using vintage oscillators under hand control, layering sound on tape, tape editing and tape effects and more. Then, in ‘Against The Clock’ fashion, he makes an electronic piece live.

Video Summary:

“I was asked by Goethe Institut Tokyo and Gebrüder Teichmann to do a talk on early electronic music techniques, with a special focus on Stockhausen and the WDR. I had no idea how I could present the results of my research in a fun way until the morning it was due, when a friend asked me to connect the dots of what I was doing. What a better way then to create a piece, like I do on my channel anyway?

Using techniques by Stockhausen and others at the WDR Studio, I assembled a piece with audience help in an “Against The Clock” fashion.

I held this talk at Superbooth22, thanks to everyone at the stage, sound, light and film crew for making this recording.”

The History Of The Korg MiniKorg

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Synthesist Alex Ball has shared another of his synth mini-documentaries, this time taking a look at the history of the MiniKorg , Korg’s first synthesizer.

The Korg MiniKorg is a relatively simple synth, but it sounds great and is full design quirks. How many mono synths have one ring modulator, let alone three, like the MiniKorg?

And the MiniKorg’s industrial design is a reminder of how keyboard synthesizers were experiments for companies in the early 70s, and there was a wide variety in synth designs. The MiniKorg put all the synthesis controls on front edge of the keyboard, instead on the face, above the keys. The designers envisioned that you would put the MiniKorg on top of one of your other keyboards, in which case putting the controls on the front edge makes them easier to see.

Topics covered:

0:00 Background
2:19 The miniKORG 700
5:25 Impact
6:13 Legacy and the 700FS

Share your thoughts on the MiniKorg in the comments!

New Calendar Features Synthesizer Pioneers, Supports Non-Profit Bob Moog Foundation

The Bob Moog Foundation has announced their 2022 calendar, Synthesizer Pioneers, covering 18 months and honoring innovators in the field of synthesis from the past 60 years.

All proceeds from the sale of the calendar support the non-profit organization and its projects, including the Moogseum, the Foundation archive and a ‘STEAM’ project to teach the physics of sound using the tools of electronic music.

The calendar focuses on the historic achievements of synthesizer pioneers from all over the world, including Harry Olsen and Herbert Belar (RCA), Harald Bode, Raymond Scott, Bob Moog, Don Buchla, Peter Zinovieff (EMS), Alan R. Pearlman (ARP), Ikutaro Kakehashi (Roland), Fumio Mieda (KORG), Tom Oberheim, Dave Smith, Roger Linn, Wolfgang Palm (PPG), Dave Rossum, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie (Fairlight), Ray Kurzweil, Felix Visser (Synton), and Makoto Fukuda (Casio).

Many of the pioneers contributed historical photos of themselves with their hallmark inventions. The calendar goes further to trace the history by highlighting scores of historically significant dates within the calendar grid.

Many people featured shared connections with Bob Moog, ranging from inspirations to friends, colleagues and business associates. Secondary photos on many of the pages highlight these connections and show Moog with his fellow pioneers.

“Bob Moog was a dedicated student to the history of synthesis, and he was the first to acknowledge not only the work of those who came before him, but those whose work continued the evolution of synthesis,” notes Michelle Moog-Koussa, Executive Director of the Bob Moog Foundation.

“Carrying that spirit forward, the Bob Moog Foundation is excited to bring the important work of so many synthesizer pioneers from around the world together in one document, where they can be appreciated and considered, as individuals and as a collective. Every month is dedicated to a new trailblazing innovator. We are honored to help represent their stories and connections in this way.”

The calendar is available to pre-order now, with shipping expected to start later in the month.

Note: The Bob Moog Foundation is an independent 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving the legacy of Bob Moog by inspiring others through science, music, and innovation. It is not affiliated with Moog Music, and depends on supporters for its funding.

Berna 3 Turns Your Computer Into A 1950’s Electronic Music Studio

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Berna 3, a virtual studio described as a ‘love letter’ to mid-century electronic music studios, is now available for macOS. A Windows release is scheduled for release later this month.

Here’s what the developer has to say about it:

“Berna is an experience, a world of instruments that transport you to the age of the pioneers of electronic music.

Use 12 Function generators, 6 filters, 8 modulators, plus oscilloscope, four tracks tape recorder, two track tape recorder and four independent tape loops and effects with warm analog sound.

The user of Berna 3 has the opportunity to build their own compositions starting from the instruments and practices that defined electronic music at its origins.”

Pricing and Availability

Berna 3 is available now for macOS for 25.00€. The Windows version is expected later this month.

New Book, Synth Gems 1, From Publisher Of Push Turn Move, Patch & Tweak

Bjooks – publisher of Push Turn Move, Patch & Tweak and Pedal Crush – has announced a new title, Synth Gems 1.

Synth Gems 1 is a beautifully photographed 320-page hardcover art book by Mike Metlay that celebrates vintage synthesizers and the people who created them.

Featuring a foreword by synthesist and songwriter Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Erasure), the book takes readers on a visual voyage through dozens of synthesizers that shaped the last three decades of the 20th Century.

The book opens in 1970 with the story of the Minimoog, including high-quality photos of the prototypes that led to its final design. From there, the reader will encounter historical milestones like the Yamaha GX-1, Korg PS-3300, and Oberheim Matrix-12, and rare and unusual treasures like the RSF Kobol, Gleeman Pentaphonic Clear, and Waldorf Wave – ending in the year 2000 with the Alesis Andromeda.

“I think of the Synth Gems Series as a set of exhibition catalogs, like the ones sold at art galleries that allow visitors to take home the essence of the works on display,” Metlay explains. “In each volume, we provide a guided tour of an incredible synth exhibition — curated from different museums around the world — that could never exist in one location. Readers can walk around these beautiful instruments, examine them in detail via high-quality photos, and learn about how they influenced the world of music.”

Pricing and Availability

Synth Gems 1 will be available through authorized resellers, and at beginning on Oct. 1st in the EU and from Nov. 1st in the US. Pricing is as follows: 450 DKK / $69.95 USD / € 59,95 EUR / $89.95 CAD.

The EKO Computerhythm, A Rare Programmable Space Age Drum Machine

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In his latest video, synthesist Hainbach (Stefan Goetsch) shares a look at another piece of rare Italian electronic music gear from the The Museo Del Synth Marchigiano, the rare EKO Computerhythm.

The EKO Computerhythm features what is essentially a what-you-see-is-what-you-get interface, with 6 rows of 16 pushbuttons, with each row representing a different sound, and each column representing a step of a 16-note pattern.

Here’s what Hainbach has to say about it:

“The Eko Computerhythm from 1972 was so ahead of its time that it found almost more fame as a prop in Italian Sci-Fi movies than as an instrument. In a time when a drum machine was all corny preset rhythms, the Eko featured 16 step programming, time division, mixing, individual outs and a punch card memory. Only 15 are known to exist today and it is frequently rated as one of the rarest and most expensive drum machine.

In this video you will find information on its history, its makers and hear it in all its glory.”

Check out the video and share your thoughts on the EKO Computerhythm in the comments!