What Influenced Electronic Music?

In the 1920s, instruments like the Theremin were first invented – producing its unique, haunting tone by oscillating electrical signals. Magnetic audio tape allowed musicians to edit sounds together into musique concrete pieces.

Wendy Carlos’ Switched-On Bach is widely considered to be one of the first pure electronic compositions. Synth pop reached its pinnacle during this era with artists like Ultravox and Gary Numan becoming pioneers.

The invention of the telharmonium

Thaddeus Cahill created his Telharmonium in 1896 – the world’s first electrical musical generator capable of creating music and distributing it over telephone networks – using electricity alone to do both tasks. Cahill is often credited with inventing Muzak. Cahill’s machine used multiple cogs that produced different pitches controlled by an organ-style keyboard with various keys and pedals; partial harmonics for each fundamental could also be altered so as to mimic orchestral instruments by combining harmonics together into complex orchestral instruments – making its sound similar to organ pipes or brass instruments – an early addition synthesiser indeed!

The Telharmonium was an enormous instrument which required large electric generators that consumed massive amounts of power, interfering with telephone lines with its incongruously sweet yet haunting murmurs, disrupting calls at times. Furthermore, running it was extremely costly; its staggering amount of energy consumption required enough power for an entire city’s lighting. Furthermore, this instrument would often cause power surges which caused havoc within its network of telephone connections.

After some initial success, the Telharmonium quickly fell out of favor and eventually disappeared into obscurity. Its last known working model stopped functioning in 1916 before being disassembled and sold off as scrap metal. Today only grainy photos and contemporary accounts remain to record its history.

Even though the Telharmonium never became commercially successful, it played an instrumental part in shaping electronic music history. It serves as a testament to how innovative technologies can disrupt established musical practices; some musicians viewed its invention with suspicion while others welcomed it as a means to break down barriers between different styles of music.

As electronic music progressed, new devices emerged that allowed for the creation of experimental timbres without extensive wiring or massive iron tone wheels. Karlheinz Stockhausen composed Mikrophonie I using tam-tams, hand-held microphones and potentiometers; John Cage composed his Imaginary Landscape No.1 using two variable speed turntables along with frequency recordings, muted piano notes and cymbals – an example being Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie I.

The invention of the record player

The record player is an essential piece of music technology, enabling people to listen to songs at any speed while also controlling how fast or slowly their recordings play back. It has played an instrumental role in many popular musical genres such as electronic dance music.

In 1895, record players known as gramophones were first made available to the public. Although radio became more prevalent over time, gramophones remained an appealing choice well into the 1930s.

At this time, record producers conducted numerous experiments with different materials to increase recording quality and make discs more durable for further use. Vulcanite and later shellac were both utilized. Finally, records were pressed onto vinyl for continued usage.

By the late 1940s, recording industry was in turmoil due to the Great Depression, leading to decreased record and turntable sales and early use of tapes by composers in Paris to compose their music; this technique became known as musique concrete and consisted of editing recorded fragments of natural and industrial sound into one audio track.

In the 1960s, record players began being combined with other components to form combination home systems, such as radios, amplifiers and speakers. Furthermore, electric guitars and drums saw increased manufacturing as did electric guitars and drums manufactured since the invention of synthesizers in the 70s which led to synth-pop music heavily influenced by British bands Ultravox Duran Duran Depeche Mode among others.

DJ culture opened a whole new era for record players during the 1980s. Instead of simply playing music, they were used to mix and scratch records instead – producing an entirely different sound that revolutionised modern music culture. Meanwhile, digital technology like CDs and DVDs replaced vinyl records; as well as computer software for producing electronic music composition and production such as Ableton Live digital audio workstation.

The invention of the tape recorder

The introduction of tape recorders marked a turning point in electronic music history. They enabled artists to store and playback an array of sounds, while musicians experimented with various combinations of instruments. Furthermore, this innovation revolutionised recording and broadcast techniques; its creation even helped shape many genres’ development.

In the 1960s, several artists began to incorporate electronic equipment into their music. One such group was British’s Radiophonic Workshop which gained notoriety for creating sci-fi film soundtracks with Delia Derbyshire as one of its members and famous for creating Mellotron keyboard instrument which could be played both manually or with theremin.

Thaddeus Cahill of America was another pioneer. His telharmonium used rotary generators and telephone receivers to convert electrical signals to sound. While its experiments ultimately failed, they still served as important precursors of today’s electronic instruments as well as contributing towards developing concepts such as waveforms and loudspeakers.

Important developments in electronic music’s history included amplitude modulation (AM) and phase-locked loops (PLL). AM allowed for simultaneous transmission and reception of multiple audio channels over one wire; PLL provided synchronization among multiple electronic devices. These innovations led to the invention of digital synthesizers – key components of modern electronic music.

After the invention of the tape recorder, European composers such as Werner Heisenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Pierre Schaeffer began using it in their compositions. Schaeffer often employed musique concrete; Stockhausen and Heisenberg employed more abstract styles inspired by acoustic and electronic sounds as well as serial composition, which relies on rhythms and ordered groups of pitches.

Synthesizers became a staple of pop and rock music during the 1970s. Many prominent artists such as Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet utilized synthesizers extensively in their songs; other notable electronic acts at that time included A Flock of Seagulls, Culture Club and Talk Talk. Furthermore, due to MIDI standard development allowing easier creation of pure electronic sounds; synthpop became an era dominated by synthesizer-led sounds.

The invention of the synthesizer

At the start of the 1960s, a few individuals began experimenting with sound synthesis, with different individuals having different objectives in mind for their inventions. Although we cannot know with precision exactly what each inventor had in mind for his or her inventions, some common goals can be presumed. Avant-garde composers were exploring radical new sonic and musical languages while those taking more pragmatic approaches focused on recreating traditional instruments electronically such as violin, cello, piano or clarinet sounds electronically – hence why patch examples and presets on synthesizers at this time often included examples and presets named according to particular instrument sounds such as violin cello cello piano clarinet etc.

As such, synthesizers became instruments that not only mimicked traditional instruments’ sounds but allowed musicians to control and manipulate compositions in entirely novel ways. Milton Babbitt, Otto Luening, Charles Wuorinen and other composers who created electronic soundscapes inspired bands like Pink Floyd and the Doors to take up synthesizers as an expressive musical medium.

Notable during this era was how disciplines experienced an unprecedented convergence, especially within Fluxus movement, which often blurred visual and sound art boundaries. Artists like Luigi Russolo (originally a painter), went on to have an immense influence over contemporary music.

As synthesizer technology developed, its accessibility increased for everyone. Artists such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Rush famously integrated synthesizers into their works to lay down the foundation for what would later become rock music as we know it today.

The advent of synthesizers allowed many musicians to experiment with soundscapes that were both melodic and immersive, leading to genres like krautrock with its combination of harsh machine noise with textural depth, and new-age with its combination of rich acoustic instrumentation with ambient melodies and ambient effects.

In the 1980s, synthesizers became more widespread among artists such as Jean-Michel Jarre, who used them in works such as Oxygene and Equinoxes to win international acclaim. Acts like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry also started reinventing industrial music by merging harsh machine sounds with emotional or narrative depth.