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Music Media

120 Years of Electronic Music 203

Ant writes "This web page has a list of 120 years of electronic music from 1870 to 1990."
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120 Years of Electronic Music

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  • Why 1990? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alexatrit ( 689331 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:05AM (#9673320) Homepage
    Why end at 1990? Did 120 years sound more rounded then 130? Haven't there been several advances made in recording technologies since then? MiniDisc, MP3, widespread adoption of compact discs, SACD. Fourteen years is a long time...
    • Re:Why 1990? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MoonFog ( 586818 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:10AM (#9673350)
      As I suspected, the site is fairly old, click on "Introduction":
      '120 Years Of Electronic Music' is an ongoing project and the site will be updated on a regular basis (currently v3.0 feb 1998).

      Regular basis ..
    • Re:Why 1990? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TehHustler ( 709893 )
      I expect that the jump from 1990 to 2004 will take a considerable amount of writing, when you think of all the technological advances we have had in such a short amount of time. And as someone else has pointed out, it does say "regular basis"
    • Re:Why 1990? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thrash242 ( 697169 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:18AM (#9673395)
      I agree that they shouldn't have stopped at 1990, but what do MiniDiscs, MP3, etc have to do with electonic music? It's about instruments, not ways of storing music electronically. Country music can be stored in MP3s, but it's certainly not electronic music.

      You're right that there have been advances since then, but not about what kind. I think the widespread use of software rather than hardware is the biggest change in the last few years. Modern software synths, samplers and effects now are comparable in sound quality and usually more flexible than their hardware equivalents.
      • Re:Why 1990? (Score:2, Insightful)

        Right. Electronic music is evolving along the same lines as the computer did. It's becoming more and more accessible to the average person to make really complex music tracks at home.
    • Software synths (Score:3, Informative)

      by CausticPuppy ( 82139 )
      Maybe they update the page every 10 years or something. In 2008 they'll have coverage up through 2000 perhaps?

      If they can cover up through 2004, probably one of the most important developments is software-based synthesizers, which either use totally new methods of synthesis (example: Antares Kantos []) or emulate many of the older models on that list.

      So there have been improvements in electronic music and synthesis in recent years, but nowadays everything is so electronic anyway that we don't hear anything
    • You forget. The music industry would like us all to forget the last 14 years...

      Maybe they've got to him to!!
    • 1990: All hell breaks loose.
    • Haven't there been several advances made in recording technologies since then?

      From what I remember of looking at the site before it was Slashdotted, it doesn't cover recording technologies so much as sound generating technologies: the instruments themselves.

      I think the major advance there, incidentally, is acoustic modelling (patented by Stanford University and implemented by Yamaha [], just like FM synthesis [] of the eighties).

    • Not to mention all the cool stuff that came out of the demoscene between 1994 - 2004. =)
  • Its a list of electronic Instruments (according to the Fscking Article). Slow news day?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    would Doctor Who, and bad Sci-fi movies have been without Where one of these [] for the sound effects?
    • The Theremin is hardly obsolete. Moog makes them and it is still being composed for. Led Zepplin, among others, have used them in modern recordings.

      No, it isn't as popular as the guitar, or even the recorder, but then it never was in the first place.

      If you want an example of an "obsolete" instrument that would the violin. The Theremin supercedes it.

    • Is it true that some of the sounds used in the original theme music for Dr Who were made by slowing down a recording of a nail being hammered into a piece of wood?

      My music teacher once mentioned that, but I've never been interested enough until now to know if it was true.

      • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:34AM (#9673474) Homepage
        Possibly, but most of the original "lead" of the theme music was done with a sine oscillator, careful tweaking of the frequency knob, and lots of cutting and shutting on tape.

        The TARDIS sound effect was made by running a key down the bass strings of a gutted piano, and a bit reverb. Lots of BBC Radiophonic Workshop sound effects were made by bashing, bending and otherwise abusing fairly common objects, then speeding up, slowing down, and reversing the sounds on tape. The "laser gun" effects in Blake's 7 were apparently made by gaffa-taping a microphone to an electricity pylon, and bashing one of the other legs of the pylon with a big spanner.

    • IIRC the theremin is the only musical instrument that can be played without the musician actually touching it.

      (ignoring for a moment the bothersome little detail of whether the electrical field surrounding the instrument is part of the instrument itself)
      • are drumsticks/mallets part of a drum? as a side note, there have been about 2000 knock-offs of the basic idea of the theremin, where the instrument is controlled by electric / magnet fields, video, sound, etc. so it's not the only, but it may have been the first.
      • IIRC the theremin is the only musical instrument that can be played without the musician actually touching it.

        The Doepfer A-100 modular synth now has a Theremin style [] CV source, meaning you can use that aerial to control just about anything (a filter's cutoff point, an LFO's speed, and so on). Two of them used to control a VCO's frequency and a VCA's amplitude can recreate a theremin, too.

