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Fourteen Masterpieces

of Electronic Music
Kevin Heis

History of Electroacoustic Music

Professor Jeffrey Stolet

December 27, 2009


Abstract

This paper will review fourteen masterpieces of electronic music. Essential information will

be provided such as composer biographical information, form and conceptual ideas, associated

institutes, technological achievements, recording and electronic processing details, and

developments in other media. The pieces were selected for quality, representation of eras,

influence, and diversity of stylistic association.


Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 3

Table of Contents

Introduction 4
The 1950s 5
Symphonie pour un homme seul by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry 5
Gesang der Jünglinge by Karlheinz Stockhausen 7
Poème électronique by Edgard Varèse 10
The 1960s 12
Orient-Occident by Iannis Xenakis 13
Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles 15
Silver Apples of the Moon by Morton Subotnick 17
The 1970s 18
Synchronism #6 by Mario Davidovsky 19
Figure in a Clearing by David Behrman 21
Music for Airports by Brian Eno 23
The 1980s 25
Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco by Jonathan Harvey 26
The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five 29
Répons by Pierre Boulez 31
The 1990s and 2000s 34
Ambiant Otaku by Tetsu Inoue 34
It Only Needs To Be Seen by Kyong Mee Choi 36
Conclusion 38
Recommended 39
Sources 40
Introduction

Electronic music is defined as music produced with electronic equipment. This definition

means any music that is not performed live is electronic music, and most of the music

performed live today is also electronic music. Given the broadness of the definition, this paper

will redefine the term for more focus: electronic music is music with conceptual underpinnings

which are deeply interwoven with electronic equipment, and could not be produced or

replicated otherwise.

Textbook histories of electronic music often detail composers' lives, institutions, and

technological advances, and focus on academic electronic music exclusively. What seems to be

greatly lacking is an understanding of the piece as the ultimate goal, the ultimate statement and

reward of electronic music. Perhaps this is because electronic music cannot be analyzed in the

same methodology other music uses and the goal of textbook authors to provide a

comprehensive and authoritative electronic music history.

Under the more focused definition, the goal of this paper is to review the history of

electronic music through its masterpieces. While the composers' lives up to the point of the

composition and related technology and institutes will be discussed, the piece will take the

stage in this paper. When relevant, as a multimedia devotee, I will discuss work in other media.

Rather than attempt a thorough history in approximately forty pages, this paper will look at

specific lenses over time.

The pieces were selected first for quality; even if a piece is historically important, the

piece must meet certain qualitative criteria. Secondly, the pieces were selected for diversity:

over time, by stylistic association, and by influence. There is no possibility of comprehensively

reviewing the history of electronic music and its advances through fourteen pieces, but the
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 5

selection seeks solid representation through unique, important, and influential works of the

upmost artistic value. I claim no true objectivity in selection.

The 1950s

The two most influential studios from the 1950s and from the beginning of electronic

music as an art form were Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète de Radiodiffusion-

Télévision Française in Paris, France and Studio für Elektronische Musik des Westdeutschen

Rundfunk in Cologne, Germany. This paper begins with the musique concrete masterwork,

Symphonie pour un homme seul, from the Paris studio. While many important compositions that

precede it, it is the first successful work of electronic music. The second piece is from the

Cologne studio; and the third again from the Paris studio. Important developments in electronic

music were brewing all over the world, but none match the influence of these works from this

era.

Symphonie pour un homme seul by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry

Symphonie pour un homme seul, or Symphony for One Man Alone in English, is an

musique concrete piece, or tape piece, by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry. The first

performance of the piece was on March 18, 1950 in the Auditorium of the Ecole Normale de

Musique in Paris, France.1 The last revision of the work was in 1966, with a length of 21:40

minutes.2 As the first piece of electronic music that uses a developed syntax, it is also the first

successful composition of electronic music.

The work was developed at the Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète de

Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française, founded in 1949 by Schaeffer, preceded by Club d'Essai

1 Art and Popular Culture. "Musique concrète." www.artandpopularculture.com/Musique_concrète.


2 Cross, Lowell. "Electronic Music, 1948-1953." Perspectives of New Music 7, no. 1 (1968): 44.
which began in 1935. Part of an early radio station, it was the first electronic music studio.3

Later, this studio drew in Stockhausen, Varese, Boulez, Xenakis, and Messiaen.4 Schaeffer began

his experimentation at RTF in 1936,5 and Henry joined the studio in 1949, who unlike Schaeffer,

could read sheet music. 6 With Henry, the studio's pieces "became longer and more ambitious."7

Schaeffer was concurrently working on A la Recherche d'une Musique Concrete, a

document for the syntax of musique concrete, which was finalized in 1952.8 The studio is known

for its deviations from other modern music of the time. Serialism, a technique of content

ordering, was rejected because, for electronic music, the repetition was overbearing and the

composers at GRMC/RTF had more success focusing on the source material.9 Composers

emphasized the "isolation of the sound event."10 This freed composers from the restraints of the

Schoenberg school as well as tonal theory.11 The idea behind musique concrete is:

extra-musical sounds could be treated musically by determining for them a


familial or scalar ordering, yet allowing them to retain the essence of their
noise like properties. 12

Schaeffer and Henry were influenced by previous works of modern composers, but in

many ways in reverse. The primary idea of Symphonie pour un homme seul is exploration of the

3 Palombini, Carlos. "Pierre Schaeffer, 1953: Towards an Experimental Music." Music & Letters 74, no. 4 (1993): 542.
4 Palombini, Carlos. "Pierre Schaeffer, 1953: Towards an Experimental Music." Music & Letters 74, no. 4 (1993): 542.
5 Discogs. "Pierre Schaeffer." http://www.discogs.com/artist/Pierre+Schaeffer.
6 Xenakis, Iannis, Roberta Brown, and John Rahn. "Xenakis on Xenakis." Perspectives of New Music 25, no. 1/2
(1987): 16-63.
7 Cross, Lowell. "Electronic Music, 1948-1953." Perspectives of New Music 7, no. 1 (1968): 44.
8 Palombini, Carlos. "Pierre Schaeffer, 1953: Towards an Experimental Music." Music & Letters 74, no. 4 (1993): 549.
9 Palombini, Carlos. "Pierre Schaeffer, 1953: Towards an Experimental Music." Music & Letters 74, no. 4 (1993): 547-8.
10 Cross, Lowell. "Electronic Music, 1948-1953." Perspectives of New Music 7, no. 1 (1968): 41.
11 Stuckenschmidt, H. H. "Contemporary Techniques in Music." The Musical Quarterly 49, no. 1 (1963): 13.
12 Cross, Lowell. "Electronic Music, 1948-1953." Perspectives of New Music 7, no. 1 (1968): 41.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 7

sound object, "sounds that could be produced by man."13 These sounds included piano, human

voices speaking and singing, drums, band and orchestra recordings, mallets, and other foley.

Symphonie pour un homme seul is divided into twelve movements, which are approximate to

classical structures.14 Given the non-restrictive ideas behind the work, the piece was listed in

Golea's early catalog of electronic music as "expressive concrete music."15

With the assistance of audio engineer Jacques Poullin, the composers created the work

using radio broadcasting equipment and magnetic tape. 16 The large variety of processing

techniques includes transposition, reverse, time stretching, layering, artificial reverberation,

looping, and sampling. The performance of the work required "several sets of turntables,

loudspeakers, and mixing units."17

Maurice Bejart choreographed Symphonie pour un homme seul in 1955.18

Gesang der Jünglinge by Karlheinz Stockhausen

Gesang der Jünglinge is a tape piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen. It debuted at Cologne's

West German Radio in its largest auditorium on May 30th, 1956. 19 Stockhausen developed Gesang

der Jünglinge at the Studio für Elektronische Musik des Westdeutschen Rundfunk in Cologne,

13 Manning, Peter. Electronic and Computer Music. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 24.
14 Manning, Peter. Electronic and Computer Music. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 24.
15 Palombini, Carlos. "Pierre Schaeffer, 1953: Towards an Experimental Music." Music & Letters 74, no. 4 (1993): 543.
16 Cross, Lowell. "Electronic Music, 1948-1953." Perspectives of New Music 7, no. 1 (1968): 41.
17 Manning, Peter. Electronic and Computer Music. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. 24.
18 EMF Media. "PIERRE SCHAEFFER." http://www.emfmedia.org/artists/schaeffer.html.
19
Smalley, John. "Gesang der Jünglinge: History and Analysis." Columbia University. http://music.columbia.edu/
masterpieces/notes/stockhausen/GesangHistoryandAnalysis.pdf. 2000.
Germany.20 It is 13:40 minutes long, and the title translates to Sound of the Youths (in the Fiery

Furnace). Gesang der Jünglinge is the best known and most influential work of electronic music.

