CHARLES DODGE – 2 electronic album experiments (1971/76)

This is a duo of albums that was originally posted on 36 15 Moog, one of several sites run by a French fellow who goes under the name Paul Durango — but I thought they were cool enough to warrant re-posting here. On the subject of electronic pioneer Charles Dodge’s early vocoder experiments, excerpted from an interview on Perfect Sound Forever:

In the early days of computer music in the sixties, one of the few places to actually hear what you were doing was at the Bell Laboratories (in New Jersey).  In those days, it was a very special piece of equipment called the digital-analog converter that was used for that purpose.  Bell was a friendly benevolent monopoly at this stage.  The inventor of computer music, Max Matthews, was there.  He encouraged some of us who had access to university computers to make musical sound in digital form on the computers and to listen to it and convert it to a form that could be heard in his laboratory.

That lab was used in the daytime for speech research.  When you went there to listen to your music, you often heard speech research going on in the hall.  I was fascinated by that and was so struck how much more interesting were the sounds of synthesized speech which were made by the researchers were than the attempts at musical sounds that my friends and I were making.
At some point in the early ’70′s, I had the opportunity to work at the Bell Labs in the evening, after hours, in an attempt to make music using some of the software there that had been developed for speech research.  I had access to software written by a researching named Joseph Olive, who had a musical background and an interest in music composition.  With Matthews’ permission and Olive’s active help, I was able to go to Bell after the workers had gone home and use the same computers that were used for speech research for music.  That was the genesis of the speech synthesis techniques that were used in those pieces.

And, from the liner notes on “Earth’s Magnetic Field”:

The solar wind may be viewed as pushing against Earth’s magnetic field, in turn producing an equal but opposite push on the solar wind. The solar wind is not uniform and consequently any changes in it are quickly reflected at the Earth’s surface as changes in the magnetic field …. The Kp index represents the average of the magnetic changes, which are measured at a selected group of magnetic observing stations on Earth and may take on any of 28 distinct values. Every three hours, the observations provide a new value for the index, thereby giving eight values of Kp for each day. As an aid for researchers, the Kp indices are displayed graphically. They look somewhat like musical notation and are popularly called “Bartels’ musical diagrams,” after their inventor, German geophysicist Julius Bartels. These diagrams are largely responsible for providing the motivation for the music contained in this album. In a real sense, then, the music on this record represents the sun playing on the magnetic field of Earth.

Charles Dodge – “Synthesized Voices”, 1976 (ZIP file)
Charles Dodge – “Earth’s Magnetic Field”, 1971 (ZIP file)

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829 Responses to CHARLES DODGE

  1. paul says:

    Whoa! This is insane! It’s not as crazy as the description led me to believe, but I’m sure for its’ time, it was probably pretty fringe-oid. Thanks for continually supplying me with challenging music. My brain thanks you too.

  2. Byron says:

    I just picked up earth’s magnetic field on vinyl the other day, not the greatest thing ever made but a cool score nonetheless

  3. caleb says:

    random inquiry. years ago a friend played a cassette for me with some of the scariest minimalist electronic i’ve ever heard. it was old, at least from the 80′s but probably earlier. the artists name was lars something. anyone know what the hell i’m talking about?

  4. caleb says:

    never mind i found the name. it’s lars gunnar bodin.