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Author Topic: Raymond Scott and his Electronium  (Read 6794 times)

arconaut

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Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« on: March 07, 2005, 06:07:36 pm »

Hey everyone,

Since Bob Olhsson had mentioned Motown's purchase of an early Moog in another thread, and yet another  thread is about "otherworldly gear", I was hoping that I might be able to ply some Raymond Scott stories out of him. I understand that Mark Mothersbaugh has the electronium now, but that it doesn't work. There are a few recordings of it around and it is truly and wonderfully weird.

Was the electronium the main focus of Scott's work for Motown, or were there other ideas in development?

Thanks,

Noah
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Brian Kehew

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2005, 03:52:24 am »

I'm no expert, but I believe Raymond had a major hand (if not THE design of) the Motown Studios here in LA.

The Electronium is indeed at Mark Mothersbaugh's company, Mutato. It is far from working. ALthough it is not REALLY a synthesizer as much as a logic-based music composer. The computing it does COULD be re-done with results on a modern system....
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arconaut

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2005, 04:37:38 pm »


I think it would've been amazing if Motown had actually achieved something with the electronium, that bass line generator track from Mahattan Research is way ahead of its time. I know you could achieve the same results (or "better") with a modern computer, but I am also a Gameboy musician, if that puts any spin on my perspective.

Also, a little bit off topic, but... Brian, I saw Moog Cookbook a few years ago at Arlene Grocery. Afterward, I was standing outside and a woman walked up to me and started complimenting me on the performance. I thought, "they were wearing jumpsuits and helmets! Why does she think I was in the band?". And I wasn't wearing Chucks, either. Now - Where's that Xmas album?

Anyway, Raymond Scott is a bit of a hero to me and I thought Bob Ohlsson might have some stories. Berry Gordy and Scott seem like such an odd pair...

Noah

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Brian Kehew

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2005, 02:02:08 pm »

An odd pair - but I can see how each knew the other was "up to something smart". But how they connected I'll never know...

Moog Cookbook at Arlene's - I remember it well, especially trying to fit two guys and tons of gear into two cabs with no roadies. Ah, the good old days....
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2005, 10:19:14 am »

I don't know much about Motown in LA and never heard of Raymond Scott.

There were three Motown LA studios.

The first was a partnership between Don Costa and Berry Gordy called DCP for Don Costa Productions. Costa's nephew Guy had been brought in from Bell Sound (in New York) to be the chief engineer. Guy would end up as Motown's vice president of engineering when the Motown studio operation finally closed.

The second was leased for a year or so from Dave Hassinger. It was later operated by Hassinger as Hit Factory West. This is where the final mix of the "What's Going On" album was done by Larry Miles. Larry and I were the only two people to ever hold every recording engineering position at Motown in Detroit. If anybody reading this knows Larry, a bunch of his old friends really miss him.

The third was a cost-no-object two room facility that had been built from the ground up by a dentist and intended to be LA's premier facility. It was named Poppy Studios. Unfortunately the cream of LAs leading engineers couldn't get a decent recording in the big room because of severe acoustical problems and Motown ended up buying the studio for pennies on the dollar. The acoustical limitations weren't that much of a problem because of our 100% overdubbing approach to production. I understand they tried a lot of things to fix it up but most of the producers chose to do their rhythm sessions elsewhere. We did build a third mix room there that used one of the three 20 input Electrodyne consoles that we had built after we went 16 track. This was replaced with a Neve after they went 24.

lord

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2005, 05:40:06 pm »

Scott's utopian vision was that eventually machines could produce perfect pop music without human intervention. I think it's obvious how someone like Gordy would be interested in this concept.
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compasspnt

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2005, 07:11:01 pm »

If anyone has not already checked it out, I highly recommend browsing the entire website dedicated to Raymond Scott:

http://raymondscott.com/

Listen to the mp3's...you will be amazed.