        Then there's D-Beam technology bought out by Roland a while back, using a different method to achieve a similar e

    • Interestingly, I saw Simon and Garfunkel in concert in Dallas last Thursday. During one of the songs ("Cecilia") they whipped out - you guessed it - a Theremin.

      The big screen over the stage just showed the musician's two hands hovering in the spotlight. All the folks around us in the audience were whispering "What is that?" while my wife and I were quite impressed. (It was one of the band members, not S or G playing it.)
    • would Doctor Who, and bad Sci-fi movies have been without Where one of these for the sound effects?

      Not only that, but what about the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations?" (Think about it. A Theremin is in there.) Here's a really interesting documentary [] on Leon Theremin and his invention.

  • No, (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dysprosia ( 661648 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:06AM (#9673331)
    it's 120 years of electronic musical instruments... For example, Steve Reich's Pendulum Music [] is pretty much electronic music, but doesn't involve an electronic musical instrument.
  • See also... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chrisbolt ( 11273 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:07AM (#9673336) Homepage
    • In the "disclaimer" section of that site:
      This guide is a non-technical, irreverent critique of electronic dance music. Its purpose is to entertain before it inforums. I suppose it could be used as a credited resource or educational primer, but that's not recommended since I made most of it up. Several biases here are celebrated lavishly, because downcasting people for their taste in music is close-minded. Except if their taste in music sucks.
      • a small programming language []

        If you read "Advanced Programming Languages", by Raphael A. Finkel, there already was a language named Io, much more advant garde, if nearly unimplementable and unprogramable.
  • What about NI (Score:5, Informative)

    by slashflood ( 697891 ) <flow&howflow,com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:08AM (#9673341) Homepage Journal

    They list Steinberg, but ignored Native Instruments [], the producer of Reaktor. Very incomplete.
    • Re:What about NI (Score:3, Informative)

      by tulimulta ( 769091 )
      I don't think that NI existed in the 1980s. Do correct me if I'm wrong.

      The beginning of the list was fascinating, but from the 1970s onwards the list has glaring omissions. Where's the ARP synths? Not to talk about the 1980s list. They should remove the last 20 years from the list, since other sites manage that part way better, eg. [].

  • by Kjuib ( 584451 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:09AM (#9673345) Homepage Journal
    or just a link of the day?
  • Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:09AM (#9673347)
    Might make a nice addition to the Wikipedia page on the same topic [], with the author's permission, of course. Dunno why this is on the front page of Slashdot, though...
  • discogs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dreadlord ( 671979 )
    Discogs [] is my favorite source for info on electronic music.
  • Stockhausen? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:13AM (#9673369) Homepage
    120 years of electronic music, and no mention of Karl-Heinz Stockhausen? How could they leave him out?
    • Re:Stockhausen? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iLEZ ( 594245 )
      Seems like they have concentrated on the instruments themselves. I reacted to this myself as i expected to see Kraftwerk mentioned somewhere around 1970.

      On a side note, i am going to a Kraftwerk concert this week. I am very much looking forward to it. =)
      • Perhaps that is the guy I am thinking of. I remember being tought (in an awful music history class) that the first electronic piece was "Hiroshima" around '69. If I remember correctly, it was done by cutting and stretching tape containing sounds/music. Very different from today's concept of electronic music.
        • I think you're thinking of "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima", by Penderecki. Unfortunately, it is not a piece of electronic music, but is actually performed on acoustic intruments by orchestra. I believe it was composed sometime around 1959 or 1960, though I can't remember the exact date. Anyone?

          Early pieces of electronic music (including the musique concrete tape-music to which you refer) were carried out in the late 1940s by various people in europe.

          I can understand why one might think upon l

          • I do recognize that title so I may be mistaken on the piece that I am thinking of. I am fairly certain that there was a piece around that time that was made by stretching and cutting/joining tapes.
  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:13AM (#9673372)
    c-rock: Whatever happened to sex drugs and rock n roll? Now we just have aids crack and techno.
  • Argh! (Score:3, Funny)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:16AM (#9673386) Journal
    So it's the Victorians who are to blame for techno handbag disco music! :-)
  • Theremin! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Random_Goblin ( 781985 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:23AM (#9673417)
    The Theremin Leon Termen Soviet Union 1917

    This looks to be the oldest electronic instrument that is still regarlly used today... of particular note is the artist Goldfrapp [] who plays a theremin in a MOST provocative manner during her live gigs!

    87 years is quite a respectable age. I can't see a date for electric guitar anywhere on the site.

    also just got to love
    Dr Kent's Electronic Music Box Dr Earle Kent USA 1951

    do you think he had an advertising jingle?
  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:59AM (#9673646) Homepage
    Interesting one for me this - I got into keyboards and computers at roughly the same age (about nine), and have been using one to help with the other ever since.

