image When did you make your first electronic composition? Andrew Cordani points us to a find on WFMU’s Beware of the Blog — a CD compiling high school students (and a seventh grader, in the first example) composing electronic music between 1968 and 1984. Brian Turner at WFMU notes that right now the way to get it is via Meat Beat Manifesto’s tour (the compilation is the work of Jack Dangers), but here are some youthful blips and bleeps in the meantime:

Randy Kaplan “Emission-Embossment” (MP3)
David Brown “Willy Reverb” (MP3)
Kenneth Ranales “Mind Clash” (MP3)
Beth Bolton/Mag Johnson “Vietnam-Love It Or Leave It” (MP3)

High School Pierre Schaeffers [Beware of the Blog — great headline, Brian!]

WFMU’s (and Engadget’s) Trent Wolbe also has a write-up of last week’s Tenori-On event, for a take on it from a different angle. Photo below by Trent.


For a walk down when-we-were-younger lane, got any youthful creations of your own? Went to high school between ’68 and ’84? In high school now (expect some of you are)?

  • ERS

    I have a bunch of my early stuff on 4-track reels (mixed down quadraphonically), but no way to play them

  • lematt

    max/msp 5 max/msp 5 max/msp 5 max/msp 5 max/msp 5 max/msp 5 max/msp 5 max/msp 5 max/msp 5max/msp 5

  • I started high school in '84. Somewhere I may still have some Tascam 4-track recordings on cheap cassettes of my electronic experiments from then, but I'm not sure I want to bother listening to them now. 🙂

  • I started making electronic music on tape in my senior year of high school, 70-71. I have only one fragment left from that time, which I don't consider to be a real composition, but I'll see if I can resurrect it.

  • Well, judging by the first few comments, the question at the beginning is not rhetorical (or if it is, at least I'll blend in with my fellow narcissists).

    Early 1980s, late middle school or early high school, Commodore 64, writing sequences in raw BASIC, using a relatively simple FOR NEXT loop and line after line of DATA statements for the pitch info. I wish I'd saved the results, especially considering everything else I've saved.

  • llamastorm

    Nothing that cool or that dated, but qbasic's really limited PLAY and SOUND support was fun to do background music and sound effects with. I think kids suffer today because current technology tends to make experimentation like that less accessible (yeah, I know, processing, something something) and all the 3D games people are used to are already flashy out of the box. You don't get the feel of "You know, I could make a better frogger".

  • @llamastorm — true, but then, current technology has given us that perspective. It's given us a sense of scale. So we see Frogger in that light now — and, as it happens, if you want to code Frogger, it *is* easier than it used to be. I think a lot of kids today would take you up on that challenge.

  • llamastorm

    my point was that today people feel they have to make a better Quake — which is itself much less accessible, and that the tools available to build simple fun things have grown more complex — if only by a factor of 3 or so. You no longer get basic just "installed" and don't have the simple access to DOS modes. It's a culture thing, things get commercialized and enterprisey. What would happen if all Playstations came with a free simple development kit? Alas poor mode 13h. In other news: Hey you whippersnappers, get off my lawn.

  • @llamastorm … no, I agree, totally. Yeah, Mac OS comes with, uh, Xcode, but that's not exactly Hypercard or BASIC. On the other hand, some of those tools are there if you want them. You can still write BASIC. You can use LOGO (reborn as netlogo, built in Java). So, in other words, unlike many of the things we've lost, since this is all bits and bytes, there's nothing stopping kids from playing with these things. We do have all these additional possible solutions, but then, that's the job of educators to put that stuff up in front of people. (I had BASIC on my first machine; didn't necessarily know what to DO with it, though!)

  • My dad was a TV engineer in the 60s and 70s, so he had allsorts of circuit testers and oscilloscopes and other bits of junk that I could mess around round and make odd bleeps and sinewave wails! first synth in about 1980 – a Casio MT31 recorded onto a Phillips hi-fi. Recently, I've found myself going back to all my old gear to make some new tunes with it. I put one of my tracks from about 1984 on my blog, so have a listen if you dare!

    This is the Mood I'm in (by mistrust) – more info at

  • @mistrust: excellent. Totally excellent.

  • @Peter Kirn:


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  • ScottFlavin

    I'm still in high school and, with my extremely limited budget, I have been attempting to create electronic music for a couple of years now. This site has helped me out in so many ways by not only introducing me to innovative approaches to music creating electronic music, but most importantly providing me with free music apps. I'm almost done with my senior year and my many partially finished songs are coming to a closure. Nothing to share now but just a reminder that there ARE high-schoolers that have this site set as their homepage! You're my hero Peter Kirn! (as well as the rest of you guys at cdm!)