(Roughly) Daily

“A nice blend of prediction and surprise seem to be at the heart of the best art”*…

Walter, later Wendy, Carlos was a pioneer of electronic music, a collaborator with Robert Moog in developing the Moog Synthesizer that changed music forever (among other things, she convinced Moog to add a touch-sensitive device, allowing greater musical dynamics) and a performer/recording artist who popularized the instrument. In 1970, she did an explainer for the BBC…

We can break popular music into two periods: before the Moog and after the Moog. Upon its debut in 1964, that synthesizer made a big splash in the small but long-established electronic-music world by, among other innovative qualities, being smaller than an entire room. Over the next few years, inventor Bob Moog (whose previous line was in theremins) refined his eponymous brainchild to the point that it became accessible to composers not already on the cutting edge of music technology. But for Wendy Carlos, the cutting edge of music technology was where she’d spent most of her life; hence her ability to create the first bestselling all-Moog album, 1968’s Switched-On Bach

She even plays a bit of the second movement of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #4, Carlos’ rendition of which on Switched-On Bach‘s follow-up The Well-Tempered Synthesizer moved no less an authority than Glenn Gould to call it “the finest performance of any of the Brandenburgs — live, canned, or intuited — I’ve ever heard.”…

A titan of electronic music breaks it down: “Wendy Carlos Demonstrates the Moog Synthesizer on the BBC (1970),” from Colin Marshall (@colinmarshall) in @openculture.

* Wendy Carlos

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As we plug in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that Chuck Berry recorded “Roll Over Beethoven” for Chess Records. It was released the following month and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and number 29 on the pop chart. “Roll Over Beethoven” is one of the most widely covered songs in popular music – “a staple of rock and roll bands”, according to Cub Koda of AllMusic– with famous versions by Jerry Lee Lewis, the Beatles, Carl Perkins, and Electric Light Orchestra. In 2003 it was was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

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