Thursday, December 20, 2012


Imagine a world where sound-making was limited to lab equipment like the above audio test oscillator, an equalizer for tone control,  a white noise generator,  and an LFO.  Welcome to the late 1950's and 1960's,  when electronic musicians had only these rudimentary tools for producing and modulating sound.  Arrangements were done on tape,  and were surely as tedious as one could imagine.  Please notice the plethora of test oscillators that comprise Simeon (top),  an enormous instrument constructed and used by the band Silver Apples (1st album produced in 1969). Their music could certainly be called "garage electronica" for lack of a better term. For musicians not concerned with pitch (and an ever drifting oscillator),  other choices slowly become available in the form of commercially available synths like Moog modular (rather forbidding in scale and price),  and my favorite,  the EML 200 (1969),  a portable collection of oscillators,  ring modulators,  an LFO,  noise generator,  spring reverb,  sample and hold,  high and low pass filters,  wave shaper,  etc.  In other words,  this was and is,  a user friendly array of synth modules wrapped up in a compact package. And by the clinical look of it,  not very far removed from the lab... nice.

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