Women's Day - Honoring Pioneers of Electronic Music
On this day, let us not think of them as Women, but as the people who have made significant contributions to the advancement of electronic music. From composition to design to theory. It cannot be denied, electronic music would be very different than we know it today. Were it not for these innovators who's passion surpassed adversity with creativity and love.
We have compiled an incomplete list of many early pioneers and what they have done. See the end of this article for references to many more. We hope you will take time to learn about and listen to their music. Much of which are still ahead of their time. If you don't know these people, and or their work. You are in for many pleasant surprises.
Clara Rockmore (1928)
Rockmore's classical training gave her an advantage over the many other theremin performers of the time. The intonation control she acquired as a violinist and her innate absolute pitch were both helpful in playing the instrument. She had extremely precise, rapid control of her movements, important in playing an instrument that depends on the performer's motion and proximity rather than touch. She developed a unique technique for playing the instrument, including a fingering system that allowed her to perform accurately fast passages and large note leaps without the more familiar portamento, or glide, on theremin. She also discovered that she could achieve a steadier tone and control the vibrato by keeping the tips of her right-hand thumb and forefinger in contact.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Rockmore
Johanna Beyer (1938)
Although her music was overlooked during her lifetime and for decades after her death, it was some of the most experimental and prophetic work created during the 1930s. Music of the Spheres (1938) is the first known work scored for electronic instruments by a female composer. The fourth movements of her two clarinet suites (1932) are some of the earliest examples of a pitch-based approach to rhythmic processes, which would not be fully explored again until the late 1940s by composers such as Elliott Carter and Conlon Nancarrow. Several of her works anticipate the minimalist music of the 1960s, most notably the fourth movement of her first String Quartet. She included tone clusters in Clusters, a suite for solo piano, and the duet, Movement for Two Pianos. The large clusters in these works often require the pianist to play the keys with their forearms.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johanna_Beyer
Else Marie Pade (1954)
Else Marie Pade was a Danish composer. She was educated as a pianist at the Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium (Royal Danish Academy of Music) in Copenhagen. She studied composition first with Vagn Holmboe, and later with Jan Maegaard, from whom she learned twelve-tone technique. In 1954, she became the first Danish composer of electronic and concrete music (Bruland 2001). She worked with Pierre Schaeffer and Karlheinz Stockhausen, as well as Pierre Boulez.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Else_Marie_Pade
Bebe Barron (1956)
In the early 50s, the Barrons collaborated with various celebrated filmmakers to provide music and sound effects for art films and experimental cinema. The Barrons scored three of Ian Hugo's short experimental films based on the writings of his wife Anaïs Nin. The most notable of these three films were Bells of Atlantis (1952) and Jazz of Lights (1954). The Barrons assisted Maya Deren in the audio production of the soundtrack for The Very Eye of Night (1959), which featured music by Teiji Ito. Bridges-Go-Round (1958) by Shirley Clarke featured two alternative soundtracks, one by the Barrons and one by jazz musician Teo Macero. The film's two versions showed the same four-minute film of New York City bridges. Showing the two versions back-to-back showed how different soundtracks affected the viewer's perception of the film. In 1956 the Barrons composed the very first electronic score for a commercial film – Forbidden Planet, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Daphne Oram (1959)
Daphne Oram was a British composer and electronic musician. Oram was one of the first British composers to produce electronic sound and was a pioneer of "musique concrete" She was the creator of the Oramics technique for creating electronic sounds, co-founder of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and a central figure in the evolution of electronic music. Besides being a musical innovator, she was the first woman to direct an electronic music studio, the first woman to set up a personal electronic music studio and the first woman to design and construct an electronic musical instrument.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_Oram
Pauline Oliveros (1962)
Pauline Oliveros was an American composer, accordionist and a central figure in the development of experimental and post-war electronic art music. She was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, and served as its director. She taught music at Mills College, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Oliveros authored books, formulated new music theories, and investigated new ways to focus attention on music including her concepts of "Deep Listening" and "sonic awareness".
