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Electric Independence: Morton Subotnick

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In its early days, electronic music wasn’t very musical. Painstakingly put together with wave generators or tiny bits of tape spliced together on splicing blocks by music professors and hobbyists, it was often highly abstract, largely concerned with pitch and timbre, and lacked much rhythm or pattern.

Enter Morton Subotnick.

Back in the sixties, while Robert Moog was developing his pioneering keyboard on the East Coast, Subotnick, Ramon Sender and Don Buchla were toiling away in San Francisco on what would become possibly the world’s first analog synthesizer, the ‘electronic music easel’BUCHLA 100. Instead of a keyboard, it relied on pressure sensitive touch-plates, which controlled individually tuneable keys for limitless micro-tuning possibilities, analog sequencers, and complex waveforms beyond your basic sine, sawtooth, and square waves. You can now find it at the Smithsonian.

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