theremin_collage

Read the article Bob Moog wrote when he met Leon Theremin

It’s hard to imagine what the evolution of the synthesizer would have been without Leon Theremin. For one, it was Theremin’s invention that first captivated Robert Moog. Theremin kits were Dr. Moog’s first product and many would say, his first electronic instrumental love. That impact was significant, too, on a whole generation – actually, even my own father made building a kit Theremin one of his early experiences with electronics. The fall of the Soviet Union still has ripples felt in the electronic music world today. And surely there’s no more poignant moment in the intertwining of post-Cold War history …

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eyewitnessnews

Watch a 1986 TV story on house music, plus too many documentaries

In our last episode of “watching things on the Internet instead of doing real work,” we were enjoying a full-length 90s electronic music documentary and a bunch of music videos. Well, here we are at yet another weekend. And hopefully we can give you some video watching pleasure yet again, in those moments when you aren’t, well, hopefully, making music. Leading the pack is a 1986 story from Chicago TV news back when house music was in its early days, as spotted by Dancing Astronauts. And it’s an astounding document, featuring Danny “Sweet-D” Wilson, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, Steve “Silk” Hurley, …

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modulations

Watch a full-length electronic documentary from the 90s, and more free videos

America’s on-again, off-again love affair with electronic music – often, with idioms it helped create – is endlessly full of unexpected twists and turns. But all this bears examining. For some, it’s a journey back to the music that first inspired them. For others, it’s a chance to learn, perhaps, how where music has been might help lead to where it’s going. It’s a chance not just to repeat electronic music past, but go beyond it. And if you’re looking for something to entertain you this weekend, you could do worse than Modulations, a documentary from 1998. Back then, it …

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light_show_0

Watch the Clavilux, an ethereal light organ from 100 years ago

Long before trippy visualizers and computer animation, before liquid light shows or laser parties, Thomas Wilfred was building organs for visuals. He called the art they produced Lumia, and the instrument Clavilux – a keyboard for light. That first instrument was built all the way back in 1919. But unlike a lot of the spectacles of the era, this one is still hypnotic today, even after all the advances of cinema and computing. Drawing on a tradition that included displays of fire and fireworks, and the ability to place sound “at the command of a skilled player at a piano,” …

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pierreschaeffer_grm

If you use samples, then wish Pierre Schaeffer a happy birthday

It’s French composer Pierre Schaeffer’s birthday, and if you’re using any form of sampling, it’s worth pausing to remember him. At 105 years of age, he’s more relevant than ever. Listen, to his Cinq études de bruits : Étude aux chemins de fer. Amazingly, this 1948 piece (made when my Mom was born) sounds like it’d still be a good listen on SoundCloud today (thanks, Yuri Spitsyn):

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robert_hood

Techno innovator Robert Hood tears up as he recalls younger self

It’s easy to look at music’s superstars, the people on pedestals – regardless of genre – and see them as something beyond human. Yet the reality for most musicians, the lifeblood of what making music is, is people who are vulnerable. It’s wrapped up in the human experience. The thing is, we don’t always get to see famous artists go off-script, especially when getting personal. But that’s what happens in a moving interview with Robert Hood at RBMA Tokyo last year, posted yesterday to their Twitter feed. Robert Hood has been a seminal figure in techno across several decades, still …

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IDOW Gear 6 (Eurorack)

I Dream of Wires Doc Gets Premiere; Here are Pics and Facts

The modular synthesizer, that wild animal covered in wires, has seen its once-endangered populations flourish and its revival in full swing. And now, it has its own movie. Some years now in anticipation, and with limited screenings here and there at film festivals, I Dream of Wires gets a wide release. The film is surely a landmark, but the launch is likely to be, too, bringing one of the modular synth’s greatest composers (Morton Subotnick) back to Berlin, Germany for a gala release performance, joined by video artist Lillevan. Mr. Subotnick is a rare figure, having made an impact not …

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clapping

Free Clapping Music App Teaches You Steve Reich – And Rhythm

Before there was Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there was Steve Reich’s 1972 Clapping Music. And like all etudes, it’s a game. Now an iPhone app makes it an actual game.

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elektron

Only One of These Czech Analog Synth Drum Machine Organs Exists

Before Elektron – you know, the Swedish drum machine company – there was Elektron. The Elektron-83 is the creation of Jožka Říhák, legendary in Moravia as a genius electronic instrument builder. His Syntezátor – 83 Unisono went into production, but the ELEKTRON – 83 is one of a kind. We got a live performance and demo/explanation of the creation at Brno’s Synth Fest hosted by Bastl Instruments and their new Noise Kitchen shop in the Czech Republic. And this thing is simply amazing.

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mills

Jeff Mills Strips Bare Electronic Technique, Wants to Liberate DJs

Exhibitionist2TrailerFR from AxisRecords on Vimeo. For all the multi-camera Boiler Room rigs and debates over how vinyl records make music more visible than on a laptop, there’s an elephant in the room. Most electronic music fans don’t have any clue what’s going on. And even if you do, most of the technique behind the records is invisible – doubly so when the prevalence of DJing emphasizes mixing over musical improvisation. So, Jeff Mills’ “Exhibitionist 2” project – a film and performance series following up on the video/music release of a decade ago – seems both compelling and aptly named. It …

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