I’m currently working on a new album project called “Harmonium – The First Ones” and it’s a foray into a genre that I’ve never done before – electronic music – something I’ve had in mind to do ever since I discovered electronic music and synthesizers about 30 some odd years ago.
Yes, I realize I’m coming late to the game.
About the name: I know a harmonium is an instrument but every time I hear this word it evokes a different image in my head, one of being that harmony (be it spiritual, mental, physical or emotional) is rare and hard to come by and about as rare and valuable as the other “-oniums”, if not more so.
I realize there’s a glut of electronic music artists out there today. They’re all really good though I confess to only having bought a handful of singles off of iTunes (I stopped buying electronic music albums back in the mid eighties).
Some people regard electronic music as soulless and I can’t say I blame them much. With the advent of sequencers, samplers and looping the technology today makes electronic music seem like you don’t have to put hardly any effort into it – just tap out a few notes, program a rhythm track, throw a cool beat on top of it and you’ve got a complex sounding piece of music for not much work.
That’s not quite accurate I know but that’s the perception among folks I talk to when the subject of this genre comes up and if any electronic music artists feels slighted by this assessment I assure you that 1) it’s not mine and 2) I do apologize.
I decided I was going to do something different. Or, rather, I was going to do something that’s been done before but hasn’t been done since Robert Moog rolled out the first Moog synthesizer back in the late sixties.
To create this album I have (to the best of my ability and with the tools available to me right now) given myself a challenge, one that was unique to the early electronic music artists by imposing three rules on myself:
1. I am limited to only monophonic synthesizers (and, by extension, contemporaneous electronic music equipment). If I can hold down more than one note and get those notes to voice then I will not use it to create this album. This means, at a minimum, if I want to create synthesizer harmonies with the same synthesizer voices I’m forced to do quite a lot of multitracking.
2. No sequencers or looping is allowed on this album, tape loop being the exception and since I don’t have a reel-to-reel tape machine at my disposal this means I will not be doing any looping at all and any instrumentation I record is going to be done in real time.
3. Recognizing that I have a distinct advantage over the early electronic musicians with unlimited multitrack recording capability I have imposed on myself 8 tracks and allowed myself no more than four generations of bouncing so I have to choose what I record carefully and I’m forced to keep my arrangements as simple as possible.
So far I’ve managed to record four songs in the last four days , or a song a day. I don’t know if this is some kind of record or not.
Perhaps someone can look it up for me.
At the rate I’m going I should have this album completed in the next four days and I’m planning to release it around Christmas on iTunes and other online music retailers – this being the advantage I have of owning my own record/distribution label.
In the meantime, here’s a cut off the upcoming album “The First Ones” called “Enlightenment For Dummies”.
- Electronic Music Innovations: Robert Moog (joziashenderikse.wordpress.com)
- Brian Eno – 40 years of changing music (deandrebarnes.wordpress.com)
- Morton Subotnick NPR Interview (synthtopia.com)