I was privileged to meet Mr. Scott at Bob Moog's Trumansburg, NY studio in the '60's, but I must admit that at the time I really didn't know the full scope of who he was, and what he had done...I really regret that now!  There are a lot of things I would have liked to have seen in person, and a lot of questions I would have liked to have asked.  But he probably wouldn't have allowed any of this anyway.

I have a great photo of Mr. Moog with his assistant, and my other synthesis instructor, Jon Weiss, inside the Trumansburg studio, where I first saw  and operated a synthesiser.  It's inside of a pdf file, though, and I'm not sure how to "get it out" to post it!
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Consul

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2005, 09:02:49 pm »

At one time, I had a SoundPage thing from an old magazine that had three Raymond Scott compositions on it. It ended up getting destroyed by means I can't remember (probably an animal). That really ticked me off.
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Darren Landrum

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Brian Kehew

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2005, 06:41:16 am »

Send me the PDF - I'll have it broken into parts for you to deal with. I have Moog stuff that may bring back memories in trade.

Jon Weiss - somewhat legendary mysterious figure; never did much after Moog, but while there, he taught many of the world's greatest - and the results are on albums all over the world. Chris Swansen is another - the "resident composer" of Moog. A classic "hippie days" title! (Do Korg or Alesis have one?)

I'm gonna start a Moog thread, to keep this on Raymond Scott territory...
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arconaut

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2005, 10:08:05 am »

Hey Folks,

The three electronium tunes on the Keyboard Magazine soundpage were:

Twilight in Turkey  
In the Hall of the Mountain Queen
The Pygmy Taxi Corporation

All of which are found on the excellent "Manhattan Research" CD, so you won't even have to put a penny on it to listen.

By the way, I have a two-month old baby at home and have attempted to play "Soothing Sounds For Baby" for her (volume 1, of course), but it seems to have the opposite of its intended effect! Maybe it should have been called "Music to not hear music by".

Noah
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donnie7

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Respect is due for Raymond Scott...
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2005, 01:42:49 pm »

In regards to Raymond Scott, he's one of my favorite and, rarely spoken about audio heroes. In the 30's and 40's he was an awesome arranger and musician. Recording in big band/bop styles. In the early 50's he went on to found his own independent recording studios rivaling any commercial facility by at least 10 years. And he built everything by hand. The foundation of our audio heritage rests strongly on the shoulders of those who came before us. Raymond helped to form the foundation in the use of electronic music for television and radio advertising. Raymond and Bob Moog even hooked up on several synthesis projects. I'd call Raymond Scott the Nikola Tesla of our golden audio age. Forum members please, let us give credit where its due. He's seldom talked about and am glad it was brought up. Pioneers are gonna get it right in the back. And I'm here to help take those arrows out. I give thanks to the all the contributions he made. May Raymond rest in peace. Big ups, props and nuff respect to Bob Olhsson, Bob Katz, Terry Manning and Fletcher for telling it like it is, maintaining kool headz under fire and, honoring their craft. With love and respect to everyone on REP.
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Brian Kehew

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2005, 06:28:19 am »

Thanks, Donnie, nicely put...

Raymond was certainly ahead of Britain's now-known maverick, Joe Meek. Maybe the only parallel is Alan Blumlein in 1930's/'40's Britain.

Certainly, compared to Meek, Raymond Scott was the more skilled both electronically and musically: I actually prefer his traditional jazz group work to his electronic ideas, but his. It's suprising no one has named any gear after him yet!

We used to have his Clavivox at our studio - quite a beautiful and interesting instrument, but you can also see why the Minimoog was the choice of the masses instead.
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tombola

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Re: Raymond Scott and his Electronium
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2005, 03:23:02 am »

At risk of going further OT, my son really enjoys the 'Soothing Sounds For Baby' CDs. The albums are very interestingly structured - each has a few up-tempo tracks, then a hypnotic, very minimal 10-minute long track at the end, which is presumably meant to send them to sleep. Certainly worked with Alex - when my wife was home alone with him, she said that SSFB was one of of the only things that calmed him down. Raymond Scott really was a genius!
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