Karlheinz Stockhausen, unique for an early electronic music composer, had worked both at

the Paris and Cologne studios. He began in Paris, where he made Studie I and Studie II,21 and

left Paris for Cologne in 1952.22 His reason for leaving, among other factors, was to study

phonetics at the University of Bonn with professor Werner Meyer-Eppler.23

Gesang der Jünglinge is one of the few pieces of early tape music associated with both

elektronische Musik and musique concrete.24 Stockhausen was a student and participant of

serialism,25 which is more associated with elektronische Musik. However, he wanted to go

beyond the practices of the Cologne studio, to lose the rigidity of serialism and give his work a

greater sense of familiarity26 as well as to use serialism similar to how Bach used counterpoint.27

20
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
21
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
22Decroupet, Pascal, Elena Ungeheuer, and Jerome Kohl. "Through the Sensory Looking-Glass: The Aesthetic and
Serial Foundations of Gesang der Jünglinge." Perspectives of New Music 36, no. 1 (1998): 97-142.
23Peters, Gunter, and Mark Schrieber. "".How Creation Is Composed": Spirituality in the Music of Karlheinz
Stockhausen."Perspectives of New Music 37, no. 1 (1999): 97-131.
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM / modernity
11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
Smalley, John. "Gesang der Jünglinge: History and Analysis." Columbia University. http://music.columbia.edu/
masterpieces/notes/stockhausen/GesangHistoryandAnalysis.pdf. 2000.
24
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
25Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
Decroupet, Pascal, Elena Ungeheuer, and Jerome Kohl. "Through the Sensory Looking-Glass: The Aesthetic and Serial
Foundations of Gesang der Jünglinge." Perspectives of New Music 36, no. 1 (1998): 97-142.
26
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
27
Smalley, John. "Gesang der Jünglinge: History and Analysis." Columbia University. http://music.columbia.edu/
masterpieces/notes/stockhausen/GesangHistoryandAnalysis.pdf. 2000.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 9

Stockhausen once described the three aims of his works as: absolute freedom, newness, and a

balance of religion and reason.28

The narrative behind the work is:

from a Biblical story in The Book of Daniel where Nebuchadnezzar throws


Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into a fiery furnace but miraculously they
are unharmed and begin to sing praises to God.29

A strong theme of purity and vilification ties the segments of the work together.30 The

piece is divided into six sections, notably lacking a seventh concluding section. Each section is

unique in its "treatment of voice." Section A is introductory, B is swarms of voices, C emphasizes

words, D marks the use of chords, section E makes use of polyphony, and section F represents

summation.31

The source material for the work is a twelve-year-old boy, both singing and speaking in a

normal voice.32 The boy was Josef Protschka, who was given sine tones to sing back along with

sacred text in German.33 The piece also uses sine tones in an additive way, white noise, and

impulses.34 Stockhausen wanted to develop as piece as a prayer "free [...] from the traces of

28Peters, Gunter, and Mark Schrieber. "".How Creation Is Composed": Spirituality in the Music of Karlheinz
Stockhausen."Perspectives of New Music 37, no. 1 (1999): 97-131.
29
Stone, Kurt. "Review: Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge (1955/56) by Karlheinz Stockhausen." The
Musical Quarterly 49, no. 4 (1963): 552.
30
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
31
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
32
Stone, Kurt. "Review: Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge (1955/56) by Karlheinz Stockhausen." The
Musical Quarterly 49, no. 4 (1963): 552.
33
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
34Decroupet, Pascal, Elena Ungeheuer, and Jerome Kohl. "Through the Sensory Looking-Glass: The Aesthetic and
Serial Foundations of Gesang der Jünglinge." Perspectives of New Music 36, no. 1 (1998): 97-142.
archaic fear of the gods" in the Roman Catholic church.35 The work makes use of the Fibonacci

series.36

Stockhausen used the phonetics of the text serially, within the realms of intelligibility,

speech versus singing, echo, distance, spatial position, and pitch.37 He made the synthesized

tones sound like the phonetics of the boy's voice.38 Stockhausen analyzed and reconstructed the

voice using the recent developed vocoder, which aided in fragmentation of speech.39 The final

version of the piece is in five channel sound, which was mixed down to four for the original

performance.40

This piece, as the most influential work of electronic music, will be mentioned repeatedly

in this paper.

Poème électronique by Edgard Varèse

Poème électronique, or Electronic Poem in English, is a three channel41 tape piece by

Edgard Varèse. It premiered at the Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair from April 17

to October 19, 1958; and it was developed in Paris, France. It is intended as part of a

35Smalley, John. "Gesang der Jünglinge: History and Analysis." Columbia University. http://music.columbia.edu/
masterpieces/notes/stockhausen/GesangHistoryandAnalysis.pdf. 2000.
Peters, Gunter, and Mark Schrieber. "".How Creation Is Composed": Spirituality in the Music of Karlheinz
Stockhausen."Perspectives of New Music 37, no. 1 (1999): 97-131.
36Decroupet, Pascal, Elena Ungeheuer, and Jerome Kohl. "Through the Sensory Looking-Glass: The Aesthetic and
Serial Foundations of Gesang der Jünglinge." Perspectives of New Music 36, no. 1 (1998): 97-142.
37
Stone, Kurt. "Review: Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge (1955/56) by Karlheinz Stockhausen." The
Musical Quarterly 49, no. 4 (1963): 552.
38
Stone, Kurt. "Review: Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge (1955/56) by Karlheinz Stockhausen." The
Musical Quarterly 49, no. 4 (1963): 553.
39
Metzer, David. "The Paths from and to Abstraction in Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge." MODERNISM /
modernity 11, no. 4 (2004): 695-721.
40
Stone, Kurt. "Review: Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge (1955/56) by Karlheinz Stockhausen." The
Musical Quarterly 49, no. 4 (1963): 554.
41Lombardo, Vincenzo, Andrea Valle, John Fitch, Kees Tazelaar and others. "A Virtual-Reality Reconstruction of
Poème Électronique Based on Philological Research." Computer Music Journal 33, no. 2 (2009)
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 11

multimedia, musique concrete installation piece. Poème électronique is "the first electroacoustic

work in the history of music to be structurally integrated in an audiovisual context."42 Recently,

it has been recreated in a virtual reality environment.43

Varèse at the time of composing Poème électronique was heavily experienced with music

technology, with more than five decades of composition experience, four decades of experience

with electronics, and had composed major electronic works Ionisation, Espace, and Deserts.44 He

developed the piece at Schaeffer's GMRC/RTF near the end of his life.45 Varèse is known for the

prominence of timbre and rhythm in his work, and, like his musique concrete colleagues,

opposed devotion to any major structural technique.46 The composer was influenced by

Renaissance music.47 He is also known for his emphasis on vertical over horizontal

composition.48

Poème électronique was part of a multimedia installation, with lighting design and image

projections made by futurist architect Le Corbusier,49 and the film was made up of black-and-

white still photography.50 Both Iannis Xenakis, the designer of the Philips Pavilion, and Varèse

42Lombardo, Vincenzo, Andrea Valle, John Fitch, Kees Tazelaar and others. "A Virtual-Reality Reconstruction of
Poème Électronique Based on Philological Research." Computer Music Journal 33, no. 2 (2009)
43Lombardo, Vincenzo, Andrea Valle, John Fitch, Kees Tazelaar and others. "A Virtual-Reality Reconstruction of
Poème Électronique Based on Philological Research." Computer Music Journal 33, no. 2 (2009)
44 "Edgar Varese Biography." http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Varese_Edgar.html
45 1883-1965
46 Wen-Chung, Chou. "Varèse: A Sketch of the Man and His Music." The Musical Quarterly 52, no. 2 (1966): 151-170.
47 "Edgar Varese Biography." http://www.biographybase.com/biography/Varese_Edgar.html
48Bayly, Richard, Edgar Varese, and Louise Ussachevsky. "Ussachevsky on Varèse: An Interview April 24, 1979 at
Goucher College." Perspectives of New Music 21, no. 1/2 (1982): 145-151.
49
Media Art Net. "Le Corbusier; Iannis Xenakis; Edgard Varèse «Poème électronique: Philips Pavilion»." http://
www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/poeme-electronique/.
50Lombardo, Vincenzo, Andrea Valle, John Fitch, Kees Tazelaar and others. "A Virtual-Reality Reconstruction of
Poème Électronique Based on Philological Research." Computer Music Journal 33, no. 2 (2009)
were interested in parabolas and hyperbolas across various media: architecture for Xenakis and

painting for Varèse.51 In the Philips Pavilion, the sound moved around the space over 425

loudspeakers, designated in 11 groups.52

The plan of the pavilion was conceived as a "stomach": visitors would enter
through a curved corridor, stand in a central chamber for the eight-minute
presentation, and exit out the other side.53

Structurally, the piece is in binary form with multiple subdivisions or thematic groups,

such as similar timbre or rhythms. The musical source material includes bells, wood blocks,

sirens, drums, singing, machine noises, animals, and organ. Listening to the recording, the

processing techniques immediately evident are splicing, looping, reverse, alterations to playback

speed, and movement of sound material in space.

