08 Sep 2013

Wendy Carlos redefined film music in 1972

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Clockwork Orange Clockwork Orange Stanley Kubrick


1972 was a great year for synthesiser music. Some of the greatest electronic music performances ever come from this year

Although the early seventies are seen in hindsight as something of "the dark ages" for musical innovation - a state of affairs that was responsible for the birth of Punk in the latter part of the decade, it was something of a Cretaceous period for electronic music.

The Cretaceous period saw the extremely rapid evolution of complex life forms, many of which were to die out rapidly, but several of which are still recognisable in today's fauna. In 1972 it was like that with synthesisers. And we hear echoes from that year today across the spectrum from Electronic Dance Music (EDM) to film soundtracks.

Two artists stand head and shoulders above the rest in my mind: Stevie Wonder with his unquantifiably groundbreaking album "Talking Book", and Wendy Carlos' Clockwork Orange.


One track in particular from the Orange album captivated me as a child, and was almost solely responsible for my lifelong fascination with electronic music. It's Carlos' version of the last movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony, created entirely with analogue synthesisers of the time.

One thing that stands out about this track is that Beethoven's 9th is, of course, the "Choral" symphony. This made an already complex piece even more of a challenge.

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David Shapton

David is the Editor In Chief of RedShark Publications. He's been a professional columnist and author since 1998, when he started writing for the European Music Technology magazine Sound on Sound. David has worked with professional digital audio and video for the last 25 years.

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