We Celebrate Wendy Carlos' 80th Year in Echoes Podcast
We look back at Wendy Carlos on her 80th Birthday.
You know that a lot of time has passed when your references become dated. With its array of cords and cables crisscrossed in a patchbay, we used to compare it to a telephone switchboard gone crazy. Well, synthesizers don’t look like that anymore, the modular renaissance excepted, and most people under thirty wouldn’t know what a telephone switchboard was unless they watch the TCM channel a lot.
It was 1968 when Wendy Carlos took her Moog synthesizer and applied it to the contrapuntal 18th century music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The album was called Switched-On Bach and it changed the shape of modern music forever. It took synthesizers out of the world of sound effects and the avant-garde and into the mass market. It’s 50 years later and Wendy Carlos first masterwork is now an iconic moment in the history of electronic music. She’s done other great works since. She presaged Brian Eno and Ambient Music with her 1972 album, Sonic Seasonings (from whence we stole the title of our annual Christmas show). Her Beauty in the Beast was a manifesto for the synthesizer in the global village as Carlos digitally hand-crafted her own global orchestra coupling hybrid instruments and timbres that are remarkably true to form, from the roaring Tibetan trumpets that open the album to the Balinese xylophones and suling flutes.
She only did a few film scores, but they are legendary. A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Tron were signal works in film scoring.
10 Years ago we did a feature on her 70th birthday. In the Echoes Podcast, we update it for her 80th Birthday drawing from 30 years of interviews with Wendy Carlos.