The 1960s

A common theme in the history of electronic music: as the cost of electronic equipment

goes down and the availability and accessibility of equipment improves, the diversity of

electronic music increases. It is no clearer at any point of history than the 1960s. The first piece

is again from the Paris musique concrete studio, although with a twist. The latter two pieces

demonstrate the spread of artistic electronic equipment usage in music production. The second

piece represents the growth and acceptance of electronic music in the mainstream rock scene,

and the third represents the beginnings of computer music.

51Sikiaridi, Elizabeth. "The Architectures of Iannis Xenakis." Journal of Speculative Research 1, no. 3 (2003): 201-207.
Harley, James. "Iannis Xenakis Bibliography and Discography." Leonardo. http://www.leonardo.info/isast/
spec.projects/Xenakisbib.html.
52Lombardo, Vincenzo, Andrea Valle, John Fitch, Kees Tazelaar and others. "A Virtual-Reality Reconstruction of
Poème Électronique Based on Philological Research." Computer Music Journal 33, no. 2 (2009)
53 Wikipedia. "Philips Pavilion." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philips_Pavilion.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 13

Orient-Occident by Iannis Xenakis

Iannis Xenakis composed Orient-Occident in 1960 at the Groupe de Recherche de Musique

Concrète in Paris, France. The piece is for four-track tape, 10:58 minutes in length, intended for a

live viewing audience. Xenakis produced Orient-Occident on commission from the United Nations

Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for a film created by Enrico Fulchignoni. 54

Xenakis began his career as a civil engineer in Greece. He was persecuted during World

War II, and left for Paris, where he would design the Philips Pavilion for Varèse's Poème

électronique. He worked with and was influenced by architect Le Corbusier. The multitalented

artist began studying music composition in 1951, particularly with Olivier Messiaen, and joined

Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry at the Paris studio in 1957.55

The composer, by the time of creating Orient-Occident, had over ten years of experience in

composition. The work was preceded by his Bohor, also considered a musique concrete

masterpiece. He would later go on to invent the UPIC, a graphical computer music composition

system, in 1977.56

54 EMF Media. "IANNIS XENAKIS Electronic Music." http://www.emfmedia.org/items/em102.html.


55Harley, James. "Iannis Xenakis Bibliography and Discography." Leonardo. http://www.leonardo.info/isast/
spec.projects/Xenakisbib.html.
56Harley, James. "Iannis Xenakis Bibliography and Discography." Leonardo. http://www.leonardo.info/isast/
spec.projects/Xenakisbib.html.
Xenakis's music is known for its connection to African and Japanese music,57

stochasticism-- or total randomness,58 and architectural design.59 From his architecture

perspective, he once said in interview:

The computer should be used not only for sound synthesis but also for macro-
structures, large-scale constructions.

Xenakis was a devotee of Antiquitial design both in architecture and in music. The film by

Enrico Fulchignoni was about transition of civilizations around the time of Alexander the Great,60

based on an exhibit at the Cernuschi Museum in Paris.61 Xenakis used the source materials and

structure of the piece to bring forth the qualities of Antiquity.62 Some of the source material

included boxes, bells, and metal rods bowed, the atmosphere, and an excerpt from one of his

acoustic music works.63 The source material was ordered and layered using a "geometric

57Di Scipio, Agostino. "Compositional Models in Xenakis's Electroacoustic Music." Perspectives of New Music 36, no.
2 (1998): 201-243.
58Di Scipio, Agostino. "Compositional Models in Xenakis's Electroacoustic Music." Perspectives of New Music 36, no.
2 (1998): 201-243.
59Xenakis, Iannis, Roberta Brown, and John Rahn. "Xenakis on Xenakis." Perspectives of New Music 25, no. 1/2
(1987): 16-63.
60Solomis, Mark. "Xenakis." Digital Music Archives. http://www.digital-music-archives.com/webdb2/application/
Application.php?fwServerClass=ProductDetail&ProductCode=CDE0053.
EMF Media. "IANNIS XENAKIS Electronic Music." http://www.emfmedia.org/items/em102.html.
61Harley, James. "Iannis Xenakis Bibliography and Discography." Leonardo. http://www.leonardo.info/isast/
spec.projects/Xenakisbib.html.
62Solomis, Mark. "Xenakis." Digital Music Archives. http://www.digital-music-archives.com/webdb2/application/
Application.php?fwServerClass=ProductDetail&ProductCode=CDE0053.
63 EMF Media. "IANNIS XENAKIS Electronic Music." http://www.emfmedia.org/items/em102.html.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 15

series."64 The composer is known as one of the first in the electronic field to draw associations

between visual imagery and sound.65

Xenakis worked with the ideas of slowing moving masses of sound, with contrasting

moments of intermittent subtlety.66 This was different from the "more transparent

appropriations" of Schaeffer and Henry.67 The author of this paper notes the conceptual similarity

with granular synthesis, a technique the composer's later computer music works would

implement.

Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles

Tomorrow Never Knows is a song from the Beatles, the last track on their controversial

Revolver album. The song was written by John Lennon and produced by George Martin. It was

recorded at the Abbey Road Studios in London, England from April 6 to June 21, 1966. The

Revolver album debuted on August 5, 1966. The label was Parlophone, which at the time was

heavily tied into big band and jazz music.68 The song is 2:57 minutes in length.

The Beatles were a huge success and nearing the end of their run by the time of Revolver,

with six previous albums. The Beatles had only one tour after the make of the album, and

Revolver was the first album on a path of complete creative and artistic control for the Beatles.

64Di Scipio, Agostino. "Compositional Models in Xenakis's Electroacoustic Music." Perspectives of New Music 36, no.
2 (1998): 201-243.
65Harley, James. "Iannis Xenakis Bibliography and Discography." Leonardo. http://www.leonardo.info/isast/
spec.projects/Xenakisbib.html.
Lombardo, Vincenzo, Andrea Valle, John Fitch, Kees Tazelaar and others. "A Virtual-Reality Reconstruction of Poème
Électronique Based on Philological Research." Computer Music Journal 33, no. 2 (2009)
66Kim, Rebecca. "Iannis Xenakis's Bohor." Columbia University. http://music.columbia.edu/masterpieces/notes/
xenakis/bio.html.
67Kim, Rebecca. "Iannis Xenakis's Bohor." Columbia University. http://music.columbia.edu/masterpieces/notes/
xenakis/bio.html.
68Reck, David R. "Beatles Orientalis: Influences from Asia in a Popular Song Tradition." Asian Music 16, no. 1 (1985):
103.
At this time, EMI was buying out Parlophone. Rock artists of the late 1960s were seeking out

worldly sounds.69 At this time, the Beatles were interested in Indian music, musique concrete,

and psychedelic pop. They are known for a never ending exploration of sound, worldly

influences, as well as an influence from rhythm-and-blues music. Revolver was influenced as

well by heavy usage of the drug LSD, also known as acid. Just before Revolver, the Beatles had

the most successful tour in North America in the history of rock music.