    This mushroomed when I got an Atari ST - still the most influential machine for me. I got it for the games, but also spent time learning C on it and got into Steingberg Pro 12 - I bought the excellent for its time mono monitor, and never looked back.

    Main inspiration for learning electronic music as a kid would be the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Always remembered for their Dr Who work, it's often forgotten that they did an awul lot more than this - the incidental music for the nature series Life On Earth was superb, and it's a track called The Astronauts (Through A Glass Darkly album, Peter Howell) which finally made me decide I wanted to play.

    I've since decided to try learning piano as well as keyboard (very different - left hand work especially), but I'm essentially a keyboard player dabbling with piano, not a pianist dabbling with keyboards.

    So, who else then? Any links to music? I've barely put online anything I did, but there's some really early teenage stuff from me and also a couple of ~1999 tracks available here []. Don't laugh too loudly please...I've written better. Honest.


    • So, who else then? Any links to music?

      Shameless plug: my music [], my synthesizer encyclopedia []. Feel free to download and copy them :)

  • Hmm... could it be because Rock & Roll with a guy on a CASIO is just awkward?

    Ugh, I hated that stuff.
  • What with the one liner? No link, no cheap stab at MS or Linux?
    There should be a minimum lenght for news and comments, otherwise this place will look like a cheap blog... oh wait!
  • Nice overview, but why is the Fender Rhodes missing? It is an icon of its time (1970s).
    • Because the Fender Rhodes used hammers to hit electric wires which were picked up electrically, akin to an electric guitar. That means it's not truly an electronic instrument, as it doesn't generate the musical tones electronically.
  • by cabazorro ( 601004 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @09:35AM (#9673917) Journal
    For the site to be truly complete
    it should provide famous music/musicians that
    made the sound of some of this instruments
    popular. The likes of:
    Jean Michelle Jarre
    Mike Oldfield
    Philip Glass
    and of course
    Tangerine Dream.
  • Modern Electronic music frequently features the 'acid' sound which was originally introduced to the Chicago House scene when some producers dicovered the Roland TB 303 automated bass synthesiser and sequencer. It was a pretty cheap piece of equipment and it never sold well. Most of them ended up discarded or in garage sales..... they only sold 20,000 over the 18 months that it was available. It didn't sound anything like that bass guitar it was supposed to be replacing. However, the pioneering house music
    • OK, the TB-303 was designed to help musicians practice along to, not to be a fully fledged synthesizer. As such it can only make one sound and it's not altogether that good.

      Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice sound, especially when routed through a distortion pedal. Many artists (Norman Cook springs to mind) have done very well using them to add a little something to a mix that is otherwise kind of lacking. But it's just one sound.

      It's nice and all, but extremely overrated, as if it can instantly make

  • You can debunk the research these guys did for their list with about 5 minutes of Googling [].
  • for anyone interested in what a modern band can do with unusual old electronic tech., i suggest listening to Optiganally Yours - Exclusively Talentmaker (2000), a very good album IMHO.. i mean good music, not just a novelty. Rob Crow is the guy from Heavy Vegetable, Thingy, Pinback and Physics, bands which some of you have hopefully heard of! YMMV whether you think this is good of course. As their name suggests, they use the Optigan [], which was mentioned in this article, but also the Chilton Talentmaker an
  • Where's the Sal-Mar Construction, created by Salvatore Martirano in the early 1970's, toured throughout the world in the 70's and 80's, and still seen as one of the most interesting improvisatory electronics instrument ever devised? How about one of the first wave synthesizers by James Beauchamp in the 1960's? The page also seems to include some software systems as instruments (as it should), but leaves out most such systems (CMusic, Music V, CSound, Music 4C, max, kyma, etc.). This is a pretty bad /. po
  • 1. It's an old page - I remember reading it a few years ago.
    2. Around 1990 is when desktop computers were finally strong enough to do basic synthesis and sampling. At that point the writing was on the wall: the age of hardware synthesis was doomed - it would eventually go software, and the results have been impressive. For example: Propellerhead's REASON provides more synthesis power than any reasonable human being could have afforded in 1990. You want 11 samplers in a rack? In 1990, it would have cost $11
  • "This web page has a list of 120 years of electronic music from 1870 to 1990."

    So has Slashdot come to the point where a link in a one sentence description constitutes a submission?

    I see the future submissions:

    This web page [] has news.

    This web page [] has links to news []

    This web page [] has pr0n.
  • Unlikely as it may seem, William Duddell's singing arc has an important place in wireless history. It was based on the carbon arc lamp, invented by Sir Humphrey Davy in the 1840s and which became popular in the 1850s, prior to the invention of the incandescent lamp. The arc lamp employed two carbon rods which, when brought together and then separated, produced a brilliant white light.

    Unfortunately, it also produced a lot of audio noise (hissing, spitting, and whistling), which limited its use to outdoor
  • Er (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kafka_Canada ( 106443 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @09:12PM (#9681912)
    They had electrons in 1870?

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford