Historical Context - Music Tech Performance

Timeline created by RXEdm
In Music
  • The Telegraphone

    The Telegraphone
    Danish engineer Valdemar Poulsen patented the first magnetic wire recorder, called the "Telegraphone".
  • Invention of the Theremin

    Invention of the Theremin
    The Theremin (invented in 1919) is an electronic instrument which is played without even touching it. This instrument was common in electroacoustic music.
  • The first Vocoder

    The first Vocoder
    The first Vocoder (short for 'Voice Encoder') was originally developed in 1928 by Homer Dudley for Bell Labs. its intended use was to reduce bandwidth of voice information, allowing it to be transferred across further distances. The Vocoder has since gone on to be an incredibly useful tool for instrumentalists and vocalists alike, and has been used for making robot sounds in films and TV.
  • The Rickenbacker "Frying Pan"

    The Rickenbacker "Frying Pan"
    The "frying pan" was the first ever electric guitar produced, and was created by George Beauchamp in 1931. It was subsequently manufactured by Rickenbacker Electro. The guitar was a lap steel guitar, designed to cash in on the popularity of Hawaiian music during the 1930s. Beauchamp was not awarded a patent until 1937.
  • The Magnetaphon (Analogue tape recorder)

    The Magnetaphon (Analogue tape recorder)
    Before the days of sampling and computer manipulation of
    sounds, musicians used analogue tape recorders to record
    natural sounds and tape splicing techniques. In 1932, German company AEG worked with BASF to develop magnetic recording to be used as the first analogue tape recorder - this was called the Magnetaphon K1.
  • John Cage releases 'Imaginary Landscape No.1'

    John Cage releases 'Imaginary Landscape No.1'
    In 1939, John Cage (one of the pioneers of American experimental music) released his first 'Imaginary Landscape' track. This track (arguably a precursor to Musique Concrete), combined pure electronic sounds with percussive, natural sounds - this was an early form of electroacoustic music, and was mostly unheard of at the time.
  • Musique Concrete - Pierre Shaeffer

    Musique Concrete - Pierre Shaeffer
    Musique Concrete was a style of avant-garde music developed in the 1940s. This style was first developed by experimental composers, and was constructed by mixing natural sounds (water dripping, metal pans banging, etc...). Pierre Shaeffer (pictured) is widely recognised and well-known for his accomplishments with experimental music, such as Musique Concrete.
  • Pierre Henry's involvement with Musique Concrete

    Pierre Henry's involvement with Musique Concrete
    A year prior, Pierre Shaeffer started pioneering the Musique Concrete style of music. Henry's involvement from 1949 onwards was vital to the development of this style of music. Along with Shaeffer, Henry was one of the founding fathers of Musique Concrete.
  • Development of Multi-track recording

    Development of Multi-track recording
    The development of the loop pedal owes a lot to the development of multi-track recording in the 1950s. This idea of layering multiple pre-recorded tracks in the studio was the precursor to doing the same but in a live setting using live loops.
  • Electroacoustic Music

    Electroacoustic music is a style of music that originated in the early 1940s/late 1950s. Originally, there were two groups of composers who were at odds with each other - Musique Concrete and Elektronic Musik (pioneered by Herbert Eimert, 1949-51). With both of these groups, music was pre-recorded and played through loudspeakers. Nowadays, the majority of electroacoustic pieces use a combination of pre-recorded sound and synthesised (or processed) sounds.
  • The BBC set up studio for experimental soundtracks

    The BBC set up studio for experimental soundtracks
    In 1958, a reluctant BBC allowed a group of experimental music enthusiasts to buy some gear and establish themselves in two studio rooms in London. These rooms became a studio for creating experimental soundtracks. The 'Doctor Who Theme' was one of thousands of signature pieces of music created in this studio.
  • Milton Babbitt releases 'Philomel'

    Milton Babbitt releases 'Philomel'
    in 1964, US composer Milton Babbitt released 'Philomel'. This was very much an electroacoustic track. Babbitt was a prominent electronic composer, and helped popularise the electroacoustic 'genre'. If you ever get a chance to listen to 'Philomel', I recommend it; it's incredibly weird and at times unsettling, but interesting.
  • Bob Dylan's use of the Telecaster

    Bob Dylan's use of the Telecaster
    Dylan owned a 60s model Fender Telecaster, which was one of his first electric guitars. This guitar shaped Dylan's iconic sound (and helped propel him to worldwide fame), and was used on his 1966 tour of Europe and Australia.
  • Terry Riley releases 'A Rainbow in Curved Air'