"Lennon's identity crisis at the height of his fame spawned a number of self-
referential confessionals about his identity ('Help!', 'Strawberry Fields' and 'She
Said She Said') and alternative realms of the imagination that reached beyond
the conscious world ('Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds' and 'Tomorrow Never
Knows')."70

The instruments used in Tomorrow Never Knows are tape, vocals, Hammond organ,

tambourine, bass, drums, guitar, sitar, tambura (bass like drone),71 and honky-tonk piano. The

musique concrete elements are seagulls, a Sibelius symphony in B-flat, guitar, and sitar

samples. The English lyrics come from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, transliterated, which

Lennon had read under the influence of LSD.72 The song is mostly on a C-major chord, and based

on Indian music, particularly for the use of drones.73 Lennon had a copy of Stockhausen's

Gesang der Jünglinge, and the musique concrete ideas are based on it.74

69Bellman, Jonathan. "Indian Resonances in the British Invasion, 1965-1968." The Journal of Musicology 15, no. 1
(1997): 116-136.
70 Riley, Tim. "For the Beatles: Notes on Their Achievement." Popular Music 6, no. 3 (1987): 270.
71Reck, David R. "Beatles Orientalis: Influences from Asia in a Popular Song Tradition." Asian Music 16, no. 1 (1985):
103.
72Bellman, Jonathan. "Indian Resonances in the British Invasion, 1965-1968." The Journal of Musicology 15, no. 1
(1997): 116-136.
73Bellman, Jonathan. "Indian Resonances in the British Invasion, 1965-1968." The Journal of Musicology 15, no. 1
(1997): 116-136.
74
Smalley, John. "Gesang der Jünglinge: History and Analysis." Columbia University. http://music.columbia.edu/
masterpieces/notes/stockhausen/GesangHistoryandAnalysis.pdf. 2000.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 17

Tomorrow Never Knows used a BTR3 tape machine, a Hammond organ, and a Mellotron Mk.

II for flute and violin like sounds.75 Some of the processing techniques used include automatic

double tracking to double the vocals, reverse, and layering, inspired from Gesang. The automatic

double tracking technology used in Tomorrow Never Knows led to the development of the

artificial chorus effect.76

Silver Apples of the Moon by Morton Subotnick

Silver Apples of the Moon is an album by Morton Subotnick, originally released as an LP in

1967, and re-released on CD on June 14, 1994. It's length is 31:39 minutes, with a part A of 16:40

minutes and a part B of 14:59 to fit on a two-sided LP.77 It was the first electronic piece

commissioned by a major record label, Nonesuch.78 It became a bestseller in the classical music

category.79

Morton Subotnick "studied with Darius Milhaud and Leon Kirchner at Mills College in

Oakland, CA."80 He has been teaching music composition since the early 1960s,81 with his first

successful composition in 1958, and first tape piece in 1961.82 At the time of Silver Apples of the

Moon, Subotnick was teaching at New York University's Tisch school after having left the San

75Reck, David R. "Beatles Orientalis: Influences from Asia in a Popular Song Tradition." Asian Music 16, no. 1 (1985):
103.
76
Lenser, Barry. "The Beatles - “Ask Me Why”." Sundance Channel. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/ask-me-
why/.
77 Ghezzo, Dino. "Morton Subotnick." International New Music Consortium. http://www.inmc.org/Subotnick.html.
78Truax, Barry. ""Sequence of Earlier Heaven": The Record as a Medium for the Electroacoustic Composer." Leonardo
21, no. 1 (1998): 25-28.
79 Ghezzo, Dino. "Morton Subotnick." International New Music Consortium. http://www.inmc.org/Subotnick.html.
80 Subotnick, Morton. "Bio." http://www.mortonsubotnick.com/about.html.
81 Subotnick, Morton. "Bio." http://www.mortonsubotnick.com/about.html.
82 Subotnick, Morton. "Timeline." http://www.mortonsubotnick.com/timeline.html.
Francisco Tape Music Center.83 His music is known for its regular rhythms and classical forms.84

Nonesuch was a major record label, a subsidiary of Warner Music, and a supporter of world

music.85

The piece is generated from a Buchla synthesizer, which featured modular voltage-control,

sequencing abilities, and a pressure-sensitive keyboard.86 The album, which sounds a bit like an

early video game thanks to its use of simple waveforms, features a regular, rapid rhythm. The

album's rhythmic qualities have led to it being choreographed multiple times.87 This was

unusual for academic circles up to that point, but is prolific throughout the composer's career.88

It was the first major electronic composition to use a sequencer.89

The 1970s

In the era of the 1970s, the biggest theme of electronic music history continued onward:

more diversity. The first two pieces in this section represent the desire to connect other kinds of

music with electronic music, and third marks the beginning of an important genre of electronic

music.

83
Gann, Kyle. "From Moog to Mark II, to MIDI to MAX." American Public Media. http://
musicmavericks.publicradio.org/features/essay_gann11.html.
84 Subotnick, Morton. "Bio." http://www.mortonsubotnick.com/about.html.
85
Library of Congress. "The Full National Recording Registry." http://www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb/nrpb-
masterlist.html.
86
Gann, Kyle. "From Moog to Mark II, to MIDI to MAX." American Public Media. http://
musicmavericks.publicradio.org/features/essay_gann11.html.
87 Art and Popular Culture. "Morton Subotnick." http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Morton_Subotnick.
88
Dockstader, Tod. "Review: Morton Subotnick: The Wild Bull a Composition for Electronic-Music Synthesizer by
Morton Subotnick." The Musical Quarterly 55, no. 1 (1969): 136-139.
89 EMF Institute. "Silver Apples of the Moon." http://emfinstitute.emf.org/exhibits/subotnicksilver.html.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 19

Synchronism #6 by Mario Davidovsky

Synchronism #6 by Mario Davidovsky is combination tape with live performance

electroacoustic piece, intended for concert audience. The entire series, currently up to ten in

number, features a solo instrumentalist and electronics. Synchronism #6 features piano as its

solo instrumentalist. The tape is eight-channel. It is 7:10 minutes in length. It premiered in 1970,

likely in the McMillan Theater at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York. 90 It

won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971, the second electronic piece of music to do so.

Mario Davidovsky is a lifelong composer, who at the time of Synchronism #6 had over ten

years of experience working with electronics. The piece developed while he was teaching at the

Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. The Argentine-American composer studied at the

University of Buenos Aires, and then studied composition with Aaron Copland and Milton

Babbitt, as well as serving as a technician for Varese.91 He was also a student of Stockhausen's

work.92 Davidovsky explains how he was drawn to electronic music:

The principal reason was that I immediately realized that sounds in electronic
music behave in a completely new way. There is no physical constraint, no
bow, no air to blow. I learned that the dynamic of the sound was really
fantastically new, with a whole new idea of space and time. I immediately
thought that those behaviors of sound were so good that I wanted to make
them a part of instrumental music.93

90Gluck, Bob. "Interview with Mario Davidovsky." EMF Institute. http://emfinstitute.emf.org/articles/


gluck.davidovsky_05.html.
91 Collage New Music. "Mario Davidovsky." http://www.collagenewmusic.org/davidovsky.html.
92Gluck, Bob. "Interview with Mario Davidovsky." EMF Institute. http://emfinstitute.emf.org/articles/
gluck.davidovsky_05.html.
93Gluck, Bob. "Interview with Mario Davidovsky." EMF Institute. http://emfinstitute.emf.org/articles/
gluck.davidovsky_05.html.
The Synchronism series features tape, or live electronics with later pieces, with one or

more live musicians. Davidovsky has a few reasons for this. A major component of this is

audience accessibility of electroacoustic music. Davidovsky:

I could help the cause of electronic music by introducing a human being


playing. The audience can connect with a flutist or violin player. I thought that
seeing a real instrumentalist playing could disarm the hostility that someone
might have for electronic music.94

The form of the Synchronism pieces borrows from classical forms, but uses elements from

modern narratives.95 However, the pieces do not adhere to any major style.96 Davidovsky is

greatly interested in sound envelopes, or the shape of amplitude over time, which "takes into

account the most basic acoustical properties of the live instrument employed."97 Each of the

pieces has a single melodic and rhythmic idea as well as a single timbre and amplitude idea.98

In Synchronism #6, the opening motif is essentially the entire piece.99 Also, the piece

generally follows Sonata form, featuring three major sections: Exposition, Development, and

