From the Library – Classic Electronica

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Wednesday, 2 April, 2008

This week we look back on some of the classics of electronic music – both loved ones and neglected ones… and quite a few you may never have heard before. Some are in the pop vein, others more classically inclined, while many are in a style all their own. In addition we will be presenting some unique material that provides a backdrop to the music. We have stayed away, largely, from the work of “serious” composers and instead focused more on popular explorations of the electronic musical arts.

The furthest we go back in this programme is probably to early computer music, programmed on an IBM 7090 mainframe in 1962 by various composers, and released on Brunswick Records as Music from Mathematics. Then there is the work of Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan, working in the Philips electronic music facility in Eindhoven, Holland in the early 1960s. Their best-known work is heard here, in the seldom-heard US stereo version of Song of the Second Moon, which includes strong melodies as well as abstract pieces.

We also look at the important work of Joe Meek in the 1960s British pop world with some hits (and otherwise) by the Tornados and also Meek’s own, exceptionally rare album, I Hear a New World.

In the 1960s another new electronic music force came into prominence, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and we feature a selection of their earliest work and some later material from the early synthesiser period. In addition we focus on composer Delia Derbyshire (see photo) with a selection of her compositions including the Dr Who theme as broadcast in around 1970, half a dozen years after the series started, and more, plus the documentary Wee Have Also Sound Houses from 1979, when synthesisers were beginning to make a serious contribution to the output of the Workshop.

In a somewhat curious link, Martin Luther King was assassinated 40 years ago on April 4, and we will remember this by playing the Radiophonic performance by Richard Attree, The Dream. Follow-up to his award-winning Peace On Earth, The Dream combines actuality with original music to stunning effect and received the 1989 Sony Award for Most Creative Use of Radio.

Back on the commercial front we feature the work of Moog pioneers Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, with their poppy, idiosyncratic pieces, and of course selections from Wendy Carlos. Then there are some compositions from Larry Fast, recording as Synergy, with several of his ground-breaking 1970s albums, as widely used in early Laserium shows. Some early Kraftwerk is in the mix from the first album and Autobahn from 1974 that made them popular.

In addition we have a broad spectrum of early works from other composers in the genre including Tomita, Kitaro, Constance Demby, Don Harriss, Vangelis and many more. We hope you enjoy this very varied and extensive programme.

• From The Library is presented by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life. This week’s programme was produced in our London studios by Elrik Merlin. For more information on the Caledon Library, current exhibits, and the work of Second Life reference libraries in general, please visit the Caledon Library Web site, or one of their locations in-world.

You can listen to the program now at, or simply visit any Caledon Library branch in-world and press Play on your embedded music player.


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