    Terry Riley releases 'A Rainbow in Curved Air'
    In 1969, US Jazz man Riley released 'A Rainbow in Curved Air'. This was one of the first compositions to ever incorporate tape loops into a live performance.
  • Graeme Edge develops a playable electric drumkit

    Graeme Edge develops a playable electric drumkit
    In 1971, The Moody Blues' drummer Graeme Edge developed a playable electric drumkit. He did so with the help of Sussex University professor, Brian Graves. This electric drumkit can be heard on the 1971 album 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' (pictured).
  • Iannis Xenakis releases 'Persepolis'

    Iannis Xenakis releases 'Persepolis'
    In 1971, well-known electroacoustic composer Iannis Xenakis released 'Persepolis'. There isn't really a melody to this, but it's an interesting piece of electronic music regardless. Similar to Babbitt's 'Philomel', it can get a bit unsettling at times.
  • The Pollard Syndrum becomes the first commercially available electric drumkit

    The Pollard Syndrum becomes the first commercially available electric drumkit
    The Pollard Syndrum - created by Joe Pollard - became the first commercially available electronic drumkit. There were three major types of the Syndrum - Syndrum 1, Syndrum TwinDrum and the Syndrum Quad (pictured). This piece of equipment was used by drummers such as Terry Bozzio (drummer for Frank Zappa).
  • Peter Frampton releases 'Frampton Comes Alive!'

    Peter Frampton releases 'Frampton Comes Alive!'
    In 1976, Peter Frampton released his breakthrough solo album, 'Frampton Comes Alive!'. The album's top two tracks, 'Do You Feel Like We Do' and 'Show Me the Way', feature heavy use of a talk box and introduced the talk box to a larger audience. A talk box is basically a cousin of sorts to the vocoder. Other artists who have used talk boxes include Bon Jovi, Joe Walsh, and Foo Fighters.
  • The Van Halen "Frankenstrat"

    The Van Halen "Frankenstrat"
    The Frankenstrat, designed by Eddie Van Halen, was an attempt to combine a Gibson and a Fender. This model of guitar marked the beginning of guitars made for the faster, more technical playing. Shortly after the Frankenstrat was made, nearly every manufacturer raced to create a model like it.
  • The Commodore 64 Launched

    The Commodore 64 Launched
    Home computer music making really got going when the Commodore 64 was released in 1982. The model was notable for the inclusion of the SID sound chip, allowing users to create music using three channels of synthesis.
  • The 'Birth' of MIDI

    The development of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was of crucial importance to music-makers. The introduction of MIDI allowed computers, synths and other hardware to 'talk' to each other and create music. Without MIDI, computer music would be vastly different. Its unclear who exactly created the idea of MIDI.
  • Atari releases the ST Computer

    Atari releases the ST Computer
    When it was first released, the Atari ST was the machine that every computer musician wanted to own. It was fitted with MIDI ports, making it the perfect piece of kit for those looking to bring external hardware under the control of their computer. Whilst to the non-musician user these MIDI ports wouldn't have been used, the prospect of connecting a computer to other MIDI-based devices was life-changing for musicians.
  • Def Leppard release 'Hysteria'

    Def Leppard release 'Hysteria'
    In 1987, English band Def Leppard released their fourth studio album, Hysteria. Prior to this album, drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a tragic car accident. To make it so he could still play drums, Allen used his left foot to play what his left arm would've. This was achieved through using drum triggers, drum pads and modules, combining electronic drums with acoustic drums. This was a breakthrough at the time.
  • Steinberg releases Cubase

    Steinberg releases Cubase
    Cubase was one of the first DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). The first version of Cubase - released in 1989 - introduced the concept of the 'arrange page', with its vertical list of tracks and a horizontal timeline. This design soon became the staple interface for all commercially developed sequencers and DAWs.
  • The Ibanez 7-string Guitar

    The Ibanez 7-string Guitar
    The 7-string guitar was originally developed in the early 90s by Steve Vai with Ibanez guitars. The seven-string guitar became prominent when the band Korn used Ibanez Universe guitars on their 1994 debut album. This period marked a high point in the popularity of the seven-string guitar, with 7 string guitars continuing to be massively popular among artists such as Muse and Dream Theater.
  • Roland release the Roland TD-10 electric drum model

