The story of electronic music started with the invention of the microphone and magnetic tape and reached artificial intelligence in less than a hundred years time. We are talking about a massive series of evolutions that shaped and changed the face of music forever. The kind of electronic music I represent goes back to the times of futurist Luigi Russolo, who wrote his manifesto “L’arte dei rumori” as early as 1913. The French composer Pierre Schaeffer then proclaimed the idea of musique concrète during the late forties in Paris. And last but not least, Karlheinz Stockhausen started composing at Studio für Elektronische Musik in Cologne during the fifties.
These people laid the foundation for everything I have been doing since. By inventing the concept of musique concrète, Schaeffer created the theory of electronic music and should be eternally praised for that. He was the one who defined music’s single most important evolutionary step in the 20th century by saying that there can be music beyond notation and sheet music. He basically introduced the idea that concrete sounds should also be considered music. Music is sound. That was his message. And as we all know, this concept changed the shape of music fundamentally. Every electronic musician, every composer and DJ is a sound designer nowadays and thus a descendent of Pierre Schaeffer.
Of course, the development of technology eventually helped achieve this vision. But back then the idea of a musician who, like an artist painting colors on canvas, can invent his own music, was still in the realm of fantasy. Proclaiming sounds as music was a revolution in itself. After that the digital revolution, the computer and the binary code, did not only change and accelerate our daily lives but also the world of music and composition immensely.
I see and try out new instruments and new technologies, new plug-ins and new software whenever they are introduced to the market – and more often than not I can use it even before. The beautiful thing about this ongoing evolution is that the ‘old’ instruments that I used when I started more than forty years ago have not become obsolete in the meantime. They still have their very own, specific sound qualities. This goes for the EMS synthesizers, as it is valid for the Stradivarius violin. Nobody has yet built a better violin. Different, yes, but better?
In that sense, the pioneer Peter Zinovieff comes to mind. He invented the VCS 3 synthesizer in 1969 – a true breakthrough. People like him opened the doors towards new concepts of composition. The same could be said about the Roland TB-303 invented by Japanese engineer Tadao Kikumoto. The whole acid house movement was built on the sounds that you could squeeze out of this little Pandora’s box. All of these inventors – and we also have to name Robert Moog in this context as the godfather of the synthesizer – were active in the golden years of the 20th century, from 1950 and 1970. They were the true inventors of electronic instruments because before them there was nothing, except for the Church organ that many consider the first precursor of a sound-producing machine. Before that you had pieces of wood with strings mounted on them or drums covered with hides that you could bang on.