Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, encore presentation: The golden age of synths (as told by OMD)

There have been many, many times over the last one hundred years when technology has changed the way we make music.

Take the microphone, for example, Before it came along, singers had to be naturally louder than the orchestra behind them. They needed to have a voice and delivery that could reach the back rows of the theatre. But when the microphone came along, certain singers like Bing Crosby realized that you could use a mic to offer a new style of singing. But getting up nice and close, you could create a who new mood for singing, a much more intimate delivery. Belters–those who sang loud enough to fill a theatre–went out of style.

Amplification was another game-changer. In the past, you needed a dozen or more people in a band to fill the room with music. With amps, you needed fewer people to make that much noise.

Magnetic tape and multi-track recording made it possible to create entirely new soundscapes, the kind that you could never have in the real world. The recording studio became an instrument in itself for artists who wanted to explore new sonic frontiers.

And then we had developments like the electric guitar–and I don’t need to tell you how much that changed everything.

Through the 50s, 60s and into the 70s, this is how things stood for making music: mics and amps and electric guitars and multi-track recording gear. Those were the tools for making modern music.

But things eventually began to get more modern. Beginning in the mid-70s, a new era dawned, one featuring electronic machines that could make sounds never before imagined anywhere in the universe.

So many new possibilities opened up during this era that’s become known as the Golden Age of Synthesizers. Everything about making music changed–and it changed fast.

If you’re into any flavour of today’s electronic music, you will find this recollection of that time fascinating. And leading this bit of audio archeology will be a couple of guys who were there and experienced it all. Say hi to Andy McCluskie and Paul Humphries of OMD.

Songs heard on this program:

  • MGMT, Time to Pretend
  • Kraftwerk, Autobahn
  • OMD, Electricity
  • OMD, Locomotion
  • OMD, Tesla Girls
  • Depeche Mode, Just Can’t Get Enough
  • OMD, Enola Gay
  • OMD, If You Leave

Eric Wilhite has this playlist for us.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Questions about any past shows? Ideas for future programs? Just shoot an email to [email protected]

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38466 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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