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_Oliveros
Delia Ann Derbyshire (1963)
Delia Ann Derbyshire was an English musician and composer of electronic music and musique concrète. She is best known for "creating a howling masterpiece" in her electronic music arrangement of Ron Grainer's written theme music to the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and for her pioneering work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delia_Derbyshire
Wendy Carlos (1968)
Wendy Carlos is an American composer and keyboardist best known for her electronic music and film scores. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Carlos studied physics and music at Brown University before moving to New York City in 1962 to study music composition at Columbia University. Studying and working with various electronic musicians and technicians at the city's Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, she oversaw the development of the Moog synthesizer, then a relatively new and unknown keyboard instrument designed by Robert Moog.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_Carlos
Jasia Reichardt (1968)
Jasia Reichardt was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1933. In the 1950s she was editor of Art News and Review, a weekly arts magazine. From 1963 to 1971 she was assistant director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. In 1968 she curated the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA, and was editor of Cybernetic serendipity: the computer and the arts, a special edition of Studio International magazine, which was published at the same time. From 1974 to 1976 Reichardt was a director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasia_Reichardt
Éliane Radigue (1973)
Around 1970, she created her first synthesizer-based music in a studio she shared with Laurie Spiegel on a Buchla synthesizer installed by Morton Subotnick at NYU. Her goal at that point was to create a slow, purposeful "unfolding" of sound, which she felt to be closer to the minimal composers of New York at the time than to the French musique concrète composers who had been her previous allies. After the premiere of Adnos I in 1974 at Mills College at the invitation of Robert Ashley, a group of visiting French music students suggested that her music was deeply related to meditation and that she should look into Tibetan Buddhism, two things she was not familiar with.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliane_Radigue
Suzanne Ciani (1974)
Suzanne Cianni s an Italian American pianist and composer who found early success with innovative electronic music. In 1974 she formed her own company, Ciani/Musica, and, using a Buchla Analog Modular Synthesizer, composed scores for television commercials for corporations such as Coca-Cola, Merrill Lynch, AT&T and General Electric. Besides music, her specialty was reproducing sound effects on the synthesizer, that recording engineers had found difficult to record properly; the sound of a bottle of Coca-Cola being opened and poured was one of Ciani's most widely recognized works, and was used in a series of radio and television commercials in the late 1970s.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzanne_Ciani
Laurie Anderson (1981)
Laurie Anderson is an American avant-garde artist, composer, musician and film director whose work spans performance art, pop music, and multimedia projects. Initially trained in violin and sculpting, Anderson pursued a variety of performance art projects in New York during the 1970s, making particular use of language, technology, and visual imagery.She became widely more known outside the art world in 1981 when her single "O Superman" reached number two on the UK pop charts. She also starred in and directed the 1986 concert film Home of the Brave. Anderson is a pioneer in electronic music and has invented several devices that she has used in her recordings and performance art shows. In 1977, she created a tape-bow violin that uses recorded magnetic tape on the bow instead of horsehair and a magnetic tape head in the bridge. In the late 1990s, she developed a talking stick, a six-foot (1.8 m) long baton-like MIDI controller that can access and replicate sounds.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Anderson
Laurie Spiegel (1986)
Laurie Spiegel is an American composer. She has worked at Bell Laboratories, in computer graphics, and is known primarily for her electronic-music compositions and her algorithmic composition software Music Mouse. She also plays the guitar and lute. Spiegel was seen by some as a pioneer of the New York new-music scene. She withdrew from this scene in the early 1980s, believing that its focus had shifted from artistic process to product. While she continues to support herself through software development, Spiegel aims to use technology in music as a means of furthering her art rather than as an end in itself. In her words, "I automate whatever can be automated to be freer to focus on those aspects of music that can't be automated.
Read More - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Spiegel
Carla Scaletti (1989)
Carla Scaletti is an American harpist, composer, music technologist and the inventor of the Kyma Sound Design Environment as well as president of Symbolic Sound. Carla Scaletti was born in Ithaca, New York. She graduated from the public schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then completed a Bachelor of Music from the University of New Mexico, a Master of Music from Texas Tech University, a master's in computer science from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in music composition from the same school. After completing her education, she worked as a researcher at the CERL Sound Group, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and later as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois before leaving the university to launch the Symbolic Sound Corporation. Scaletti designed the Kyma sound generation computer language and co-founded Symbolic Sound Corporation with Kurt J. Hebel in 1989 as a spinoff of the CERL Sound Group.
There are many many more making contributions since then and into tomorrow. Please reference these sites featuring many more Women working in electronic music: