History Electronica
Electronica Theory, Instrument & Composition Timeline
from 1700 - 2000


Technological innovators had been working on the concept of creating sound with electronics for more than a century before the musicians & inventions that reinvented music throughout the sixties and seventies could even be conceived. This page on my site will attempt to provide an overview of the earliest inventors and inventions that led to the development of the first synthesizers in 1964. To present a chronicle using text & images of the significant musical and scientific events that led to a revolution in many aspects of music during the twentieth century. All of the information on this page has been gathered from sources found at your public library & on the Internet.

French physicist Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (1736-1806) introduced the concept of electrical charge to the world in 1785 when he published the results of his experiments on the quantitative description of force. English scientist Joseph Priestly(1733-1804), whose research introduced the laws of electrical repulsion, inspired Charles Coulomb’s(1736-1806) research. Technically, Coulomb demonstrated that two like electric charges, either positive or negative, will repel each other; two unlike charges, one positive and one negative, attract each other along a straight line joining their centers. This became known as the Coulomb’s interaction, and a unit of electric charge was named a “coulomb” in his honor.

In 1831, Michael Faraday discovered electric induction when he found that by changing a magnetic field he could induce an electric current in a nearby circuit, thus converting mechanical energy to electrical energy. Within two years the first hand-turned generator, using magnets around coils, was demonstrated in Paris. This was followed by an English model, which used rotating coils revolving in the magnetic field of a fixed magnet. By 1850, electric generators were widely manufactured using permanent magnets, until, in 1866, “self-excited generators” were created by using electromagnets powered by the generator itself.
Understanding the laws of electrical force became the new science of the nineteenth century and had reverberations across all studies, from science to the arts. Europeans contributed the most to the early development of music technology through the application of electricity to electronic technology. Early devices were created which could synthesize sounds by breaking tone down to its component parts and putting it back together by electronic synthesis.

Then in the 1870s, Elisha Gray, an American electrician and engineer was to change everything. Elisha Gray's Musical Telegraph, which evolved out of his experiments with telephone technology was to be the first electrical sound instrument. In February 1876, Gray filed a caveat announcing his intention to patent his invention “for transmitting vocal sounds telegraphically.” Simultaneously, Alexander Graham Bell was also working on a like instrument. Both rushed to patent an instrument designed to function as a basic telephone. After years of litigation, Bell was named the inventor of the telephone, even though Gray’s apparatus as described in his caveat was proved to work, while Bell’s apparatus would not have worked as described in his patent. History will remember Bell as the inventor of the telephone, while Elisha Gray will be remembered for his invention of the first electronic musical instrument.

By the 1920s, basic electronic music technology, such as amplifiers(Lee DeForest in 1907
) and loudspeakers had been invented. Basic circuits for sine wave, square, and sawtooth wave generators had been invented to isolate and define sound. A sine wave was defined as signals made up of pure tones, without overtones. Square waves consisted of component tones in the natural harmonic series of notes. The square shape of each fluctuation of the component tone indicates that voltage or current immediately increases to its maximum or peak value and polarity, and remains there throughout that fluctuation. Then the voltage waveform instantly changes its polarity, or the current waveform reverses its direction. Sawtooth waves were defined as fundamental tones and related overtones produced when a voltage or current increases from zero to its positive peak value at a linear rate, and rapidly changes to its negative peak value. The waveform then decreases back to zero at a linear rate. This technological and conceptual exploration has made every aspect of the creation, recording, reproduction and marketing of music accessible from the home studio. Any individual who is interested in new spheres of musical creativity can contribute to this ongoing wide-open exploration of creative expression.

The German Magnetaphons of the 1930s were the first devices using tape as a medium to record audio, the term reel to reel wasn't used until the sixties to distiguish them from other forms of media such as cartridge and cassette. To the electronic composer the magnetaphon was to be a huge breakthrough, allowing sounds that had to be created over long hours of work could be saved and shared with others. Tape music as it will be called, will become a major genre of music that still used presently.

Dr. Werner Meyer-Eppler, a mathematician, physicist, and director of Phonetics at Bonn University, will become one of the leading chroniclers of electronic music technology.In 1948, Homer Dudley, who had just invented his Vocoder (Voice Operated recorder,) designed for analyzing and synthesizing speech, brought his new invention to show to Meyer-Eppler, who was impressed. He made reference to it in his account on the history of electronic instruments (Elektrische Klangerzeugung.) Dudley was invited to play a recording of Vocoder sounds at a lecture on electronic sound production at North-West German Music Academy. In the audience was Robert Beyer from West-German Radio. Beyer, an inventor and author, was also interested in the use of electronics in music production. He and Meyer-Eppler joined forces and gave a lecture on ' The Sound World of Electronic Music' at Darmstadt. Beyer concentrated on design and manufacturing of electronic equipment, and Meyer-Eppler concentrated on research in speech synthesis. Composer, Herbert Eimert, a devotee of 12-tone music, soon joined them. In 1950, Harald Bode brought along his Melochord. They used it to produce music by layering tracks of tones. In 1951 they presented their results at Darmstadt in a lecture entitled, The Possibilities of Electronic Sound Production. Beyer gave a paper on Music and Technology, and Eimert discussed Music on the Borderline.

