Discovering Electronic Music

This is an educational film from 1983 describing a little bit of the history and tools of electronic music. The best thing about it is that it is behind the times for 1983, and seems more like a 1970s film. Frequently featured is a Moog modular! Also featured is a Fairlight, but as an analog obsessive, I’m less interested in that.

This reminds me of the old Encyclopedia Britannica films we watched back in high school. Despite being quite vintage, the content of the film is still relevant today.

James Tenney Remembered 1934-2006

I just learned this morning that my CalArts Professor, James Tenney, passed away in August of this year.

I remember the first day of class with him. James mentioned that when people asked what kind of music he wrote, he would sometimes respond with, “I write unpopular music.” I have since used that line many times myself.

One of my favorite works of his is For Ann (rising), a process music composition featuring an endless rising glissando. This glissando is similar to Jean-Claude Risset’s. In my opinion, Tenney’s is more musically interesting, and the illusion of the glissando is much more transparent.

James is also one of the performers in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte, which is featured on Ohm: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music.

James, you will be missed.

Know Your Roots: OHM+


:the early gurus of electronic music

“Electronic music represents freedom from conventional music forms: it liberates the production of sound. I was very interested in electronic music from its philosophical point of view. It is music that takes chances: it’s adventurous, it doesn’t sit still. And that’s something that should be applied to culture at large.” – Iara Lee

Ohm: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music is a sensational sonic history, grounded in mold-breaking experimentation. With virtually no rules to follow, or previous works to emulate, these composers were given a new freedom unlike anything else before. Naysayers would call this compilation a lot of things, but not music. For the open minded, this three disc +dvd set is an opportunity for exploring a world of sound you may have not experienced before.

Know Your Roots: Reed Ghazala

I would be in a state of sin if I didn’t mention early-on the internationally recognized “father of circuit-bending,” Reed Ghazala.

Ghazala’s website,, is a haven for the odd and strange in the electronic arts. Besides Circuit-Bending, Ghazala has also involved himself with the visual arts. My favorite is his work with polaroids. Be sure to read up on the man himself.

If you are interested in giving circuit-bending a try, then the first thing you should read is Ghazala’s 19 page primer. This is more than enough (but not too much) information to get anyone started. If you want to dive even further into his world, Ghazala has written a book, Circuit-Bending: Build Your Own Alien Instruments. I’ve already ordered my copy.

Part of Get Bent