Analog Days

Analog Days – The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer

By Trevor Pinch & Frank Trocco

analog_daysFirst book to read – suggested by both supervisors.

Right up my street! I’ve had this since it came out but never got round to reading it…

Initial thoughts in relation to Michael asking me to think about the book in relation to chapters etc within my own project:

The book as a whole reads as a history (which I found a bit of a relief as I was kind of expecting to be plowing through loads of theory from the get-go…). I found it inspirational in that it showed how things progressed from the backroom hobbyist into academia. The west coast scene comes across to me the most extreme in that it began with quite a hippy mentality and then, through certain circumstances, became absorbed into academia. I enjoyed reading about the pre-academic scene; the space between the hobbyist, tinkerer, diy-ist, along with the influence within counter culture – the 60s drug scene, and can see parallels with the late ’80s and ’90s rave scene where electronic music became hugely popular. I suppose this is one of my main connecting points.

The San Francisco Tape Music Center – 1960s Counterculture and the Avant-Garde

Edited by D. W. Bernstein

tape-music-centerI found the The San Francisco Tape Music Center book after a web search (now in my reading pile along with more that I’ll add on here as time goes on).

I watched the accompanying DVD that came with this book but found myself quite bored by it and the music… I need to address this.

Back to the matter at hand, I guess you could call this section:

The Visual and Audible Aesthetic of Analog Synthesis in Cinema.

Relating my reading to chapters etc. I thought about a survey of electronic music within non-mainstream/underground/counter-culture cinema as a reflection and exploration of new modes of expression and cultural reflection between the late 1950’s and early 1970’s.
Well, not all electronic music makers will have come from a trained or academic background, some will have been exposed to electronic sounds in different contexts and this may have been their main area of inspiration.

…room for development.

I could explore the representation of analog synths in film and television (eg. from Apocalypse Now soundtrack, THX 1138, Forbidden Planet, through to physically being in the film eg. Performance, The Shout, Space is the Place, The Phantom Of The Paradise etc.)

Another area that intrigued me from the reading was, or is, the counter culture to mainstream journey .

Louis & Bebe Barron – I’ve always liked the Forbidden Planet soundtrack and that they also went on to set up a recording studio and worked with John Cage – (on Williams Mix) – this I find interesting and is something I’d like to find out more about

Other quirky facts – The Moog in Performance that Mick Jagger plays went on to become part of Tangerine Dream’s synth line up.

T.O.N.T.O. – It looks amazing and sounds nuts on the two Tonto’s Expanding Head Band albums! I guess it kind of became mainstream through its use with Stevie Wonder and as a bizzare prop in The Phantom Of The Paradise.

In another film (not mentioned in the Analog Days book) an EMS set-up – sits well alongside the wierdness of The Shout and John Hurt’s composer character.

At 5.10 in and there’s the first bit of audio fun:

…and here’s the whole film: The Shout

In Space is the Place – features as Sun Ra’s instrument

The use of these machines above, for me becomes very much about their strangeness or ‘otherworldliness’ however subtle it may be.

There is a distinct otherworldliness to the Apocalypse Now soundtrack, along with others such as The Exorcist, THX 1138, Forbidden Planet etc. along with the work of Goblin in Dario Argento’s quality horror films.

(I am not going to miss Goblin’s first UK show for 20 years at The Scala)

After a bit more idle web searching I came across and this particular thread about a Lack of Electronic Music in contemporary film scores’ , so I made a big list of older films with synths in to one extent or another, I’ll post more about that in due course.

I think the analog synth has always been, for me, a source of wonder in film.

I watched the Moog film (this was also suggested by Nick).

I also found out about a film called “What the future sounded like” which talks about similar stuff to part of the Analog Days book, it focuses on the UK synth company EMS, there’s a funny bit with Hawkwind, Dave Brock talks about how the synth helped them to make music that sounded like and made you feel as if you were on LSD.

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