In 1952, Harry Olsen and Hebert Belar, both electronic engineers employed at RCA's Princeton Laboratories, invented the RCA synthesizer, also known as the Olson-Belar Synthesizer. Belar and Olsen wanted to produce an instrument that generated music based on a system of random probability. Their efforts were inspired by the controversial 1948 publication, A Mathematical Theory of Music by Joseph Schillinger, who proposed that new forms of commercial music could be created by combining random variations of existing popular music.
 
Serious research begans in 1950 after Lester Hogan invents the filter circuit. In 1953, Robert Beyer, Werner Meyer-Eppler and Herbert Eimert began experimenting with electronically generated sounds. The Cologne studio came into being through the collaboration of several individuals contributing their different skills, technologies and backgrounds. In Italy the Milan Studio was established by Luciano Berio in the early 1950's, where he starts to experiment with some of the electronic circuits of the day in an attempt to create music. Compositions of this type were put together over pains taking hours work with tape splicing and then looping them continuosly. A much larger invention was to change all of this and seriously advance the creation process in electronic music.
 
The RCA synthesizer of 1955 was capable of producing four musical tones simultaneously. Encoded in binary form on a perforated paper roll, made with a special typewriter-like keyboard, were pitches, tone colors, vibrato intensities, envelope shapes, and portamento for each of the four tones. The perforations specified the sounds' properties for every 1/30 second, which enabled the composer to produce musical changes faster and more precisely than traditional musicians could play. Two RCA synthesizers were built; the second, the MK II, was installed at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York City in 1959. Twelve vacuum tube oscillators provided the sound source in the Mark I, while the larger Mark II incorporated twenty-four. Mixdown of the tracks from the instrument was monitored on a pair of speakers, while they were copied onto an internal lacquer disk cutter. This process created six concentric grooves, with a total running time of three minutes per groove. The grooves were then combined, and recorded onto a separate lacquer disk. By a means of recycling and bouncing the existing tracks back and forth, the disk was capable of creating up to 216 tracks.

In 1957, Max Mathews, of Bell Laboratories directed research into developing analysis and synthesis of sound using computers. Dr. Mathews is known as the “Father of Computer Music”. His team conducted behavioral and acoustic research. His collaborative research community developed the first software-based computer synthesis programs. His work in speech synthesis led him to realize that it should be easier for a computer to make music than the human voice.
 
In the 1960s, Don Buchla, Paul Ketoff, Robert Moog and Peter Zinovieff constructed the first generation of practical synthesizers. In 1966, Moog files for patent application for his unique low-pass filter. The US patent #3,475,623, was issued in October 1969. With this patent, the commercial synthesizer was born.

From the mid 1960's, the first generation of commercially available synthesizers were based on analog technology using moving controls, like buttons, sliders or bars to control simple analog modules such as amplifiers, filters, and oscillators to generate sounds. During the 1970's the first digital synthesizers and samplers were developed. These instruments could be connected to each other, to computers, effects and processing units, recording consoles, etc. The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) was developed in 1983 to send information about pitch, timbre, velocity, and so on. MIDI is now present in all personal computers. The most common sound source for modern synthesizers are samples, i.e. digital recordings of real sounds from acoustic and electric instruments, or from analog synthesizers. Different techniques are combined to produce various hybrids of tone generation.
 
A vital part of these instruments is the sequencer, a component that records and plays back a series of notes and events in a particular order.  Composer/musician/inventor, Raymond Scott is credited with inventing the first sequencer back in the early 1950’s. It was an electro-mechanical instrument comprised of stepping replays controlled by hundreds of switches, tone circuits, solenoids used to time the events, and 16 oscillators. He named this construction, “The Wall of Sound”. It measured six feet high and thirty feet long. Today, a sequencer of much greater complexity could fit in the palm of your hand.

The sequencer gained international recognition when groups like Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream began recording and touring with them in the early 1970s. The first generation of sequencers used analog technology, inspired by the same principles used in creating tape loops. An analog sequencer is capable of producing short loops or patterns of melodies or rhythms, usually not more than 12-16 steps or notes in length. These notes, or patterns, repeat in an endless cycle until the machine is reset. This technology became indispensable for many musical applications, particularly for live performance situations. In a live application, the sequencer was used to create polyrhythms and fluctuations in tempo by patching a sequence of control voltages into its own internal voltage controlled clock.

