Monday, June 14, 2010

Making Electronic Music

Another one of my favorite records. Except this one is also a book. I love it when textbooks come with companion demonstration records -- in this case a double 45. The Scholastic Book and Record series got me hooked on this when I was a little kid. I wish the publishing houses would revive this ancient audio-visual format. I also love the idea of teachers cueing up scratchy vinyl records as learning tools in the classroom. There's something séance-like about everybody leaning in to listen, consulting the same cryptic mechanical oracle. Here is a picture of the accompanying book (click to enlarge). Such a beautiful sleeve and book jacket. The stock institutional graphics, the pageboy hair, the suggestion of an outer space control panel. The book is actually extremely user-friendly considering its subject matter. "You are about to join the growing band of people who are entitled to call themselves electronic musicians," Terence Dwyer writes. There's even a list of necessary supplies: a splicing block, jointing tape, razor blade, coloured leader tape (red, green and white), and yellow chinagraph pencil.

The companion 45s provide fodder to be spliced and manipulated in student exercises described in the book. But they stand quite well as mini-albums in their own right, kind of like Broadcast's Microtronics mini-CDs or a Georges Teperino/Cecil Leuter library record on some obscure French imprint like TVMusic. I'm not sure if it's Dwyer or his students who "realise" these sounds. Whoever it is comes up with four sides worth of surprisingly polished wibbly wobbly concrète miniatures. Check out these two tracks: "Material 17" and "Example O".

And to round out the AV experience here are some photos from the book. How cool are these kids? I love the weird heiroglyphics and captions: "Ready to Go"... "The final preparation in a complex piece".


  1. Great post. A download link would be welcome on these shores.

  2. totally fab! have you ever come across any of F.C. Judds' books or records?
    there's a nice example of his Practical Electronics flexi here..

  3. Real marvy: I'll never forget music class in my hippy elementary school: Stone Bridge, "where we build briges instead of walls". Teacher once showed a film strip about "The Synthesizer" which featured bits from Clockwork Orange and, of all things, the Rockford Files theme. This brought back those memories and more: thanks for posting!

  4. Woah, my teachers would have never shown a film like that. Stone Bridge has done you a good turn.

    I've seen a few F.C. Judd records, but not the Practical Electronics flexi. The title of the record in your blog is similar to another Judd record -- I wonder if it's the same record, different sleeve?

  5. no its different. the flexi features narration by Judd, whilst yours does not. incidently, this mix is peppered with extracts from the flexi, if you want to get a taste...

  6. Hi T+T, I also have this book and would very much like to reissue it and the record. Would you consider collaborating on this?