Recapitulation.100 #6 uses the quick decay of the piano strike to have a jarring effect, using the

tape to lead up to the real piano notes.101

94Gluck, Bob. "Interview with Mario Davidovsky." EMF Institute. http://emfinstitute.emf.org/articles/


gluck.davidovsky_05.html.
95 The Music of Mario Davidovsky, Vol. 3. CD. 1998. Liner notes.
96Oteri, Frank J. "Mario Davidovsky: A Long Way from Home." New Box Music. http://www.newmusicbox.org/
article.nmbx?id=4839.
97Chasalow, Eric. "Mario Davidowsky: An Introduction." AGNI Magazine. http://www.bu.edu/agni/reviews/print/
1999/50-chasalow.html.
98 The Music of Mario Davidovsky, Vol. 3. CD. 1998. Liner notes.
99Chasalow, Eric. "Mario Davidowsky: An Introduction." AGNI Magazine. http://www.bu.edu/agni/reviews/print/
1999/50-chasalow.html.
100 The Music of Mario Davidovsky, Vol. 3. CD. 1998. Liner notes.
101Chasalow, Eric. "Mario Davidowsky: An Introduction." AGNI Magazine. http://www.bu.edu/agni/reviews/print/
1999/50-chasalow.html.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 21

Figure in a Clearing by David Behrman

Figure in a Clearing is an electroacoustic piece for concert audience and one side of an LP,

19:10 minutes long. The piece is for cello and computer, the Kim-1.102 In the recording, the cello

is played by David Gibson. 103 Behrman developed the work in Oakland, California, and it debuted

at the electronic music studio at SUNY: Albany on June 9, 1977.104 The work is known as one of

the earliest successful pieces using a microcomputer.105

David Behrman was an experienced acoustic composer at the time of working on Figure in

a Clearing, and a professor at Mills College;106 however, it was the composer's first work with

computer. 107 Behrman is noted for "throwing away established techniques,"108 and has a

particular interest in working with lights.109 He is also associated with minimalism, and later

works of human performer with computer interaction. The composer was also a founding

member of the Sonic Arts Union (1966-1976), a touring group of electroacoustic and modern

102 lovely.com. "Album Notes: "On the Other Ocean" (1977)." http://www.lovely.com/albumnotes/notes1041.html.
103 lovely.com. "Album Notes: "On the Other Ocean" (1977)." http://www.lovely.com/albumnotes/notes1041.html.
104 lovely.com. "Album Notes: "On the Other Ocean" (1977)." http://www.lovely.com/albumnotes/notes1041.html.
105
Kuivila, Ron, and David Behrman. "Composing with Shifting Sand: A Conversation between Ron Kuivila and David
Behrman on Electronic Music and the Ephemerality of Technology." Leonardo Music Journal 8 (1998): 13-16.
106Tyranny, Gene. "David Behrman Biography." Yahoo! Music. http://new.music.yahoo.com/david-behrman/
biography/;_ylt=A0SO2xc_tClLB1AAFS7HxCUv.
107 On the Other Ocean. CD. 1996. Liner notes.
108 Holmes, Thom. Electronic and Experimental Music. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008.
109
Studio Five Beekman. "Pen Light: an interactive sound and light installation." http://diapasongallery.org/
behrman.html.
musicians.110 He studied Gesang der Jünglinge under Stockhausen in 1959 at Darmstadt, and

worked with Wallingford Rieger, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma, and Merce Cunningham.111

The cello in Figure in a Clearing is accompanied by the Kim-1, which generates triangles

waves.112 Only six pitches are assigned to the cello for the entire piece for improvisation.113 The

composer made certain the software enables the imagination of the performer beyond his own

ideas for the work.114 The software time-wise is "modeled on the motion of a satellite in falling

elliptical orbit around a planet" with the harmonic pattern.115 Behrman has stated he is more

interested in relaxing, calming music,116 and the minimalism of the six notes, along with the

gentle changes in the computer's sound,117 matches this inclination. The composer directed the

cellist to "not speed up" along with the computer,118 further adding a calming effect to the work.

The Kim-1 in the piece makes use of triangle wave generators, voltage-control signals and

frequency modulation synthesis.119 The composer spent a great deal of his work on the piece

getting it to work consistently with the new technology, taking multiple rounds of testing before

110
Kuivila, Ron, and David Behrman. "Composing with Shifting Sand: A Conversation between Ron Kuivila and David
Behrman on Electronic Music and the Ephemerality of Technology." Leonardo Music Journal 8 (1998): 13-16.
111 Gross, Jason. "David Behrman interview." Perfect Sound Forever. http://www.furious.com/perfect/behrman.html.
112 Amazon. "On the Other Ocean." http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000003Y88.
113 Amazon. "On the Other Ocean." http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000003Y88.
114 Gross, Jason. "David Behrman interview." Perfect Sound Forever. http://www.furious.com/perfect/behrman.html.
115 On the Other Ocean. CD. 1996. Liner notes.
116 Gross, Jason. "David Behrman interview." Perfect Sound Forever. http://www.furious.com/perfect/behrman.html.
117 On the Other Ocean. CD. 1996. Liner notes.
118 lovely.com. "Album Notes: "On the Other Ocean" (1977)." http://www.lovely.com/albumnotes/notes1041.html.
119 Behrman, David. "1970s." dbehrman.net. http://www.dbehrman.net/1970s/1970s-figure.html.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 23

ending with a satisfactory work.120 Behrman was particularly engaged with the technology,

saying:

It seemed astounding in 1977 that a translucent green circuit board with a tiny
brain on it could take a million instructions per second from its little memory
and send commands to another device, the home-made music synthesizer,
whenever its program asked it to do so.121

Music for Airports by Brian Eno

Music for Airports is an ambient electronic music album by Brian Eno. The album was

released in 1978 at 48:32 minutes in length by Editions Eg Records, an independent United

Kingdom label. The album is intended as an installation for airports and other high stress public

locations.122 The first installation of Music for Airports was in 1980 at the La Guardia Airport's

Maine Terminal.123 Eno developed Music for Airports in London, England, and the last track at

Cologne, Germany. It is one of the major early works of ambient music.

Brian Eno began his music career in 1972 in the band Roxy Music.124 He had made five

previous successful albums,125 including the ambient album Discreet Music. Eno is credited with

120
Kuivila, Ron, and David Behrman. "Composing with Shifting Sand: A Conversation between Ron Kuivila and David
Behrman on Electronic Music and the Ephemerality of Technology." Leonardo Music Journal 8 (1998): 13-16.
121 lovely.com. "Album Notes: "On the Other Ocean" (1977)." http://www.lovely.com/albumnotes/notes1041.html.
122Baskas, Harriet. "Better branding through music: Original airport theme songs." USA Today. http://
www.usatoday.com/travel/columnist/baskas/2008-03-12-airport-theme-songs_N.htm.
Amirkhanian, Charles. "Music For Earthquakes: Brian Eno at the Exploratorium in San Francisco." hyperreal.org.
http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/interviews/reha88.html.
123Lanza, Joseph. "The Sound of Cottage Cheese (Why Background Music Is the Real World Beat!)." Performing Arts
Journal 13, no. 3 (1991): 42-53.
124 Aikin, Jim. "Eno." Keyboard Wizards, Winter 1985.
125 Haidenbauer , Johann. "Brian Eno Discography." enoweb. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/discog.html.
creating the term ambient music.126 He would continue to make three more ambient albums;

and have numerous collaborations with rock stars, video game directors and film makers.

Eno, like many artists in this paper, was not satisfied with the music stylings of the time.