References to Instruments & Musical Compositions

Origins

Experiments with electricity to create musical sound begin as early as 1759 when the French Jesuit priest Jean Baptiste Delaborde of Paris created an electrical harpsichord called the 'Clavecin Électrique' which was striclty speaking an 'electo-mechanical' instument, the device used a keyboard to control vibrating tuned strips to produce sounds. Experimental instruments incorporating solenoids, motors, and other electromechanical elements continued to be invented throughout the 19th century such as William Duddell's 'singing arc'. The German physicist, mathematician and author of the seminal work "Sensations Of Tone: Psychological Basis for Theory of Music" (c1860) Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (1821-1894)was the first physicist to undertake an analystical study of sound. Helmholtz created an electronically controlled device to analyse combinations of tones the "Helmholtz Resonator", using electromagnetically vibrating metal tines and glass or metal resonating spheres the machine could be used for analysing the constituent tones that create complex natural sounds. Helmholtz was concerned solely with the scientific analysis of sound and had no interest in direct musical applications. The theoretical musical ideas were provided by Ferruccio Busoni, the Italian composer and pianists who's influential essay "Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music" was inspired by accounts of Thaddeus Cahill's 'Telharmonium'.

1700

'Clavecin Électrique'  Jean Baptiste Delaborde France 1759
 
1870-1915: Early Experiments

The first electronic instruments built from 1870 to 1915 used a variety of techniques to generate sound: the tone wheel (used in the Telharmonium and the Chorelcello)- a rotating metal disk in a magnetic field causing variations in an electrical signal, an electronic spark causing direct fluctuations in the air (used uniquely in William Duddell's "Singing Arc' in 1899) and Elisha Grey's self vibrating electromagnetic circuit in the 'Electronic Telegraph', a spin-off from telephone technology. The tone wheel was to survive until the 1950's in the Hammond Organ but the experiments with self oscillating circuits and electric arcs were discontinued with the development of vacuum tube technology.

1800

The Electro-mechanical Piano  Msr Hipps Switzerland 1867
The Musical Telegraph  Elisha Grey  USA  1876
Alexander Graham Bell - Telephone 1877
Thomas Edison - Phonograph 1878 

The Singing Arc  William Duddel  UK 1899 
The Telharmonium  Thaddeus Cahill  USA  1897 


 
1915-1960: The Vacuum Tube Era

The engineer and prolific US inventor Lee De Forest patented the first Vacuum tube or triode in 1906, a refinement of John A. Fleming's electronic valve. The Vacuum tube's main use was in radio technology but De Forest discovered that it was possible to produce audible sounds from the tubes by a process known as heterodyning. twentieth century by radio engineers experimenting with radio vacuum tubes. Heterodyning effect is created by two high radio frequency sound waves of similar but varying frequency combining and creating a lower audible frequency, equal to the difference between the two radio frequencies (approximately 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz). De Forest was one amongst several engineers to realise the musical potential of the heterodyning effect and in 1915 created a musical instrument, the "Audion Piano" . Other instruments to first exploit the vacuum tube were the 'Theremin' (1917) 'Ondes Martenot' (1928), the 'Sphäraphon' (1921) the 'Pianorad' (1926). The Vacuum tube was to remain the primary type of audio synthesis until the invention of the integrated circuit in the 1960's.

1900
 

The Choralcelo  Melvin Severy  USA  1909
Marinetti - Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism 1909
Pratella - The Technical Manifesto of Futurist Music 1911
The "Intonarumori"  Luigi Russolo  Italy  1913 
Lee De Forest - The Audion Piano USA  1915
Lee DeForest -Oscillator  1915

The Optophonic Piano Vladimir Rossiné  Soviet Union  1916 
The Theremin  Leon Termen  Soviet Union  1917


 

1920

Lev Sergeyvich Termen (Leo Theremin) - The Theremin 1920 
The Sphäraphon  Jörg Mager  Germany  1921 
The Staccatone  Hugo Gernsbak  Germany  1923 
KurbelSphäraphon  Jörg Mager Germany  1923 
The Pianorad  Hugo Gernsbak  Germany  1926 
The Dynaphone  René Bertrand  France  1927 
The Celluphone  Pierre Toulon & Krugg Bass  France 1927
The Clavier à Lampes  A.Givelet & E.Coupleaux  France 1927
The Klaviatursphäraphon or Sphaerophon  Jörg Mager Germany 1928
The Ondes-Martenot  Maurice Martenot  France  1928 
The Superpiano  E. Spielmann  Austria 1928
Piano Radio-Électrique  A.Givelet & E.Coupleaux  France  1929
The Givelet  A.Givelet & E.Coupleaux  France  1929
The Sonorous Cross  Nikolay Obukhov  France  1929
The Hellertion  B.Helberger & P.Lertes  Germany  1929
Hammond - Electronic Organ 1929
     Givelet and Coupleux - Synthesizer 1929
 

