In case you’ve missed it, the project opens like this: “Bleep’s Guide to Electronic Music starts on 25th March, 1857 – the day Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville receives French patent #17,897/31,470 for the phonautograph.”
The Facebook Timeline may seem just a tool for naval-gazing or privacy violation. But then, suddenly, you’re dialing back to the mid-19th Century, and tracing the history of electronic music.
Animating smoothly through the decades, you can trace electronic music’s great achievements, from the Martenot to King Tubby and Silver Apples, on through to Aphex Twin and labels like Hyperdub, each popping up each time you click a date. It’s a surprisingly useful gimmick, and a fun way to navigate and relive history even for those who know it well.
Bleep, the terrific online electronic sound boutique, deserves credit for re-imagining Facebook. True to form, they’ve got the music to back it up. The though of compiling 55 tracks to trace history from the 1930s to today sounds utterly terrifying, but they’ve done it nicely, a kind of downloadable electronic musicology course you could imagine cropping up in a college class or making a must-have for every digital collection. Since the challenge here was intelligently leaving things out, the smattering of landmarks they do choose stands out in a richly-diverse selection. The work of Messiaen, Schaeffer, and Cage lead to Daphne Oram and Morton Subotnick and Xenakis. Throbbing Gristle and Coldcut, Fennesz and SND bring us to the present day. In fact, one does notice the gradual shift away from academic and classical/concert scenes – one I think is fair. (Quite a few of those latter-day artists do share that training, however.)
But while every single selection is up for debate, it’s fantastic to see history animated in our digital musical age. It’s proof that the download-and-stream era need not forget its history – even on Facebook.
Navigate the timeline on Facebook:
Bleep’s Guide to Electronic Music, Facebook Timeline
…and then give the compilation a listen: