Archive for synthesizers

Kraft & Alexander “Tchaikovsky: 1812/Nutcracker Suite”

Posted in music with tags , , , on July 20, 2010 by motorslug
Kraft & Alexander "Tchaikovsky"
Kraft & Alexander | Tchaikovsky: 1812/Nutcracker Suite | London | 1977

This was a fluke find in a recent record show dollar bin– I grabbed it solely on the mention of Arp synthesizers. As it turns out, I would put this album up against any Tomita or Carlos recording, it’s that good. I originally put it on while I was filing away recent finds, but soon abandoned my work to give this LP my full attention. Truly striking. Here’s the text from the back of the jacket, as well as both sides of this wonderful record:

“As far back as history can trace, the sounds from all musical instruments have been created acoustically. A string, a piece of metal, a wooden reed, a stretched membrane, or the air enclosed in a tube was set into vibration by energy supplied by the player, and sound waves resulted. For thousands of years no new methods of producing musical sounds were discovered. Then, with the advent of electronic instruments during the first decade of this century, there were instruments whose vibrations originated not as the motion of air particles, but as electronic impulses.

Probably the first of these instruments was the Telharmonium, an invention of the American scientist Thaddeus Cahill. The Telharmonium produced musical sounds in a telephone receiver from the rotation of toothed wheels near the poles of electro-magnets. The Telharmonium had a short life– it interfered with phone service and weighed several tons. The next step in the development of electronic music occurred during the late twenties, when various kinds of vacuum tube instruments were introduced, all working under the general principle of electronic oscillation. The most important of these instruments were the Theremin and the Ondes Martenot. The Ondes Martenot achieved the greatest prominence (more than 30 composers, including Honegger, Milhaud, and Messiaen, wrote works for, or included, this instrument). By the late forties, and continuing through the early sixties, a great deal of research in computer-programmed music was conducted at R.C.A. and the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. Many of the most “avant-garde” composers such as Varese, Babbitt, Cage, Berio, and Stockhausen wrote works for these computers.

The early sixties saw the culmination of this rapid progression in the development of electronic instruments when Robert Moog introduced the first modern synthesizer. The synthesizer might well turn out to be the most important musical instrument ever, considering that there are absolutely no limits as to the variety of sounds that it can produce. This feat is possible due to the fact that any sound can be analyzed and broken down into its particular wave form. And any wave form can be duplicated by the synthesizer. Of course, the Columbia-Princeton and R.C.A. computers also worked on this principle, but only one note at a time could be created, which meant that it took an immense amount of time to create just a few seconds of complicated music. What Robert Moog did was to replace the computer with a keyboard, which permitted live performances on the synthesizer, at least of one musical line at a time. In a studio, then, the synthesizer performer could record a line of music, then record a second musical line on a second track, then a third line… et cetera. In the more densely orchestrated sections on this album, more than 200 individual tracks of synthesizer information were utilized to build a sound with a depth, power and variety of tonal textures equal to and greater than a full symphony orchestra.

All this and the synthesizer is still in its adolescence.”

Produced by Larry Alexander and Jack Kraft.
Keyboards performed by Jack Kraft.
Record Engineer Larry Alexander.
Synthesizer Programming Kraft & Alexander.

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