Instruments Hold Key For Electronic Music

By Ron Schlachter for billboard Magazine Nov 2, 1968Ruth White Moog

CHICAGO – Although electronic music has been on the scene for some 15 years, it is now on a threshold.

This is the evaluation of Robin McBride, product manager of Limelight Records.  The avant-garde label of the Mercury Record Corp. is noted for its produce in this area.

“The next six months will see some surprising developments in records”, said McBride, “and the next two years will see broad use of electronic music and hopefully commercially available instruments for this music.

“I do believe strongly that as electronic instruments are developed, they will be heavily used in the pop field.  Right now, a lot of the instruments smack of scotch tape and bailing wire.  Many of the musicians can’t afford the money to have a company put the instruments together.

“There now seems to be a dichotomy.  People with the needed technical knowledge are creating art and classical music.  However, I foresee the group in pop music gaining the technical knowledge.”

Limelight recently signed a group out of San Francisco called the “500 Foot Horse.”  The group’s leader, Cork Marcheshi, experimented with transistors and found he could make tone generators.  He has installed one in the group’s lead guitar.  Among his other homemade creations, Marcheshi has produced a touch sensitive percussion sound.

Ruth White, and artist composer on the West Coast, will soon have her first album, “Seven Trumps From the Tarot Cards.”  It is released on Limelight.

“Ruth has told me that it is quite a challenge working with existing equipment,”  said McBride.  “Her ear tells her a lot of the electronic music is sounding the same.

“At this point I would say that most electronic music is studio music.  I see it coming as performance music.  I also think there will be studio creations of electronic music that will be popular.

“The computer stigma is really a false stigma. Like any other music, electronic music can be as interesting or boring as the performer cares to make it.  The talent is still in the composer-arranger.

“We are not even close to where a machine will take over a valid arrangement.  The mind is still superior.  With electronic music, it’s just that we’ve come up with a new type of instrument.”

While portable electronic instruments are greatly needed for live performances, one very basic instrument in this field has been the market for some time.  This is the combo organ.

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