1930
 
The Trautonium  Dr Freidrich Trautwein  Germany  1930 
The Ondium Péchadre  H. Péchadre  France  1930 
The Rhythmicon  Henry Cowell & Leon Termen  USA  1930 
The Terpsitone Leon Termen  USA/USSR 1930
The Theremin Cello Leon Termen  USA  1930 
The Westinghouse Organ R.C.Hitchock  USA  1930 
The Sonar  N.Anan'yev  Soviet Union  c1930
Schillinger - Electricity, a Musical Liberator 1931 

Saraga-Generator  Wolja Saraga  Germany  1931 
The "Ekvodin"  V.A.Gurov  Soviet Union  1931 
The Trillion Tone Organ  A. Lesti & F. Sammis.  USA  1931 
The Variophone  Yevgeny Sholpo  Soviet Union  1932 
The Emiriton  A.Ivanov & A.Rimsky-Korsakov  Soviet Union  1932 
The Emicon  N.Langer  USA  1932 
The Rangertone Organ  Richard H.Ranger  USA  1932 
L'Orgue des Ondes  Armand Givelet  France  1933 
The Electrochord  Oskar Vierling Germany  1933 
Syntronic Organ  I.Eremeef & L.Stokowski  USA  1934 
The Polytone Organ  A. Lesti & F. Sammis  USA 1934 
The Hammond Organ  Laurens Hammond  USA  1935 
The Photona Ivan Eremeef and L. Stokowski  USA  1935 
The sonothèque  L. Lavalée  France  1936 
The Heliophon  Bruno Hellberger  Germany  1936 
The Grösstonorgel  Oskar Vierling  Germany  1936 
The Welte Licht-Ton-Orgel  E.Welte  Germany  1936 
The Singing Keyboard  F. Sammis  USA  1936 
The Warbo Formant Orgel Harald Bode & C. Warnke  Germany  1937 
The Melodium  Harald Bode Germany  1937
John Cage - Silence 1939

The Kaleidophon  Jörg Mager  Germany  1939 
The Novachord  L Hammond & C.N.Williams USA  1939
 

1940

The Voder & Vocoder  Homer Dudley  USA  1940 
The Univox  Univox Co.  UK  1940 
The Multimonica  Harald Bode  Germany  1940 
The Pianophon  - - 1940 
The Ondioline  Georges Jenny  France  1940 
The Solovox  Hammond Organs Company USA 1940 
The Electronic Sackbut  Hugh Le Caine  Canada  1945 
The Tuttivox  Harald Bode  USA  1946 
Hanert Electric Orchestra  J. Hanert  USA  1945 
The Minshall Organ  - USA 1947 
The Clavioline  M. Constant Martin  France  1947 
The Melochord  Harald Bode  Germany  1947 
The Monochord  Dr Freidrich Trautwein  Germany  1948 
The Free Music Machine  Percy Grainger & Burnett Cross  USA/Australia  1948
 

1950

The Electronium Pi  René Seybold  Germany  1950 
The Polychord Organ  Harald Bode  USA  1950 
Dr Kent's Electronic Music Box Dr Earle Kent  USA  1951 
The Clavivox  Raymond Scott  USA  1952 
The RCA Synthesiser I & II  Harry Olsen & Hebert Belar  USA  1952
Pierre Henry - Voile d'Orphée 1953 

The Composertron Osmond Kendall  Canada  1953 
The Chombichord  Harald Bode/ Constant Martin  France  1953 
The Chombichord  Harald Bode/ Constant Martin  France  1953
Edgard Varèse - Déserts 1954
Hugh LeCaine - Dripsody 1955 

Spatiodynamique and Cybern?tique Tower  Nicolas Sch?ffer France  1955
Louis & Bebe Barron - Forbidden Planet soundtrack USA 1956
György Ligeti - Glissandi 1957 

The ANS Synthesiser Eugeniy Murzin Soviet Union 1958
Oramics  Daphne Oram  UK 1959 
The Siemens Synthesiser  H.Klein & W.Schaaf  Germany  1959 
The Side Man  Wurlitzer  USA  1959
Dr. Rainer Böhm, founder of the German kit home organs Germany 1959