He despised classic music:

Classical music in England is about as interesting as watching someone do


trigonometry exercises.127

Also at the time, disco was surging as a genre, along with the beginnings of new wave

rock music, neither of which Eno was a fan.128 However, he was inspired by jazz music, reggae,

and John Cage's chance music.129

Eno's inspiration for creating Music for Airports was the Cologne Airport:

I thought: "What do you most want to feel when you get on a plane?" And I
was aware that the music that gets used in airports has exactly the opposite
effect that it's supposed to. It's supposed to make you think: 'Don't worry.
Everything's all right. It's just a normal day.' [...] I was thinking that Music For
Airports should give you the feeling that, 'Well, it doesn't really matter all that
much anyway. What's a few humans less?' So that's why the music has a
slightly, I'd say, resigned feeling to it.130

Brian Eno used human voices, acoustic piano, and a synthesizer as the source materials

for creating Music for Airports. The vocal performers were Christa Fast, Christine Gomez, and

Inge Zeininger, with Robert Wyatt on acoustic piano.131 Eno asked the performers to improvise

126Amirkhanian, Charles. "Music For Earthquakes: Brian Eno at the Exploratorium in San Francisco." hyperreal.org.
http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/interviews/reha88.html.
127Amirkhanian, Charles. "Music For Earthquakes: Brian Eno at the Exploratorium in San Francisco." hyperreal.org.
http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/interviews/reha88.html.
128 Aikin, Jim. "Eno." Keyboard Wizards, Winter 1985.
129
Baskas, Harriet. "Better branding through music: Original airport theme songs." USA Today. http://
www.usatoday.com/travel/columnist/baskas/2008-03-12-airport-theme-songs_N.htm.
130Amirkhanian, Charles. "Music For Earthquakes: Brian Eno at the Exploratorium in San Francisco." hyperreal.org.
http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/interviews/reha88.html.
131 Ambient 1: Music for Airports. CD. 2004. Liner notes.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 25

independently in the recording studio, and he took small sections of the recordings to loop.132

He used a twenty-four track tape machine,133 later mixed down to stereo, and an ARP2600

synthesizer.134 Brian Eno made use of exaggerated compression,135 echo, chance operations, and

allowing the problems of the synthesizer to become features.136

The album is divided into four sections: 1/1 is piano and synthesizer, 1/2 is piano with

voices, 2/1 is only voices, and 2/2 is synthesizer only. The energy level is consistent throughout

the album other than the gaps between tracks. There is an emphasis on bass frequencies in the

first and last tracks; otherwise Eno falls on the side of consistency over variety. However, it

seems each repetition of the looped materials is somehow different each time it is brought

back.

Tracks from the album are used in documentaries and in public spaces. Eno also made an

ambient film in 1981, titled Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan, which features tracks

from Music for Airports.137

The 1980s

By the time we review the masterpieces of electronic music of the 1980s, there is such a

large diversity of work to choose from that the selection becomes more focused on overall

132Bass, David. "The Studio As Compositional Tool." Downbeat. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/


interviews/downbeat79.htm.
133Bass, David. "The Studio As Compositional Tool." Downbeat. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/
interviews/downbeat79.htm.
134 Aikin, Jim. "Eno." Keyboard Wizards, Winter 1985.
135Bass, David. "The Studio As Compositional Tool." Downbeat. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/
interviews/downbeat79.htm.
136 Aikin, Jim. "Eno." Keyboard Wizards, Winter 1985.
137 Haidenbauer, Johann. "enoweb." video. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/videoother.html.
quality than attempts to represent specific movements. The first and third pieces in this section

represent developments in academic circles, and the second, the beginnings of one of the most

influential genres of mainstream electronic music.

Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco by Jonathan Harvey

Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco is an eight-channel138 tape piece by Jonathan Harvey. The

translation of the title is I lament the dead, I call the living (to prayer). It debuted at the Lille

Festival on November 20, 1980139 at 9:00 minutes in length. It is one of the first, if not the first,

piece to use convolution, 140 and this author's favorite tape piece.

Jonathan Harvey is a British composer, who by the time of composing Mortuos Plango,

Vivos Voco held two doctorates141 and composed many chamber and choral works. This however

was the composer's first work in the electronic realm, 142 although Harvey had worked with the

equipment previously.143 Harvey did the recording for the piece at Winchester Cathedral in the

United Kingdom, and did the processing work at IRCAM in Paris, France.144 IRCAM had recently

138 Harvey, Jonathan. "Madonna of Winter and Spring." The Musical Times 127, no. 1720 (1986): 431-433.
139 Harvey, Jonathan. "List of works - 1977 to present." vivosvoco.com. http://www.vivosvoco.com/listofworks.html.
140Allen, J Anthony. "Jonathon Harvey, Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco: An Analytical Method for Timbre Analysis and
Notation." Spark (2005): 78-79.
141Harvey, Jonathan. "Sketches for Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980)." BBC, 2005 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/
cutandsplice/mortuos.shtml.
142 Harvey, Jonathan. "List of works - 1977 to present." vivosvoco.com. http://www.vivosvoco.com/listofworks.html.
143
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 111.
144Harvey, Jonathan. "Sketches for Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980)." BBC, 2005 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/
cutandsplice/mortuos.shtml.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 27

opened in 1977.145 John Chowning was working on FM synthesis, IRCAM gained a new building,

and the 4X computer system was all developing at the time.146

Jonathan Harvey's work is known for its spirituality,147 including Buddhism and the eastern

mantra,148 and the manifestation of a single idea.149 His compositions are also known for their

spectralism, and serialism based on spectralism; wherein the composer uses the spectral

content of the source material to generate the form of the work.150

The text of Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco is in Latin, and religious in nature. Harvey recorded

his son, Dominic, who was in a choir at Winchester Cathedral. The text is inscribed on the

largest bell in the cathedral.151 Harvey also recorded the bell. The composer uses his son's voice

to represent life (Vivos Voco) and the bell to represent death (Mortuos Plango).152 Each of the

145 EMF Institute. "Big Timeline - Composition." http://emfinstitute.emf.org/bigtimelines/composition.html.


146 IRCAM. "History." http://www.ircam.fr/62.html?L=1.
147
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 112.
148Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 112.
Harvey, Jonathan. "Madonna of Winter and Spring." The Musical Times 127, no. 1720 (1986): 432.
149
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 112.
150Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 113.
Harvey, Jonathan. "The Composer's View: Atonality." The Musical Times 121, no. 1653 (1980): 699-700.
151
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 112.
152Harvey, Jonathan. "Sketches for Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980)." BBC, 2005 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/
cutandsplice/mortuos.shtml.
eight sections of the piece, unique in timbre characteristics, begins with the bell.153 The eight

channel work is spatially propagated in a cube to create three-dimensional sound.154

Harvey used manipulation of timbre both as form and content for Mortuos Plango, Vivos

Voco. In a serial fashion, Harvey analyzed the spectral content of the bell, and used "partials

from the bell to form the basis of the pitch structure of the entire composition."155 Under his

analysis, there were thirty-three partials that made up the sound of the bell.156

The composer used the Music V software for processing the source material.157 Also, he

used a piece of software called Chant, developed at IRCAM, which provides a technique called

FOF Synthesis, or formant synthesis in English.158 This allowed Harvey to synthesize the sounds

of the bell and the voice in simple waveforms, and mix the two together seamlessly at various

stages of the piece. Some of the other processing techniques Harvey used were reverse, FFT

partial analysis, additive synthesis, crossfading, glissandi,159 and FM synthesis.160 Being his first

153
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 113.
154
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 112.
155
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 116.
156Gilbert, Janet. "New Music and Myth: The Olympic Arts Festival of Contemporary Music: Los Angeles June 18-24,
1984."Perspectives of New Music 22, no. 1/2 (1983): 478-482.
157
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 115.
158
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 117.
159
Clarke, Michael. "Jonathan Harvey's Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." In Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music,
Mary Simoni, 111-144. New York: Routledge, 2006. 115-117 + 131.
160Allen, J Anthony. "Jonathon Harvey, Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco: An Analytical Method for Timbre Analysis and
Notation." Spark (2005): 78-79.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 29

released electronic work, Harvey felt "intimidated" by the technology, so despite using advanced

processing techniques, the quality of the sounds stay near the source materials.161

The video art group Visual Kitchen, based out of Brussels, created a video installation

based on the work that premiered at the Saint Catherine's Church in Vilnius, Lithuania during

the Gaida Festival on October 24, 2008.162

The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

The Message is both a song and an album by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. This

entry will focus on the song. It was written and performed by MC Duke Bootee and MC Melle

Mel on the album.163 The album was released in May 1982 by Sugar Hill Studios, the founding

label of hip-hop music. It is intended for both radio play and concert performance. While the

hip-hop scene began in the Bronx, New York City, the album was recorded in Englewood, New

Jersey. The song is 7:10 minutes in length and in English. It is one of the most identifiable hip-

hop songs, and the first to be entered in the United States National Archive of Historic

Recordings, as well as the first internationally successful hip-hop song.164

Hip-hop has its roots in the Bronx, New York City in the early 70s, where DJ Kool Herc

invented the form of breakbeats. Essentially, the instrumental versions of songs, particularly

funk songs, were taken and sections looped to allow club attendees to break dance.

