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Deconstructing Dad: The Music, Machines and Mystery of Raymond Scott

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    RAYMOND SCOTT (1908-1994) was one of the most prolific and central figures in 20th century music, with a career that began in the 1930s swing/big-band era, and continued through the experimental electronic music age of the 1970s.

    Although Scott was a famous figure during the mid-twentieth century, and currently has a dedicated cult following (that includes some of the most renowned artists in the music world), his name — not his music — remains largely unknown to the general public.

    But now there is a documentary film about this maverick musician, composer, inventor, and electronic music pioneer that will help raise awareness of this visionary. Deconstructing Dad tells the story of Scott’s life and career from a unique perspective, that of his only son, Stan Warnow.

    Raymond Scott first came to the attention of the music world on CBS radio with his innovative group the Raymond Scott Quintette in late 1936. He went on to a career that included writing music for and appearances in several Hollywood films, touring Big Bands, and in the 1940s he formed the first integrated radio orchestra — a jazz group that was a critical favorite. It included jazz greats like Coleman Hawkins and Cozy Cole.

    Along the way, many of his highly original musical compositions — with their characteristic sophisticated yet quirky melodies and rhythms — were licensed by Warner Bros.for their internationally famous LOONEY TUNES. If you’ve ever been entertained by the wacky antics of Bugs Bunny, or the Road Runner and Wile Coyote, you’ve almost surely heard his music. He’s been called “the man who made cartoons swing.”

    Later in the 1940s, he wrote the music for the Broadway musical Lute Song, which starred Yul Brynner and Mary Martin. In the 1950s he led the orchestra for Your Hit Parade, on NBC television composed several film scores, and wrote commercial jingles. But this work was minor compared to the work he was doing in the emerging field of electronic music. He had always been fascinated by the technology of music and was a highly accomplished audio engineer.

    From the 1950s through the 1970s he invented and refined a dazzling array of electronic musical instruments (as well as other devices like an early fax machine), that were years ahead of what was being done elsewhere. Scott’s crowning invention, The Electronium, which he described as ”an instantaneous composition and performance machine,” was purchased by Berry Gordy for Motown, and Scott worked for Motown for several years as their Director of Electronic Music Research and Development.

    When his years at Motown ended, he spent several more years on the Electronium and other electronic music projects, until he was crippled by a stroke in the mid-1980s which rendered him unable to work. He died in Van Nuys, California in 1994.

    He was married three times and fathered four children, one of whom directed this documentary. This is the official website for the film.
    Content Notes:
    In addition to the documentary film the following are included.

    Original DVD Extras

    • Two scenes featuring Mark Mothersbaugh, movie soundtrack composer and DEVO co-founder

    • Turntablist/producer/author DJ SPOOKY, aka Paul D. Miller

    • An exploration of the mysterious 1959 album THE UNEXPECTED by Raymond Scott & The Secret Seven, the all-star jazz legends supergroup whose identities remained confidential for decades

    • Tom Rhea, Ph.D (Berklee College of Music) explains Scott’s early keyboard synthesizer invention, the Clavivox

    • MOOG synthesizer co-inventor, Herb Deutsch, recalls Scott describing the Electronium.

    Deluxe DVD Extras

    • A progress report on the Electronium restoration in Portland, Oregon by engineer Darren Davison. You’ll get good views of the inner components of the machine and Darren explains in detail how things worked, as far as he knows — he’s still figuring it out and the process is very much a work in progress.

    • An interview with John Cool, an electrical engineer who formed a company with Raymond Scott in the early 1970s. The company was meant to manufacture some of Raymond Scott’s many ideas for music related electronic devices. He has fascinating tales to tell about Raymond Scott and the mixed results of their business venture, hosting him for Christmas and listening to him compose one tune after another instantly at the piano (kind of like the human Electronium) and much more.

    • There’s a Directors Commentary, get the story behind the story.
    Type: Documentary
    Year: 2010
    Total Time: 98:00
    Styles: Ambient, Classical, Jazz, Musique Concrète, Soundtrack
    Formats: Digital / Download, DVD, Stream
    Official Site: https://scottdoc.com/
    Purchase URL:
    Liscense: Copyright
    Cast:
    Gert-Jan Blom
    Don Byron
    Irwin Chusid
    Herbert Deutsch
    Skip Heller
    Mark Mothersbaugh
    Edward R. Murrow
    Dj Spooky
    Stanley Warnow
    Byron Werner
    John Williams
    Hal Willner
    Jeff E. Winner
    Director: Stan Warnow
    Producer: Stan Warnow, Jeff E. Winner
    Editor: Stan Warnow
    Studio: Waterfall Films
    Editions
    1. 2010 - DVD - Waterfall Films, USA
    2. 2013 - DVD Deluxe Edition - Waterfall Films, USA
    3. 2015 - Digital HD Streaming and Download - Vimeo, USA
    Synthesizers
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