Harald Bode

Harald Bode, born October 19, 1909, was a German engineer and pioneer in the development of electronic music instruments. Bode worked as a researcher in signal processing and on the development of electronic music instruments at the Heinrich Institute for Oscillation Research at the Technical University of Berlin. In 1954, Bode developed the Melochord (later used by Karlheinz Stockhausen and others) in co-operation with the Studio for Electronic Music of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (West German Broadcasting Corporation) and used the new device in musical performances. In 1961, Bode wrote a paper exploring the advantages of newly emerging transistor technology over older vacuum tube devices; his ideas were adopted by Robert Moog, Donald Buchla, and others. Bode developes theory, circuits and devices to the sound production and sound configuration. Bode will Develope and build a number of monophonic and polyphonic electronic organs and sound molders towards the developement of the commercial synthesizer.


 

1960-1970: Integrated Circuits

Integrated Circuits came into widespread used in instrument development during the early 1960's inspired by the writings of the German instrument designer Harald Bode. Robert Moog, Donald Buchla and others will create a new generation of easy to use, reliable modular electronic instruments.

Dr. Robert Arthur Moog, rhymes with "vogue", lived between May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005. Dr. Moog was an American pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.

A fantastic book that covers these early days of development is      
 
Analog Days by Pinch & Trocco.
 
1960

Milan Electronic Music Studio  director: Luciano Berio  Italy  1960
Vladimir Ussachevsky - Wireless Fantasy 1960
Harald Bode developes a modular signal processor w/ ring modular and using voltage 1961 


In 1961, the IBM 7094 became the first computer to sing, singing the song Daisy Bell. Vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and the accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews.


"Daisy Bell" was the last utterings of HAL in Kubrick's 2001

DIMI & Helsinki Electronic Music Studio  Erkki Kurenniemi Finland  1961
Moog Synthesisers  Robert Moog  USA  1963 
The Mellotron & Chamberlin  Leslie Bradley  UK 1963 
Buchla Synthesisers  Donald Buchla  USA  1963

Don Buchla (April 18th, 1937— ) is a pioneer in the field of sound synthesizers, releasing his first units months after Robert Moog's first synthesizers. However, his instrument was arguably designed before Moog's. Buchla was also quick to integrate his electronic instrument creations into performances produced by Morton Subotnick and the San Francisco Tape Music Center & Ken Kesey's Trips Festivals. His electronic designs benefitted from these experiences.

The Donca-Matic DA-20 Keio Corp  Japan  1963 

The Synket  Paul Ketoff  UK 1963
Robert Moog - VCO and VCA 1964

it is worth mentioning Paul Ketoff, who was an electronic instrument developer in Rome, created a synthesizer instrument know as synket in 1964.

Tonus/ARP Synthesisers - Philip Dodds  USA  1964

Philip Dodds "The Man from Arp" - Phil Dodds, was an audio engineer who appeared in the 1977 motion picture Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Working for ARP Instruments, Dodds was on the set to install and manage the ARP 2500 synthesizer. He worked on other films, such as Logan's Run, and Star Trek.

phil dodds
 
Steven Spielberg, offered him a part in the movie on the spot; he spent the next nine weeks filming the now-iconic final scenes of the movie. He has considerable screen time for an extra, playing the notes on the synthesizer under the direction of several scientists and musicians, and gazing raptly up at the alien spaceship. In the film's credits, Dodds's name appears twice — once as "Jean Claude" (as Philip Dodds) and once as "ARP Musician" (as Phil Dodds), though we don't know which said his one line: "What are we saying to each other?". Later, Philip will work as the vice president of R&D for Kurzweil Music. A fun fact seeing as I love sci-fi as much as synthesizers.


Ilhan Mimaroglu - Bowery Bum 1964
     Pauline Oliveros - Bye Bye Butterfly 1964
Robert Moog - Voltage Controlled Filter 1965


The first known electronic DJ mixers date back to 1965

Rudolph Thomas Bozak (1910-1982), born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania was an audio electronics and acoustics designer and engineer in the field of sound reproduction. Bozak is often remembered today for his advanced designs of DJ mixers in the 1960s which allowed the development of the concept of disc jockey mixing and 'discotheques'.
Rudy Bozak's CMA-6-1 and CMA-10-1, 6 and 10-input monaural units of the mid 1960s, the peak of development was reached with the stereo Bozak CMA-10-2DL; a unit that was very quickly accepted as the standard of its day. The Bozak CMA mixers were expensive: they used high-grade Allen-Bradley components, hand-selected transistors, and of modular construction.

