June 29, 2013

Man Of La Mancha...

by Chris Randall

Okay, here's the deal: I'm not a millionaire. Or even a ten-thousandaire. But I was always told "dream big!" And I do have a big dream. I've had this dream for a while, but I've only told two people about it, because I thought it sounded kind of stupid. They didn't laugh in my face when I told them, so maybe it's not a stupid dream after all.

Here's the thing: I would like to (re)create a late-50s / early-60s tape-based electronic music studio (of the sort used by Stockhausen, Varese, Schaeffer, Dissevelt, Dockstader, et al) that was completely free for interested parties to use. My thinking here is that a facility like that is not a whole lot of use to a single person, but wouldn't it be interesting if, say, Richard Devine or Alessandro Cortini or other current experimental electronic musicians had access to a vintage electronic music studio? What would they make, bringing today's musical vernacular to that context? I think that's music worth hearing, honestly.

I have a firm idea of what equipment such a studio would have, and I have a good working knowledge of how that equipment is used. But I have no idea how to bring it about other than throwing a shit ton of money at it. My dream precludes financial renumeration (it would be fiscally impossible to make such a facility actually turn a profit, of course) so I would operate it on the following basis: if you have musical credibility in our peer group (and since it's not a terribly large group, that isn't even really a judgement call) and you can get yourself here and put yourself up and pay the expenses (tape ain't cheap), schedule permitting, it's yours to use as you see fit.

Okay, maybe it isn't silly. It would be tough to pull off, though. Go ahead. Have at it. Laugh and laugh. In the meantime, here's some vintage e-music studio porn:



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Jul.01.2013 @ 4:27 AM
I have to admit, I haven't read through all of the comments below, but I doubt this was suggested because it's a bit arcane.

I went to the State University of New York at Stony Brook for my master's and phd, and they had an amazing trio of analog studios that were created by Bülent Arel (for those who don't know the name, one of heavies in the 60s & 70s). When I was there in the early 1990s they were still in full force, but beginning to be disassembled. They have a metric shit-ton of gear that they're not using, and I believe much of it is in storage.

Contact Daria Semegen or Dan Weymouth out there and see whether that's still the case. I'm sure Daria in particular (Bülent's partner from the 70s-80s) would love to see it put to good use.

Jul.01.2013 @ 5:45 AM
Spectacularly amazing idea. And generous too. It's rare to see the word "free" associated with anything without a string or 12 attached it. Really cool,

Jul.01.2013 @ 6:16 AM
Go forth and produce, as long as clinical G.A.S is not the seed.

Jul.01.2013 @ 6:21 AM
I did not sift through the comments so forgive me if its been mentioned. If your looking for a grant, emphasize that it will attract tourism which will stimulate local business... They gotta get there pizza and Chinese food, and hotel from somewhere ?

Jul.01.2013 @ 7:38 AM
I can hardly call it a stupid dream since I've had more or less the same one for some time now, the primary difference being that I was going to set it up in the backwoods of Michigan (a. I like it up there b. I figured I could get it affiliated with the Interlochen Academy).
While I can't see you funding it through kickstarter (for a variety of reasons), if you did I'd certainly donate what I could.
Lastly, isn't there a Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix? Might not be a bad idea to meet with them to discuss possible shared interests.

Jul.01.2013 @ 9:05 AM
I imagine most readers of this blog have an idea what kind of equipment you're talking about - tape machines and splicing stuff, mixers, oscillators, filter banks and EQs, probably some ring modulators and frequency shifters - but care to share a more detailed list?

Kit for those studios varied pretty widely, but you must have a pretty well-defined spec if you can already price it out.

Jul.01.2013 @ 12:32 PM
beauty pill
I like this idea. I can see it being a destination.

I like the idea of Red Bull solicitation and agree that grant-proposal-writing is a skill you could easily acquire --- you're a good writer --- or at the very least collaborate with someone who has experience in that area.

Red Bull did a whole piece on Arto Lindsay, one of my favorite musicians in the world and a primary influence on me. So it seems they roll deep.

link [www.redbullmusimy.co...]

- c

Jul.01.2013 @ 1:41 PM
I'm so seriously confused by redbull. I mean they do great things in the name of energy drink marketing, but I guess I should have gone into the energy drink industry or something.

Anyway, here in nyc we have harvestworks, which while not the same as what you're proposing caters to the same crowd and does some of the same stuff. They've managed to keep the doors open for about 40 years, so it might be worth looking into how they've done it.

Jul.01.2013 @ 3:24 PM
This is a lot of what I am doing with my studio partner (studio being built at the moment). Fortunately he is financially better off than I am, and has some amazing recording gear that equals about the cash value of my house. I have a large collection of vintage synthesizers/samplers/tape machines/etc. We want to bring people we love in...not even necessarily rock stars, in fact...preferably not. Talented kids that don't have access to this stuff. Which, in the midwest...is pretty realistic...there is not a lot of this equipment floating around here, only the adventurous finds on Craigslist and eBay or online ordering if you want to use all but the most corporate electronic instruments here.

Jul.01.2013 @ 5:15 PM
I think it's an awesome idea.
Makes you think differently, brings people together, shared ideas, live performances, pinball ...... I'd donate to the cause.

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