Grandmaster Flash said DJs started to do rapping on top of the breakbeats to keep audiences

entertained and not become violent.165 The group had one previous album in 1979, which still

161Harvey, Jonathan. "Sketches for Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco (1980)." BBC, 2005 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/
cutandsplice/mortuos.shtml.
162 Visual Kitchen. "Mortuos Plango, Vivos Voco." http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=68198464664.
163 The Message. CD. 2002. Liner notes.
164 The Message. CD. 2002. Liner notes.
165 YouTube. "Grandmaster Flash - Interview 1986." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiojcGahgG4.
had a very strong funk influence. The only greatly successful hip-hop genre song that preceded

it was Rapper's Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang.166 Grandmaster Flash, who has an electronics

degree,167 along with the Furious Five, had just finished a opening on a tour with The Clash

before working on the album.168 At the time, they were still DJing in the clubs in New York City,

known as b-boy parties.169

The song is perhaps the first to use hip-hop as a means of making a social statement.

Flash:

Nobody was really looking for social significance, we was just looking to make
the record, but now everyone's pressurized into coming with something like
that again, but you can't really come up with nothing like that because you
can't really come up with nothing that already was there in the first place. It
wasn't like nobody made it up from that point in time just to do it, it was just
laying around.170

The song is slow paced, which emphasizes the lyrical content about living in poverty, one

author calling it a "dark commentary."171 Flash and crew admitted they were concerned about

the viability of a hip-hop song not aimed at the club scene.172 However, in one description, it

166 Henry, Ed. "Hip-hop, you don’t stop: landmark records." NEW STATESMAN, 6 July 2009, 45.
167Miller, Chuck. "GRANDMASTER CUTS FASTER: THE STORY OF GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE." Goldmine,
1997.
168Miller, Chuck. "GRANDMASTER CUTS FASTER: THE STORY OF GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE." Goldmine,
1997.
169Miller, Chuck. "GRANDMASTER CUTS FASTER: THE STORY OF GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE." Goldmine,
1997.
170LaBrasca, Bob, and Larry Sloman. "Interview: Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (1983)." High Times, 31 March
2003.
171Miller, Chuck. "GRANDMASTER CUTS FASTER: THE STORY OF GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE." Goldmine,
1997.
172LaBrasca, Bob, and Larry Sloman. "Interview: Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (1983)." High Times, 31 March
2003.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 31

"transformed hip-hop from party music to a conscious culture with a socio-political message."173

The famous refrain lyrics of the song are:

Don't push me, 'cause I'm close to the edge; I'm tryin' not to lose my head.

The piece has four component sound producers: the rapper, the synthesizer, electronic

drums, and turntable performance. The technology used represents the lower cost of entry that

allowed for a more diversification in the electronic music scene. The song uses a Sequential

Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer, which was one of the first polyphonic synthesizers commercially

available.174 It also featured patch memory, FM synthesis, and ring modulation. Also used was a

Technics SL-20 turntable175 and a SP12 drum machine.176 The song is the first to use the

scratching technique on turntable on a commercial album.177

A music video was also made to accompany the song's release as a single.

Répons by Pierre Boulez

Répons, or Response in English, is a mixed electroacoustic by Pierre Boulez, which debuted

at the Donaueschingen Festival in Germany on October 18, 1981.178 Boulez completed the final

version of the piece in 1984, which recorded is 43:31 in length.179 The work is for six soloists:

173 Freedoom, Bardos. "Grandmaster Flash interview." Radio 1190, 12 March 2009.
174LaBrasca, Bob, and Larry Sloman. "Interview: Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (1983)." High Times, 31 March
2003.
175Miller, Chuck. "GRANDMASTER CUTS FASTER: THE STORY OF GRANDMASTER FLASH AND THE FURIOUS FIVE." Goldmine,
1997.
176Doran, John. "Flash Bang Wallop: The Grandmaster Interviewed." The Quietus. http://thequietus.com/articles/
01169-flash-bang-whallop-grandmaster-interviewed.
177 Henry, Ed. "Hip-hop, you don’t stop: landmark records." NEW STATESMAN, 6 July 2009, 45.
178 Pierre Boulez: Répons / Dialogue de l'Ombre Double. CD. 1999. Liner notes.
179
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
two pianos, vibraphone, glockenspiel, cimbalon;180 twenty-four piece orchestra,181 and

electronics. It is intended as a live piece for concert audience. It won a Grammy in 2009.182

Pierre Boulez has been an active composer since the 1940s, and is known for his work

with serialism and chance operations. Boulez is know for his "internally consistent style" he

provides his work with.183 From his studies of Stockhausen, he is influenced by Asian music and

not "going from A to B."184

Pierre Boulez is heavily connected to IRCAM in Paris, France, and even more specifically,

Ensemble InterContemporain, who performed Répons.185 Boulez, before composing Répons,

found himself dissatisfied with tape pieces, and took IRCAM in a live processing direction.186

Ensemble InterContemporain formed at IRCAM to give experimental composers the flexibility

needed to create live, electronically processed music.187 Previously in 1971, he composed a

major flute with electronics concerto.188

180
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
181Gable, David. "Ramifying Connections: An Interview with Pierre Boulez." The Journal of Musicology 4, no. 1 (1985):
105-113.
182
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
183McNamee, Ann K. "Review: Are Boulez and Stockhausen Ready for the Mainstream?." The Musical Quarterly 76,
no. 2 (1992): 283-291.
184Gable, David. "Ramifying Connections: An Interview with Pierre Boulez." The Journal of Musicology 4, no. 1 (1985):
105-113.
McNamee, Ann K. "Review: Are Boulez and Stockhausen Ready for the Mainstream?." The Musical Quarterly 76, no. 2
(1992): 283-291.
185 Pierre Boulez: Répons / Dialogue de l'Ombre Double. CD. 1999. Liner notes.
186 IRCAM. "History." http://www.ircam.fr/62.html?L=1.
187 IRCAM. "History." http://www.ircam.fr/62.html?L=1.
188 IRCAM. "History." http://www.ircam.fr/62.html?L=1.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 33

The two main ideas behind Répons are call and response and spirals. The physical setup

uses six speakers, one for each soloist, and the orchestra. Répons is conceptually made up of

"three sound-categories -- natural, amplified, and transformed."189 Boulez:

Respons is conceived as a spiral. It was always conceived as a spiral.190

The speakers and soloists are in alteration placed in a circle around the audience,

surrounding the audience with the piece.191 The title of the piece comes from Gregorian Chant,

wherein a soloist and a choir, spatially separated, respond to each other.192 The spiral idea was

inspired by the Guggenheim Museum.193 The effect of the spiral is that of a spatial

"whirlwind."194 Boulez composed Répons almost completely in reverse order by section.195

The form of Répons has ten section, an introduction, one through eight, then a coda. The

introduction is orchestra only. Section one then introduces the elements around the circle. The

work climaxes in section six, and fades out during the coda.196 While Boulez shows great control

throughout the work, sporadic moments of complete chaos burst through the piece.197 Boulez

189 Driver, Paul. "Boulez's 'Répons'." Tempo 140 (1982): 27-28.


190 Driver, Paul. "Boulez's 'Répons'." Tempo 140 (1982): 27-28.
191
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
192
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
193Words of Boulez. Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/
joyce/music/boulez_repons.html.
194
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
195Gable, David. "Ramifying Connections: An Interview with Pierre Boulez." The Journal of Musicology 4, no. 1 (1985):
105-113.
196
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
197Gable, David. "Ramifying Connections: An Interview with Pierre Boulez." The Journal of Musicology 4, no. 1 (1985):
105-113.
uses a largely variety of musical techniques, but everything is kept in balance for the overall

sound.198

In the 1984 version, the composer used a 4X computer system and a MATRIX32 mixing

board.199 Boulez took three additional years to complete the work because technology was

improving at a rapid rate. 200 Later versions of the work make use of pitch recognition.201 The

electronic equipment is, unlike most of the pieces in this paper, used largely for repetition,

embellishment, and decoration.202 Boulez referred to his electronic processing as "wallpaper

music [...] each soloist is free to mix in synthesized sound contained on his tape-recorder."203

The 1990s and 2000s

The last two pieces in this paper represent current developments in electronic music.

While both works are brilliant, only time will tell how influential these works will be.

