The synthesizer as an instrument of personal and social transformation”

ABC Radio National Saturday 20 May 2006 5:00PM

This program looks at the synthesizer and its impact on our mindset. These radically new electronic instruments empowered listeners and users alike to transform themselves personally, politically and socially. The decade that spawned the first generation of analog synthesizers was one that reconfigured many social and political norms. In the 1960s new sonic possibilities were combined with mind-altering situations and substances opening up new worlds of art and culture.

Situated between noise and music, between pop and classical, the liminality of the synthesizer gave it the ability to cross boundaries, with far reaching social and cultural impact.

Suzanne Ciani, creator of what is arguably the most widely heard synthetic sound in history, speaks passionately of her relationship with her Buchla Box. It remained faithfully turned on in her home for ten years. To it alone she attributes authorship of some of her finest work.

Nicole Skelty’s relationship with her ‘synthesizer friends’ offers a unique insight into the way some of the younger generation of musicians interact with their synthesizers.

Produced by
John Jacobs and Cathy Peters

In addition to the music details listed below, incidental music was taken from the following sources

Tristram Carey
Tall Poppies TP139

Black mass Lucifer
Mort Garson
MCA Maps 4969

Wendy Carlos
CBS SBP 234137 (original LP)
East Side Digital 81362 (enhanced & remastered)

Eight Electronic Pieces
Tod Dockstader
Locust B9QEPG

Forbidden Planet
Bebe and Louis Barron
Planet Records PR001

Unpublished studio recordings by Nicole Skeltys


Track Ultimate Artist B(if)tek Album Biftek 2020 Murmur MATTV105

Album Knoxville Summer of 1915 Elektra Nonesuch 7559 79187-2

Track Exorcism Artist Mort Garson Album Black mass Lucifer MCA Maps 4969

Track Zodiac Cosmic Sounds Artist Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause Album Capricorn – The Uncapricious Climber Water B66AUH

Track Walking green algae blues Artist Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause AlbumIn a Wild Sanctuary Warner Brothers WS 1850

Track Aquarius – The Lover of life Artist Paul Beaver and Bernie Krause Album Zodiac Cosmic Sounds Water B66AUH

Track The Well Tempered Clavier: Prelude No 2 in C Minor Artist Wendy Carlos Switched-On Bach 2000 Composer:JS Bach Telarc 80323

Track Kolumbo Artist Dick Hymen Album The Electric eclectics of Dick Hymen Varese 5788

Track Twist Of Fate Artist Bernie Krause and Paul Beaver Album The New Nonesuch Guide To Electronic Music Nonesuch NB-78007

Further Information

Nicole Skeltys

Suzanne Ciani

Trevor Pinch – Analog Days

Image attribution: CC0, Link