Francis Grasso (March 25, 1949 - March 20, 2001) was an American soul music disc jockey from New York City. In 1968, at the New York Club Sanctuary — a former German Baptist church (featured in the movie Klute) — Grasso starts beat matching records.

trips festival 1966



Moog Synthesizers become comercially available 1966
PAiA Electronics, Inc  John Paia Simonton  USA  1967

Important moment in the History of Electronic Music

Jon Weiss, "the Man from Moog,” arrives in London with the Rolling Stones’ Moog synthesizer
summer 1968 - September 1968


MUSYS Software  David Cockrell & Peter Grogno  UK 1968
John Lennon / Yoko Ono - Revolution 9 1968
     Salvatore Martirano - L's. G. A. 1968
     Arne Nordheim - Solitaire 1968
     Vladimir Ussachevsky - Computer Piece No. 1 1968

Performance is a 1968-70 British crime drama film directed by Donald Cammell
features Moog Synthesizer compositions by Mick Jagger in the film.

Jon Weiss and Jagger came up with the idea of using the synthesizer as a prop in Performance:
“The Moog with its rows of knobs and dials would make a perfect addition”

the patch that the man from Moog, Jon Weiss, had set up for Mick on the synthesizer used in Performance was used to create the soundtrack for Kenneth Anger’s short film Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), which featured a soundtrack by Mick Jagger.

The synthesizer from this point forward will be part of pop culture.

August 15–18, 1969 : Moog / Arp at Woodstock?

If the Arp was at Woodstock, it was with Edgar winter who at the time played both drums and keyboards in his brother Johnny winter's band.

Edgar Winter explained the epic genesis of Frankenstein:
“The original riff for Frankenstein came when I was playing with Johnny Winter.
As a matter of fact, we played it at Woodstock, as a jam"

"I had written this riff basically thinking (how) I wanted an instrumental
that I could use as a showcase."


"Basically, there were Moogs and ARPs back then. And the Moog was a built-in unit with the keyboards being a part of the control unit itself. But the ARP-2600 had a separate keyboard, a remote keyboard that was attached to the brain or the guts of the instrument with an umbilical-type cable. I looked at the keyboard and I said, ‘Wow, that looks pretty light. It looks like you could put a strap on that thing like a guitar.’ That’s exactly what I proceeded to do. The rest, as they say, is history. The recorded version of Frankenstein won't be released until 1973."

If a Moog was at Woodstock, it wasn't until the last day of the festival.
I have heard a tale that hallucinating hippies were scared out of the fields
by what they thought were the sounds of spaceships landing.

EMS VCS3 - 1969


Dr. Peter Zinovieff is a British inventor of Russian ethnicity. He is most noted for his EMS company, which made the famous VCS3 synthesiser in the late '60s. The synthesiser was used by many early progressive rock bands such as Pink Floyd, White Noise, Kraftwerk and David Bowie. The EMS influence was significant and can be traced into many contemporary products. The EMS company broke up in 1979.



Delia Derbyshire - Love Without Sound (1969)
EMS Synthesisers  Peter Zinovieff & David Cockrell  UK 1969
Mario Davidovsky - Synchronisms No. 5 1969 

Technics corporation will invent the direct drive turntable SP-10 in 1969

1970-1980:The commercial synthesizer

Arp, Buchla, EMS, Moog, Oberheim, Roland, & Yamaha all releasing various models & types of synthesizer. A high amount of hybrid developement of synthesizers in that industry synthesizers released contain both modular and digital types of features.




appreciation for the modular component


Historically speaking, analog oscillators(VCO) were notorious for being difficult to get in tune and stay in tune. Having the proper equipment, talent & patients to calibrate VCOs, well, at that time, was a very unique talent. Back in the day if your modular was going out of tune, calibrating a VCO was very different than say tuning a guitar or a piano, and had to be done by trained electrician from the Moog company. Even today if your VCO is in need of calibration, this procedure still should be done by the manufacturer of the module.

One of the huge problems of the original Moog modulars that made them go out of tune or drift as it's called, making modulars difficult or reliably for live performances was heat. Whenever you are using a modular synthesizer, you have a knob that is used to adjust frequency, which is basically the tuning of the VCO. You need this to give control over beating and other things that modular synths are good at. The problem with the old synths is that they drifted as they warmed up.  Sometimes a whole semitone or more, and even more so while you were playing them. The reason tune drifting was a problem on old modular synthesizers was the exponential converters, integrator caps and integrator reset switches inside the core of the oscillators that were temperature sensitive. Other issues, such as the control voltage loads aginst the VCO and power supply systems used on the vintage modular synths also added to this problem.

