Moogfest in 2011: bands space aliens can enjoy. Photo courtesy Moogfest.

Moogfest Lineup Busting at the Seams; Hear a Massive Playlist of Artists [Spotify]

Okay, perhaps Moogfest has a built-in advantage in its theme. Affection for Moog among synth aficionados is akin to affection for chocolate or unicorns – perhaps not universal, but darned widespread and passionate. But looking at the lineup for Moogfest, it’s apparent how the name of just one early pioneer of electronic musical instruments can resonate across genres. The festival, which once began as a humble gathering of a few names in music, continues to expand its roster of artists as the weekend of October 26-27 approaches in Asheville, North Carolina. And while electronic music fans might balk at the …

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Doctor Who: Coldcut Remix and Celebrating the BBC

Ah, the BBC. Their world news sounds like an apocalyptic rave and their inexplicably long-running, trippy strange “children’s” sci-fi show has one of the greatest pieces of synthesized music ever. I’m running out of ways to say Delia Derbyshire is one of the most brilliant composers ever to use electricity, so let’s just get straight on to the bit where Coldcut show up and hold a big musical party for the Beeb Radiophonic Workshop and do their own kickass remix of Who’s opening titles and sounds. (Making the classic Doctor Who video feedback seem psychedelic? Not really a challenge. And …

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Tristram Cary, Tape Music Pioneer, VCS3 Designer, Composer, Dies

It’s been a rough week for electronic music — having lost Bebe Barron, we’ve now lost one of the other great early pioneers of electronic music, South Australian Tristram Cary. Tristram is credited by some as the father of tape music, originating tape music techniques in World War II. He’s notorious to the general public and sci fi fans as the composer of the music for the Daleks in Doctor Who (along with other music) — like an evil counterpart to Delia Derbyshire, who built the studio Cary would later use. But he was also a pivotal composer of music …

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Making of the Doctor Who Theme, Ca. 1980

Via Chip Collection comes a charming documentary on the production of the 1980 remake of the classic Doctor Who TV theme, by BBC composer Peter Howell. You have to enjoy seeing the Yamaha CS-80 and ARP Odyssey in action. It’s also striking to me how accessible these keyboards made their synth parameters, in contrast to the vast majority of modern synths — either hardware or software. You could really just dial up sounds. (Getting it perfect on multi-track tape, though, took 5 1/2 weeks, though they amusingly have Mr. Howell mime playing along with the polished end take.) Giving all …

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Audio Post Conforming on Doctor Who: Make Those Screams Fit

Sound editing can be an unenviable job: against some sometimes absurdly tight deadlines, you have to work with complex, extensive changes to the film or TV show. Virtual Katy is a piece of software that integrates with Final Cut and Avid video editing and handles conforming — basically, taking all those changes and making everything fit. It’s not a wildly expensive piece of software, ranging from US$400 to $1000. But it’s surprisingly elegant, at least from my layperson’s point of view. If you’ve ever been curious how these things work, check out the short quick start tutorial. VK is used …

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Doctor Who Theme, Remixed and Roasted

Difficult as it may be for Americans to 'get', the Doctor Who theme is one of the most significant electronic music pieces of all time and a cultural icon to the Brits. So, why not mess with it? whomix is a site entirely devoted to remixing the theme The composer for the new show says he thinks the bridge sounds just like Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas"? (Um, far be it from me to split hairs, Murray, but wouldn't that be Band Aid sounds like Doctor Who, not the other way round?) Bill Bailey has an infamous (and …

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Doctor Who Theme: Behind the Scenes, Hear the Themes

Behind the scenes: Before the Moog analog synth allowed patching together music with knobs and telephone switchboard cables, Delia Derbyshire (shown) and assistant Dick Mills started with a simple score by Ron Grainer and pieced together one of the most recognizable TV tunes of all time using individual sound modules, razor blades, an enormous amount of work, and a lot of imagination. (Read the detailed history by Mark Ayres, who composed for the show and produced a CD re-release; here are some of my favorite highlights — read more)

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