In memory of Herb Deutsch, what better than to listen to his charming voice intoning a series of sound design experiments with tape and synthesizers, followed by some very out-there 70s musical creations from the composer.
We’re fortunate to have easier access to music technology, but the 70s was something of a golden age for synth publishing. It was the decade that saw the birth of Keyboard (nee Contemporary Keyboard) magazine, plus serious tomes on everything from patching modular to building your own guitar pedals, from the likes of Allen Strange and Craig Anderton. Bob Moog and Wendy Carlos were regular bylines. And from Herb Deutsch, there was this gem: Synthesis: An Introduction to the History, Theory & Practice of Electronic Music.
Maybe it’s time to just start a new podcast rather than another YouTube channel, because the record that came alongside this book is brilliant. It’s just Herb suggesting some basic tape etudes (like, hey, you could try changing speed or reversing, huh?) – and then some reversed gongs, chipmunk-style speech, and a bunch of weird tape music compositions and some classical-ish and one very funky, quirky tune at the end.
It’s remarkable for its range – from musique concrete to chorale to lounge.
Thanks to Maurice for the tip:
The book is out of print, but it of course a reprint would be a tough sell. Maybe it’s better to just make new things.
Here, surely, is a spirit that can live on. Electronic music doesn’t have to be made by or for machine learning algorithms. It doesn’t need to come from sound packs and pre-mapped tonalities that make sure you sound like everyone else. It doesn’t have to conform to western concert tuning. It can be the voice of anyone with imagination and up for experimentation. It can have a recognizable interface like a keyboard, or it can be totally abstract, or anything in between. Sound technology is capable of making any sound you want – and the synthesis of that is a joy in itself. RIP, Herb.