In an attempt to resolve this drifting problem, Dr. Moog created a product called the scale programmer. The first Moog 950B Scale Programmer was built in 1969. This was a case full of knobs, one knob for each key on the keyboard to tune each one. A real-time device for musicians to stabilize the notes within a range during a live performance. This device was used in many of the long moog recording sessions. Here is a picture of the Moog 950B SCALE PROGRAMMER. Designed to be connected to the Moog 950 Keyboard Controller. The 950B bypasses the 950's equal-tempered interval control, thus allowing for the individual tuning of each note on the keyboard. The 950B consists of sixty independent manual controls, each of which varies the magnitude of an interval between two successive voltage levels on the 950. Tuning was continuously variable from 0 to 2 semitones.


moog3Ctuner

1970

Harold Bode becomes chief engineer of the Moog synthesizer company.
Moog - mini-moog modular systems
ARP 2500
Aries 300 modular synthesizers
Buchla 200 series modular
GROOVE System  Max Mathews  USA  1970
EML Electrocomp 400 - 1970 
The Optigan  Mattel Inc.  USA  1970 
The Electronium-Scott  Raymond Scott  USA  1970
Donald Buchla - Buchla 200 1970 
Donald Buchla - Buchla 500 1971 

Con Brio Synthesisers  - USA  1971 
Allen Digital Computer Organ  Ralph Deutsch/Allen Organ Company USA  1971
Donald Buchla - The Music Easel 1972 

Roland Synthesisers  Roland Corporation  Japan  1972
Technics starts manufacturing it's model SL1200, with a pitch control & tangential arm in 1972

Jon Weiss' "Man from Moog'" Synthesizer lives on...

As is well known, Mick Jagger did not take up the synthesizer—but, according to Pinch and Trocco, the Moog synthesizer originally purchased by the Stones lived on:

It was sold on to the Hansa by the Wall recording studio in Berlin, where in 1973 Christoph Franke of Tangerine Dream purchased it for $15,000. The Moog sequencer became the defining element of Tangerine Dream’s sound, and the Moog became an enduring influence on the many waves of German electronic music in the 1970s. This influence eventually provided renewed stimulus in the United States when Donna Summer’s I Feel Love (1977), produced by Giorgio Moroder in a Munich studio with the aid of a modular Moog, along with Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express (1977), were taken up in black dance culture.

If the Performance modular synth was indeed sold to Christoph Franke of Tangerine Dream in 1973, then the first album made by that group on which that particular Moog appeared was Phaedra, recorded late in 1973 and released early in 1974, an album that is now considered an essential album of electronic music, and a breakthrough in the use of synthesizer/sequencer technology.

Edgar Winter’s Frankenstein - 1973 

Maplin Synthesisers  Trevor G Marshall  Australia/USA  1973
NED - Synclavier - first digital synth 1973

In 1973, Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc, widely regarded as the "father of hip-hop culture," performed at block parties in his Bronx neighborhood and developed a technique of mixing back and forth between two identical records to extend the rhythmic instrumental segment, or break. Turntablism, the art of using turntables not only to play music but to manipulate sound and create original music was created.

Harald Bode retires from Moog in 1974
Roland - SH3a - commercial additive synth 1974
RMI - Harmonic Synthesizer - commercial additive synth 1974  
The Synclavier  New England Digital Corporation  USA  1975 
Korg Synthesisers  Korg  Japan  1975
hip-hop DJ Theodore invents record scratching technique by accident 1975

EVI wind instrument  Nyle Steiner  USA  1975
PPG Synthesisers  Wolfgang Palm  Germany  1975
Yamaha - CS80 1976
PPG 1003 sonic carrier - 1st programmable mono/duo synth 1976 
Yamaha Synthesisers  Yamaha Corp  Japan  1976 
Oberheim - OB1 - 1st commercial programmable mono synth 1977
British company Citronic produces the first crossfader, model SMP101, in 1977

Oberheim Synthesisers  Thomas Oberheim  USA  1978
Donald Buchla - Touché 1978
EDP Wasp  Chris Hugget  UK  1978
PPG - Wavecomputer 360 - (Wavetable synthesis) 1978 
Sequential Circuits - microprocessor controlled Prophet10 & P5 1978   
Serge Synthesisers  - - 1979 
The Fairlight CMI  Peter Vogel & Kim Ryrie  Australia  1979 
Sequential Circuits - Dave Smith - USA 1979
NED - Synclavier - First FM 1979
Fairlight CMI - First Sampler Workstation 1979


TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) is one of the most famous and influential modular synthesizers in the world.

TONTO’s Expanding Head Band, a performance group, made up of Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, was an influential electronic music duo from the 1970’s. They only released a few albums, but these recordings, along with their collaborations with musicians such as Stevie Wonder, helped make synths a standard element of modern popular music.

TONTO was a huge multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer, designed and constructed by Malcolm Cecil. It featured Moog modules, but also modules from other manufacturers and some of Cecil’s own design.

