Fifty years of computers in music

Thanks to this dynamic duo of geniuses in their own right, we have unraveled the minutia of musical sound. It hearkened a whole new era of music.

This was the first song we ever heard on the radio using the MOOG Synthesizer.

It should not be lost on anyone how much of a role computers play in today’s world of music composition and production from artist to audience. Today’s computers have massive hard drives and can store many hours worth of high quality live audio which can then be mixed down to a finished stereo recording. A small investment on a user’s part would put the software to do this on their laptop.

What single scientific discipline does this fall under? It overlaps a lot of _ologies when we begin to explore it. Now the question is how do we apply the disciplines we learn here to the real world in settings such as this?


Segue, only to exude on the advent of progressive rock in light of the above. Rick Wakeman had all this new technology at his disposal, and Yes had the money to pay for it. This album, if one gives it full listen, has a full display of the kinds of musical influence the synthesizer had.


One would need to realize that at this time we did not have digital delay or anything digital as such. This was the transition phase, electronically. And in recording. They recorded with a state of the art 24 track recorder that itself presented with lots of technical difficulties.

The common form of delay, also relatively new, was the shift register. As many impediments you could throw at this current within a feedback loop, you did. It meant that the signal arrived later than normal and could be repeated at like time intervals. Thus we have delay and echo both achieved in analog fashion. The computer changed all this.

Much of the circuit logic was unchanged, at first, with the introduction of RAM. Now true digital delay was possible. Start with an array N elements long and make all the values travel through the entire array. By clock standards, the signal arrives later than expected. Digital delay.

With the speeds that clocks run at today, and with multi-core processor OS’s none of these complexities is a problem today. So much is possible on a single laptop, it simply blows my mind.


That last one was a bit gratuitous. I admit. Kind of like this one,

Look for effects throughout that are electronic, or near digital This was the cutting edge.

The Hammond B3 was synthesized. Blow to Hammond, and the Leslie speakers they supported.


Very cool!!
Admittedly, I don’t know much Yes or ELP, but, I should.

For me, when I think of synthesizers and computers in music I always think of Brian Eno and Roxy Music or, David Sylvian (solo stuff) & Japan. Or, even bands like Duran Duran b/c their keyboardist always had a stack of synths and artists like Thomas Dolby. Bands that are classified as “New Romantic” or “Glam” or, “Art Rock” maybe.

All very cool stuff.

Now I’ve got some music to listen to…:slight_smile:


When you mention him, it’s less his music that comes to mind, but his role as a producer, along with Daniel Lanois. U2’s, Joshua Tree was co-produced by the duo, as well as a couple others as I recall.

TBH, I was not the biggest fan of electronic music though I did have a fair collection of albums, including Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, and others. Most of the stuff was coming from Europe and not getting any radio air time so one just took a gamble ordering from the pink pages (imports) of the record catalog. Can’t count how many albums I had long before they appeared in North America, David Bowie, Yes, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath among them.

Speaking of Pink Floyd, which got going around 1964, the late Richard Wright made use of the synthesizer (a MiniMoog) on the, Wish You Were Here album.


Yessssssssssssssssssssss!! Love a bit of “One Take” Wakeman! :+1:

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Awesome stuff, thanks for posting :slight_smile:

Electronic/computer music is super interesting - it’s fascinating to think back on the time where ‘recording’ something or ‘putting an effect’ on something was an actually physical process, even if working with computers. A lot of the guys you’ve linked took inspiration from some of the following:

To name a few.


I sometimes forget he produced so much.
The imports section of my local record stores in Ann Arbor were always my first stop…though, I was looking for Duran Duran, Japan, Depeche Mode imports and other more obscure Brit “new wave” bands. I remember when the band Asia was popular and I really loved them–not knowing the music histories of the band members(!).
It was only later on in my life that I came to really appreciate what I guess is classified as “Prog Rock” and I’ve only been investigating/listening to it for the past few years. There’s a LOT that I need to take the time to listen to for sure. I really like older Genesis stuff w/Peter Gabriel (Trespass, Foxtrot, Nursery Cryme, Selling England by the Pound, etc).

This is all such great music. :headphones:


One forgets how far back the influences actually were. 1956? It didn’t get much radio air time, but we only need to go down the list of the thousands of movie soundtracks of the fifties and sixties. Great post.


Wow, I had no idea that electronic music goes back to the 60s. I assumed it started in the 80s w/ electronic guitars and keyboards then autotune, FL Studio in the 90s . . .

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Composer Morton Subotnik (Silver Apples of the Moon 1967) helped create the Buchla 100 one of the first modular synthesizers in the early 60’s.
In 1967 on their 4th album The Monkees used a Moog synthesizer on their song “Daily Nightly”.
It was the first use of a Moog synthesizer in popular music.