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The demise of Keyboard Magazine, after 41 years

Keyboard Magazine will cease to exist as a publication, after having been continuously published since 1975. And this isn’t just another “print is dead” footnote. Keyboard was the publication that defined commercial writing about electronic musical instruments. And whatever the logic behind the decision, the demise of Keyboard says something about the state of both publishing and electronic music production – and its absence will be felt. Keyboard will be rolled into Electronic Musician, with only the EM name surviving. Gino Robair will continue as editor-in-chief of EM. This is truly the end of an era – an era Keyboard …

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Grieving for Oakland’s lost, imagining what comes next

“Community” is a word we use too much, until it doesn’t mean anything. “The dance music community.” “The electronic music community.” And then in extreme moments, it’s a word whose meaning again becomes plain. That was the sense for a lot of people over the weekend, as news rippled of the people lost in Oakland. Friends grieve their friends and lovers. They grieve lost role models and sources of music and inspiration. These events touch people who were intimate — and touch people who were strangers. A person you played with once, a person you heard once … or your …

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Pauline Oliveros, who transformed how we listen and think

This year continues a stunning series of losses of some of the most important pioneers in electronic music. But of all those, Pauline Oliveros is without peer – an innovator in the art of listening itself. And we’ve learned she’s died at the age of 84. No one else in music has a resume like hers. She was capable of turning the accordion into an avant garde electronic instrument. She had a black belt in karate. She was one of the original members of the San Francisco Tape Center, a defining figure in the entire west coast electronic scene. She …

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Jean-Claude Risset, who reimagined digital synthesis, has died

We’re in a strange time, as we big farewell to a great generation of pioneers of electronic music. French composer Jean-Claude Risset’s work can still tickle our perception and challenge what’s possible. He helped expand the frontiers of what digital synthesis can do for our ears, and brought the technology to the European continent. And this week, he left us at the age of 78. The sound for which Risset is best known is perhaps the most emblematic of his contributions. Creating a sonic illusion much like M.C. Escher’s optical ones, the Shepherd-Risset glissando / Risset scale, in its present …

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Photo: Randy Yau, via Barry Threw on Flickr.

In memory of Jean-Jacques Perrey

Soon after the loss of Don Buchla, another legend of synthesis has passed away. Jean-Jacques Perrey died last week. Perrey was a master of whimsy and invention. He’s of course best known for his collaboration with Gershon Kingsley, “Baroque Hoedown,” featured in Disney’s Electric Light Parade. But that’s emblematic of a broader contribution: he’s one of the leading pioneers of the 20th Century in introducing the sounds of electronic synthesis to a mass audience, with noises heard from Sesame Street to TV ads. Here’s the master composer playing his own best-known tune: It’s also notable that, like Bob Moog, Perrey …

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Electronic music pioneer Don Buchla has died

We all have a short time on this planet, and some of us are lucky enough to get to work on tools that people use to make music. You can count on your fingers the number of people who had the kind of influence that Don Buchla had on electronic music in the last century. And this week, at age 79, he’s left us.

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Remembering Keith Emerson and his titanic synth legacy

In news reverberating with synthesizer lovers and keyboardists everywhere, Keith Emerson died last night in his home in Santa Monica at age 71. Mr. Emerson’s impact on the world of keyboards and synthesizers is hard to overstate. And that impact may be wider now than ever before. If the musical idiom in which he worked was distinctive attached to its particular era, the role of the synthesizer he helped establish is one that now reaches around the world to artists across genres.

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Remembering David Bowie’s legacy, in videos

There are artists who are remembered for their cultural impact, for the power of their identities or their musical output. But David Bowie always struck me as one of those few larger-than-life personalities whose sheer force of productivity was staggering itself. From the tiniest details of a stage production to ground-breaking concepts in fashion to an exhaustive approach to studio work, Bowie was king of workaholics. He was a person who made, and made some more. If he had done so in total obscurity and you happened to unearth the output of his imagination, you would be staggered. And everything …

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50WEAPONS, Legendary Techno Label, Just Announced It’s Dead

50WEAPONS, the iconic techno label from Berlin known to be a home to major releases from the likes of Cosmin TRG, Modeselektor, Falty DL, Benjamin Damage, Marcel Dettmann, Phon.o, announced without explanation that it’s dead, via a video posted to Facebook (and now, YouTube). There’s even, ominously, a gravestone. The “50” in 50WEAPONS is 50 releases. And they weren’t kidding. #rip50weapons [Facebook post] It’s not a great time to be a label. Vinyl purchases are up, but production is backlogged and still requires capital. Download outlets are seeing major consolidation, with DJ-facing giant Beatport swallowed up into EDM festival ticket-pushing …

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Watch James Horner Play Piano, Talk Overnight ‘Aliens’ Climax

On a very personal note, I’m saddened this week to learn of the news of the death of the great film composer James Horner. See him talk about his approach to scoring Field of Dreams at top for some of his approach. Best of all, you get to see him at the piano. When I was a kid, Horner was one of the people who inspired me to investigate composition. I was entranced with the sweeping romanticism of the Star Trek II score that was his big break – an aching, yearning, but dreamy vision of the future, filled with …

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