Stevie Wonder played TONTO on 4 classic albums recorded at Electric Ladyland in the early 70's: Music on My Mind, Talking Book, Fulfillingness' First Finale, & Innervisions. From the documentary, "Soul Deep".

Synthesizers.com as well as other manufacturers of modular synthesizer systems have many such options to accomidate the musicians needdirection and wants in analog synthesizer design. The synthesizers.com "Moogish" module  products are a great place for any musician to get into the world of analog synthesis. They have available analog modules for a direct approach to both synthesizer & sequencer schemes.

modulars01


1980 Digital

The next and current generation of electronic instruments were the digital synthesisers of the 1980s.
These synthesisers were software controlled offering complex control over various forms of synthesis
previously only available on extremely expensive studio synthesisers.
Early models of this generation included the Yamaha, Roland, Oberheim, e-mu & Korg.


1980

Simmons Drum Synthesisers  Simmons  UK  1980
Herbert Brün - i toLD You so! 1981

Casio Synthesisers  Casio Ltd  Japan  1981 
The McLeyvier David McLey  USA  1981 
Kawai Synthesiser  Kawai Musical Instrument Co  Japan  -
E-mu Systems - The Emulator USA 1981
Donald Buchla - Buchla 400 1982

MIDI (introduced) 1983
Sequential Circuits - Prophet600 / First Midi Synthesizer 1982
Kurzweil Synthesisers/Samplers  Raymond Kurzweill  USA/Korea  1983 
Oxford Synthesiser Company  Chris Hugget  UK 1983
Jesse Saunders produces what is considered the first house music track, "On & On." 1983


Disco-influenced electronic style of dance music called house music emerged in Chicago. The name was derived from the Warehouse Club in Chicago, where resident DJ Frankie Knuckles mixed old disco classics and Eurosynth pop. NYC disco DJ Larry Levan, known for his eclectic mixes, gains a cult following, at the Paradise Garage Club, creates the New York Garage Style of House. 1983-1985

Yamaha - DX7 - Digital & FM synthesis 1983
OSC - OSCar - real-time w/ analog filters 1983
Frank Zappa - The Girl in the Magnesium Dress 1984
Akai Musical Instruments  Akai Corporation  Japan  1984

Sequential Circuits - SixTrak - first multitimbral 1984
Alesis Corporation Keith Barr USA 1984

Techno music emerges from the Detroit club scene. Detroit, Being geographically located between Chicago and New York, DJs start combing elements of Chicago house and New York garage along with European imports. Techno distanced itself from disco's roots by becoming almost purely electronic with synthesized beats. 1985

Frank Zappa - Porn Wars 1985 

Ensoniq Synthesisers & Samplers  - USA  1985 
Sequential Circuits Prophet VS (Vector Synthesis) - 1985
Casio - CZ101 - First battery-powered all digital mini-synth 1985
Frank Zappa - The Beltway Bandits 1986 

Steinberg Software  Steinberg  Germany  - 
GEM Synthesisers  - - -
Crumar Synthesisers  - - -
Harold Bode dies in New York, 1987
Donald Buchla - Buchla 700 1987
     Carla Scaletti - sunSurgeAutomata 1987
Iannis Xenakis - Taurhiphanie 1988
Emu Systems - Proteus - First dedicated ROMpler 1989



The Evolution of Computer Music Systems

1990

Florida EDM Tribute
Donald Buchla - Thunder 1990
     Drew Krause - Bark 1990
     John Melby - Concerto for Flute and Synthesized Sounds 1990
     John Oswald - Spectre 1990
Waldorf Microwave (WaveTable Synthesis) Germany 1990

Yamaha SY22 (Vector Synthesis) 1990
Korg Wavestation (Vector Synthesis) 1991
Donald Buchla - Lightning  1991
Scott Wyatt - Counterpoints 1992
Cindy McTee - Études 4 Alto Saxophone & Computer-Generated Tape 1992
John Miles - Last of the Barkeaters 1993

     Christopher Weise - Witness 1993
Yamaha - VL1 - first physical modelling synth 1994
Clavia - Nord Lead - 1st Virtual Analog (VA) 1995
MOTM (Module of the Month) -
Paul Schreiber - 1995
Rubberduck - first softsynth 1996.
Donald Buchla - Lightning II 1996
     Donnacha Dennehy - Metropolis Mutabilis 1996
     Sever Tipei - Curses 1996
     Andrew Walters - Moth to Flame 1996  

Steinberg - VST 1996
Aphex Twin - Bucephalus Bouncing Ball 1997
Seer Systems - Reality - First Modular Soft Synth 1997

buchla 200e

YEAR 2000


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