    Roland release the Roland TD-10 electric drum model
    Roland released their TD-10 model in 1997. The model had two important electronic drum innovations. One of these innovations was a mesh head pad. The pad was produced in collaboration with acoustic drumskin manufacturer Remo.
  • BOSS release the RC-20 Loop Station

    BOSS release the RC-20 Loop Station
    In 2001, music tech masters BOSS released the RC-20 Loop Station. This twin-foot switch unit arguably changed everything, and turned live looping into a mainstream phenomenon. This early model had a five-minute sampling time, overdub, and real-time tempo change functions.
  • Ableton releases Ableton Live

    Ableton releases Ableton Live
    The release of Ableton Live made both users and developers realise that there wasn't just one way of making computer music. When it was released, it looked and felt like no other sequencer available at the time, and is now used by musicians all over the world. Artists who use Ableton Live include Daft Punk, Deadmau5, and Junkie XL.
  • Daft Punk release 'Discovery'

    Daft Punk release 'Discovery'
    Arguably one of the biggest modern-day artists to use vocoders, Daft Punk released their second studio album, 'Discovery', in 2001. Tracks such as 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger' feature heavy use of a vocoder.
  • Logic Pro 7

    Logic Pro 7
    Logic Pro, owned by Apple, is another widely used and popular DAW, and has seen many iterations and updates. When Logic Pro 7 was released in 2004, the user interface was shaped in Apple's image, slowly but surely becoming the user-friendly interface users have come to known. The only downside to Logic is that you need an Apple Mac to use it.
  • KT Tunstall on 'Jay Leno'

    KT Tunstall on 'Jay Leno'
    Throughout the 90s, there was a boom in the manufacturing of affordable gear and technology for musicians, this advanced the loop pedal's accessibility in the market. However, the potential of the loop pedal wasn't really demonstrated until KT Tunstall incorporated it into her performance on the Jay Leno show in 2006. It didn't take long after that performance for the loop pedal to become ubiquitous.
  • The "Guitar Hero" Controller

    The "Guitar Hero" Controller
    The "Guitar Hero" series has had a massive cultural impact, and has helped rekindle people's love for the guitar. The controller combined the technology behind the electric guitar with the technology behind gaming. The game itself lead to the growth of the 'rhythm game' market (think DJ Hero, Rockband, etc...).
  • Korg release the microKORG XL + Synthesizer/Vocoder

    Korg release the microKORG XL + Synthesizer/Vocoder
    In 2008, Korg introduced the microKORG XL +. This model expanded on the original microKORG model, known for its unmistakably unique exterioir and its inimitable sound. The original microKORG set the standard for synthesizers and modern day vocoders.
  • Roland release the SPD-SX Drum Pad (Sampling Pad)

    Roland release the SPD-SX Drum Pad (Sampling Pad)
    In 2011, Roland released the SPD-SX Drum Pad (or sampling pad). This model features multiple effects and allows for expressive playability. This model fitted in nicely with both electric and acoustic drumkits. Lastly, the model features 9 velocity/pressure-sensitive pads, with the option to completely turn off velocity sensitivity. In 2017, Roland launched the SPD-SX Special Edition.
  • Waldorf release the Waldorf Lector Vocoder Software

    Waldorf release the Waldorf Lector Vocoder Software
    German synthesizer company Waldorf introduced Lector in 2011. The Waldorf Lector offered a new 'dimension' of vocoding, based entirely on software as opposed to hardware. The Lector software has a user-friendly interface, and is incredibly versatile.
  • Ed Sheeran @ Glastonbury

    Ed Sheeran @ Glastonbury
    Armed with just a guitar, a keyboard and a loop station (live looping), Sheeran headlined Glastonbury 2017. Arguably one of today's biggest live looping technology users, Sheeran was able to dazzle thousands of crowd members.
  • Andrew Tomasello releases 'Neon Grey'

    Andrew Tomasello releases 'Neon Grey'
    A very modern take on the electroacoustic genre, Andrew Tomasello released 'Neon Grey' in 2018. On the album, Tomasello processes live guitar and piano using a modular synthesizer, and creates electronic sounds that sound both unsettling and intriguing. .
  • Logic Pro X Live Loops Update

    Logic Pro X Live Loops Update
    Logic Pro X (the Apple DAW) has long had the function of adding pre-recorded loops into a recording. The 2020 update of this software saw the introduction of live loops. With Live Loops, you can now create music in new freeform and non-linear ways. Loops, samples and recordings can be organised into a new musical grid.