arp-2500

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In this video Eliane Radigue is interviewed about her process for composing and performing electronic music. She demonstrates these techniques on an amazing ARP 2500 modular synthesizer that is installed in what looks like her front room.

In an interesting parallel with the quote from Suzanne Ciani in the previous post, she makes note of the delicacy necessary in operating these instruments, saying

It was in this way, I think, that I discovered the pleasure of a work made with the tips of the toes, or rather the fingers.

The tips of the toes is a wonderful way of describing the lightness of touch involved in operating the synthesizer, and conveys something, I think, the vitality found within the machines themselves.

She also notes that when  in terms of the positioning of the speakers when performing the piece

the sound has to fill the whole space so that each listener, wherever they may be, may feel comfortable in this musical bath

Just a perfect description, I think, of how one experiences this sort of music.  I found her description of positioning the speakers in a cross shape, rather than to the left and right of the stage really interesting, rejecting a stereo sound in order to avoid directionality of sound for the audience. This way the immersion in the ‘bath’ is pretty much equal regardless of where you’re sitting in the audience.

After describing the different stages of composition and performance Radigue then talks on a more philosophical level about the music, describing these soundscapes as a 'mental mirror’ that reflects the mood that you are in at the time. Radigue’s music is based around a slow, almost imperceptible 'unfolding’ of sound that is incredibly immersive and meditative, and it’s really interesting to think of it in this way, as being able to mold to the listener’s own brainwaves.

A really fascinating interview and a must-watch if you’re at all interested in this sort of music.

Éliane Radigue

Around 1970, Éliane Radigue created her first synthesizer-based music at NYU at a studio she shared with Laurie Spiegel on a Buchla synthesizer installed by Morton Subotnick. Her goal by that point was to create a slow, purposeful “unfolding” of sound, which she felt to be closer to the minimal composers of New York at the time than to the French musique concrète composers who had been her previous allies.

ARP 2500. A fully optioned version was famously used to communicate to aliens in the movie; Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The person who actually played the 2500 on screen in the movie was Philip Dodds, who was VP of Engineering at ARP.

The unique feature of this analog modular synthesizer is the method of patching, or interconnecting modules. Instead of the common way of using patch cables (which can sometimes leave a spaghetti-like mess on the front panel), the ARP 2500 used a matrix system of sliding switches which created a clean and organized appearance.

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Analog Drum ‘n Bass

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Arp 2500 sequence.