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  • If you had to choose...

    What would you say the defining 5 or 6 pieces of the electronic/synthesized music world are? Things a la Jan Hammer, Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk? A few pieces of (instrumental) synth music that truly give a taste of what it's all about?

    I may have to chance to perform and lecture on the world of electronic music to the music department of my school (primarily classical musicians who scoff at synths and think MIDI is just a way to write music in Sibelius easier ) next semester. It would be a big opportunity, and I need to choose the pieces now so I can present the program to the department head, yadda yadda.

    So basically, top five. Go.
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  • #2
    I'd give a nod to some of the classics: One of the Carlos's Switched on Bach series, or Tomita's "Snowflakes are Dancing"

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    • #3
      Oh yeah, I was definitely going to a S-O B piece to get them warmed up to the idea haha
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      • #4
        The Planets by Tomita should be considered

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        • #5
          Jarre's Oxygene/Equinoxe (take your pick). Stevie Wonder's Music of My Mind also features quite a number of synths. Art Of Noise would work too (though that's more collage/sampling). Add SOB and Kraftwerk and you'll have lots of stuff covered.
          "Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.
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          • #6
            I can't see a music department with contempt for synths gaining any appreciation by hearing Tomita's Planets or Carlos' S.O.B. Both pieces are beautiful to many of us and hideous to purists. Based on what you've said your audience isn't going to be receptive to it. Not everyone hears what we hear in them. Most of us have been ignorantly lectured at some time about how Bach would be rolling in his grave if he heard what some people have done with his music.

            If it were me I'd go with a less familiar Jan Hammer piece that doesn't cement most people's idea of 80's synth pop (I love it too) since they'll be listening for it to hate it, maybe a Herbie Hancock song (avoiding Rockit) and/or Stevie Wonder, maybe Edgar Winter if you think it fits, maybe parts of Kraftwerk's stuff like Ruckzuck and so on. Especially if you can find a flute player up for the task. Jean Michel Jarre would be awesome.

            It is hard to fathom a music department with contempt for such a prevalent and versitile instrument. It would be hard to find music in the last few decades without a synth somewhere in it. You sure you really want to work closely with these knuckleheads?

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            • #7
              I can't see a music department with contempt for synths gaining any appreciation by hearing Tomita's Planets or Carlos' S.O.B. Both pieces are beautiful to many of us and hideous to purists. Based on what you've said your audience isn't going to be receptive to it. Not everyone hears what we hear in them. Most of us have been ignorantly lectured at some time about how Bach would be rolling in his grave if he heard what some people have done with his music.

              If it were me I'd go with a less familiar Jan Hammer piece that doesn't cement most people's idea of 80's synth pop (I love it too) since they'll be listening for it to hate it, maybe a Herbie Hancock song (avoiding Rockit) and/or Stevie Wonder, maybe Edgar Winter if you think it fits, maybe parts of Kraftwerk's stuff like Ruckzuck and so on. Especially if you can find a flute player up for the task. Jean Michel Jarre would be awesome.

              It is hard to fathom a music department with contempt for such a prevalent and versitile instrument. It would be hard to find music in the last few decades without a synth somewhere in it. You sure you really want to work closely with these knuckleheads?


              Well, to being with, there's not exactly a contempt. These are the same people I go party with on weekends and they can't get enough Top 40 dance hits. So, not a contempt, but a lack of understanding and respect for the instrument. They see it merely as a toy for pop producers, and not in the true light that it should be seen. I'm not trying to make them love the instrument as if they hate it, but respect it as if they don't understand it fully.
              Yamaha MOX8 | E-Mu Emax (SE Upgrade) | Yamaha RX11 | Yamaha TG33 | Yamaha DX7 | Roland Alpha Juno | Roland D50 | Roland JV-2080 | Korg DDD-1 | Oberheim DMX (w/ Factory MIDI)
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              • #8
                In broad categories, I think there are three types of synth examples that show synths as something other than sources of sounds for pop producers and dance stuff... whether you want to demonstrate them all, I don't know, that depends on what you're trying to do... but I think they would be
                (a) synthesizer versions of classical pieces a la Switched on Bach and some Tomita stuff
                (b) new original compositions that use nothing but (or at least primarily) synthesizers a la Synergy and Kraftwerk (and a lot of more esoteric stuff)
                (c) new music that relies on synthesizer but is combined with more traditional rock or jazz instrumentation/approaches a la some ELP and Weather Report

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                • #9
                  Well, to being with, there's not exactly a contempt. These are the same people I go party with on weekends and they can't get enough Top 40 dance hits. So, not a contempt, but a lack of understanding and respect for the instrument. They see it merely as a toy for pop producers, and not in the true light that it should be seen. I'm not trying to make them love the instrument as if they hate it, but respect it as if they don't understand it fully.


                  Understood. The description, "musicians who scoff at synths and think MIDI is just a way to write music in Sibelius easier" while you worked to persuade them of the program's value had me thinking of them as a group of closed minded elitists.

                  Either way, I'd still be reluctant to use traditionally orchestral pieces in that case. It is like playing rearranged covers of Beatles songs to hardcore Beatles fans. Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, and so on would be better bets. I wish you success either way. Sounds like a real opportunity here.

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                  • #10
                    Understood. The description, "musicians who scoff at synths and think MIDI is just a way to write music in Sibelius easier" while you worked to persuade them of the program's value had me thinking of them as a group of closed minded elitists.

                    Either way, I'd still be reluctant to use traditionally orchestral pieces in that case. It is like playing rearranged covers of Beatles songs to hardcore Beatles fans. Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, and so on would be better bets. I wish you success either way. Sounds like a real opportunity here.


                    Thank you, sir.
                    Yamaha MOX8 | E-Mu Emax (SE Upgrade) | Yamaha RX11 | Yamaha TG33 | Yamaha DX7 | Roland Alpha Juno | Roland D50 | Roland JV-2080 | Korg DDD-1 | Oberheim DMX (w/ Factory MIDI)
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                    • #11
                      Rather than playing Carlos or Tomita you might consider pieces written by composers in the "classical" space who worked with synthesizers: Milton Babbit (using the RCA MkII), David Borden (also performed under the name Mother Mallard). Plus pre-synth tape/musique concrete stuff like Edgar Varese's Po
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                      • #12
                        What about considering Lynda Kavina's "Concert Per Theremin", live in italy?

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                        • #13
                          Agree with the Carlos sentiments, as well as Stevie Wonder. Also consider Jean Jacques-Perrey and more recently AIR. Harp on the influence these have had on modern music over the last 40+ years.
                          http://soundcloud.com/donchesson

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                          • #14
                            Don't forget Yellow Magic Orchestra
                            "I remember when dubstep was just called "LFO-Locked-Filter-On-Square-Wave-Bass-Synth" in the '60s" - Alan Parsons

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                            • #15
                              A good piece that might really hit home with a music department is "Ecstatic Waters" composed by Steven Bryant. It is a for symphonic band and electronics (using Ableton Live). I feel something like this might help you bridge the gap between acoustic and electronic with the students.

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