Ambiant Otaku by Tetsu Inoue

Ambiant Otaku is an album by Testu Inoue, released in Frankfurt, Germany204 on March 21,

1994.205 The stereo album was originally limited to one hundred copies worldwide (Inoue):

198
Ruch, Allen B. "Pierre Boulez's Répons." The Modern World. http://www.themodernword.com/joyce/music/
boulez_repons.html.
199McCallum, Peter, and Pierre Boulez. "An Interview with Pierre Boulez." The Musical Times 130, no. 1751 (1989):
8-10.
200McCallum, Peter, and Pierre Boulez. "An Interview with Pierre Boulez." The Musical Times 130, no. 1751 (1989):
8-10.
201 Mawhinney, Simon, and Pierre Boulez. "Composer in Interview: Pierre Boulez." Tempo 216 (2001): 2-5.
202 Driver, Paul. "Boulez's 'Répons'." Tempo 140 (1982): 27-28.
203 Driver, Paul. "Boulez's 'Répons'." Tempo 140 (1982): 27-28.
204Cooper, Sean. "KALX Berkeley Interview ." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/
inouevw.html.
205 Apple iTunes. "Ambiant Otaku." http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ambiant-otaku/id83255367.
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 35

No, I'm not to do with the re-release. Peter was mentioning about people
paying 100 dollars for a disc and it was really ridiculous. Many people asked,
so he decided to release it again.206

It is an underground masterpiece of modern ambient music.

Ambiant Otaku was developed at and released by studio and ambient music label FAX

+29-69/450464. The label was started by Pete Namlook in Germany in 1992.207 The album was the

first solo work for Inoue, but had previously collaborated with Namlook for the the albums Orion

and Orion II. 208 Inoue states he was drawn to ambient music because of a lack of access to

drugs in Japan. 209 Since Ambiant Otaku, his music has moved from peaceful to more chaotic

along with popular style.210

Inoue is associated with the ambient genre of music. Tetsu Inoue is likely not a fan of

many pieces in this paper, calling academic music "too difficult to understand" and that it does

not "communicate much with people outside the academic world."211 The composer's ideas

borrow heavily, as with other ambient composers, from minimalism. His mentor and the studio's

owner was Pete Namlook.212 Inoue cites Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra,213 and

206Opdyke, David. "AmbiEntrance Interview." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/


inouevw3.html.
207 FAX +49-69/450464. http://www.namlook.de/.
208 hyperreal.org. "Tetsu Inoue Bio." http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/main.html.
209Cooper, Sean. "KALX Berkeley Interview ." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/
inouevw.html.
210Opdyke, David. "AmbiEntrance Interview." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/
inouevw3.html.
211Cooper, Sean. "Urban Sounds interview." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/
inouevw2.html.
212 FAX +49-69/450464. http://www.namlook.de/.
213 hyperreal.org. "Tetsu Inoue Bio." http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/main.html.
Tomita214 as sources of inspiration. The composer is not greatly concerned with his audience,

saying composition is "more like a personal diary."215

Inoue created Ambiant Otaku largely on a Synthi synthesizer; it was not done on a

computer as Psycho-Acoustic was his first computer music album.216 Of the five tracks on the

album, Karmic Light, Low of Vibration, Ambiant Otaku, Holy Dance, and Magnetic Fields, only

Holy Fields uses elements outside of the synthesizer.217 Reviewer Sean Cooper calls the album

similar to Eno's Discreet Music, but more modern with "synth passages occasionally accented by

subtle beats and lifting melodies."218 The album features a mandala on the front cover, a

religious symbol of Buddhism and Hinduism used for meditation.

It Only Needs To Be Seen by Kyong Mee Choi

The last piece, and most recent, piece in this paper is Kyong Mee Choi's It Only Needs To

Be Seen. The 7:10 minute long work premiered at the SEAMUS conference at the University of

Oregon in 2006, which was held March 30 to April 1.219 It took first prize in the 2006 ASCAP/

SEAMUS Student Commission program.220 The piece features a guitarist, with stereo electronics

processing the sounds of the guitar live.

214Cooper, Sean. "KALX Berkeley Interview ." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/


inouevw.html.
215Opdyke, David. "AmbiEntrance Interview." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/
inouevw3.html.
216Cooper, Sean. "KALX Berkeley Interview ." hyperreal.org. http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/press/
inouevw.html.
217 hyperreal.org. "Ambiant Otaku." http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/tetsu/discog/solo/otaku.html.
218 Cooper, Sean. "Ambiant Otaku." allmusic. http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wzfqxqyhldse.
219 SEAMUS. "SEAMUS National Conference." http://www.seamusonline.org/conference.html.
220Choi Kyong M. kyongmeechoi.com.
SEAMUS. "The ASCAP/SEAMUS Student Commission." http://www.seamusonline.org/ascap.html
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 37

Choi, at the time, was nearing the completion of a DMA at the University of Illinois at

Urbana-Champaign. The same year, Choi became faculty at Roosevelt University.221 She was

commissioned twice previously to make electronic pieces.222 Choi has been an active electronic

music composer since 1998.223 Her works are often multimedia and often interactive. Choi is a

classically trained musician, but seeks new areas such as visual notation.224 She is also trained

as a painter.

Choi's opening program notes on It Only Needs To Be Seen:

This piece is inspired by the Steve Hagen's saying, "Truth does not need any
explanation. It only needs to be seen. The only way we can be free in each
moment is to become what the moment is." I want audience to experience to
be the moment through the stream of sound that does not need explanation
but only needs to be heard.225

The piece has eventful and calm moments, as well as a fade in at the beginning and fade

out near the end. However, as the program notes suggestion, there is no particular form

otherwise to the piece. Choi uses advanced electronic processing techniques, but uses them in

such a way they that they stay close to the guitar sound. The composer uses spatial techniques

to her advantage consistently throughout the piece. Perhaps the most notable processing

technique is pitch sliding, which naturally agrees with the guitar's innate abilities. Granular

synthesis is also demonstrated in the piece. One reviewer notes:

221 Roosevelt University. "Kyong Mee Choi." http://ccpa.roosevelt.edu/faculty-detail.php?faculty_id=111.


222 Choi Kyong M. kyongmeechoi.com.
223 Choi Kyong M. kyongmeechoi.com.
224Tisano, Theresa S. "Interview with Notations 21 Composer, Kyong Mee Choi." Notations 21. http://
notations21.wordpress.com/kyong-mee-choi/
225 SEAMUS Vol. 17. CD. 1998. Booklet.
The gestural interplay between the guitar and accompaniment is evocative and
well balanced. --Ross Feller226

When asked in interview about her experience as a modern female electronic music

composer, Choi responded:

I never felt rejected because I was female. But, often times, females are just
not exposed enough to the environment or equipment that is required for
electronic music. If anything, I might call it a mental barrier for women to
transcend. More or less, as a woman creating electronic music, I feel more
appreciated by the music because not as many women are doing what I do.
This way, more female students can be exposed to my work, and see electronic
music as an option.227

Conclusion

Looking at these pieces, the question comes to mind: what do these masterpieces have in

common? Outside of using electronic equipment, there is no answer to this question. If

anything, diversity is the single most prominent theme throughout this paper. Masterpieces

come in all sorts of lengths, from different kinds of people, different places, all with completely

different ideas. There is, then, no defined way to making it to the quality level of these pieces.

The entire history of electronic music cannot be represented completely by fourteen

pieces, but hopefully this paper has served to show how some of the greatest accomplishments

have been conceived and produced. I also hope that this more focused approached has served

to be more interesting than the typical temporally oriented approach to electronic music history.

226 Feller, Ross. "Various: Music from SEAMUS, Volume 17." Computer Music Journal (2008): 78-80.
227Tisano, Theresa S. "Interview with Notations 21 Composer, Kyong Mee Choi." Notations 21. http://
notations21.wordpress.com/kyong-mee-choi/
Heis, Fourteen Masterpieces of Electronic Music 39

Recommended

Highly recommended:
• Listening to the pieces.
>> What electronic music is all about.
• Holmes, Thom. Electronic and Experimental Music. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008.
>> The most comprehensive, inclusive, and focused history available on electronic music.
Includes useful timelines and recommended listenings.

Also recommended:
• d'Escrivan, Julio. The Cambridge Companion to Electronic Music. New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2007.
>> A unique article based approach, includes some topics not regularly mentioned in
electronic music.

Recommended with reservations:


• Manning, Peter. Electronic and Computer Music. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press,
2004.
>> Excellent and detailed until the 1980s, after which few people are mentioned and no
pieces are included.
• Chadabe, Joel. Electric Sound: The Past and Promise of Electronic Music. New York: Prentice
Hall, 1996.
>> While an interesting read, unfortunately has an east coast American bias.
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