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Music for pleasure. Ok, but electronic music for pleasure? Perfume set to music? Music in your head which comes out dripping as a new sound? Yes, it’s true and all this is also part of the history of electronic music.

Let’s start with the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman (1904-1967). Hoffman was a chiropodist who got violin lessons as a child. One day he saw Jolly Coburn with his all-electric orchestra and heard the new instrument, the Theremin. Hoffman started to learn the instrument and also started to perform together with Coburn. As Hal Hope he performed with his own orchestra where the rich were invited to come on stage and perform with the Theremin. Hoffman did think of his orchestra as pure entertainment, his job came on the first place. One day a certain Miklos Rosza phoned him and asked whether he could perform on the Theremin for a special movie. Thus Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Spellbound had a frightening passage with unearthly music. For most people this movie was their first acquaintance with electronic music. Because of this success Hoffman was asked to perform on two other movies: The Lost Weekend and The Spiral Staircase. In between he performed parts of the movie music with an orchestra throughout the country. It was time to become the one and only Dr. Hoffman and forget about his job and Mr. Hope. In 1947 Capitol Records saw the possibilities to release a Theremin dominated record set; three 78 rpm discs named Music of the Moon. “It’s music that can affect the sensitive mind in a way that’s sometimes frightening” read the liner notes. The cover showed a barely dressed girl laying upon things that imagined moon rocks. The music sounded modern, different, but also soft and silky. Nowadays we would call it ‘lounge music’. Because of the record and his success Hoffman was asked to do more movie soundtracks. The subtle fragrance of sound was also linked to perfume (the popular Corday’s perfume) in 1948 with a new record: Perfume set to Music. Sponsored by Corday the six tracks on three records set the perfume to music. It became the most popular selling set and hold a number one position on Variety’s Chart. It was December after all. New on this recordings was the use of the Novachord, an electronic music instrument made by Hammond. Many years later Stockhausen pupil Holger Czukay recorded an album called Ode to Perfume, a mesmerizing soundtrack. In 1949 Capitol (smelling more sales of course) asked the team who created the former set to come with a new one. Under guidance of Billy May and his orchestra Hoffman once more charmed the music out of the Theremin for Music for Peace of Mind. Lounge music long before it was named that way. The six tracks had multi-layered Theremins and that was also new at the time. Hoffman was asked on more records and performances after this set. Still famous is his job on the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. Now he also performed live with orchestras in the classical section and was asked for television. His sounds can be heard on the background of comics as The Flintstones and The Jetsons. For as long as over thirty years he had performed in the front row of music innovation and made the Theremin that popular that some people thought he’d invented it. In 1967 he died of a heart attack. His music will live on forever, but the most exiciting ones are the three sets of records mentioned above.

Robert - Joe - Meek (1929-1967) had a musical world in his head. The producer and song writer was tone deaf, but made remarkable music. Meek was fascinated by electronics. He worked for the Royal Air Force (radar system) and Midlands Electricity Board. Later on he worked for Radio Luxembourg as technician. He was always busy with sound effects. In his hometown London he build his own studio. With the band The Tornados he released the record Telstar after the just launched satellite. The instrumental piece, recorded in his bathroom, is full of echo and other spacy effects. The song was a number one record in many countries. His second success was Have I The Right. The drums were added with footsteps on a staircase recorded with five microphones and a tambourine which hit the microphone. The track was speed up a little bit. Meek had some troubles with his personality and was gay in a time with less freedom of thought. It made him very insecure. In 1967 he had a quarrel with his landlady. First he shot the lady and then himself. With his insight in recording techniques Meek added a new level. On the house he lived and worked there is a sign which says: tekst ‘Joe Meek – Record Producer – “The Telstar Man” – 1929-1967 – Pioneer of Sound Recording Technology – Lived, Worked and Died Here’.
Meek made hundreds of records, one of the more famous ones is I Hear A New World by Rod Freeman and the Blue Man (1960). It has a splendid sound and lots of electronic effects. It was send to the retailers with the message that this record could be used as demonstration record for new stereo equipment. Meek: “I wanted to create a picture in music of what could be up there in outer space. At first I was going to record with music that was completely out of this world but realised that it would have very little entertainment value, so I kept the construction of the music down to earth.” And that was exactly the difference between the hard core electronic composers and the people on this page who say electronics as a medium to add colour to the music and even have a little bit of fun with it.

Like Samuel Hoffman the music of Raymond Scott (1908-1994 – Harry Warnow as is his official name) was used for cartoon soundtracks. Warner Bros. Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and others have all the tunes of Scott. But that’s not all folks! Scott made lots of commercials for radio and television and if that’s not enough made hundreds of musical tracks, composed, conducted, invented musical instruments and build his own huge studio full of electronic instruments. He started his career as a pianist in a sort of jazz band, the Quintette, he named it ‘descriptive jazz’. His songs had titles as "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals" and used parts of classical music in the arrangements. The people loved it. In 1950 he made his only serious classical composition, Suite for Violin and Piano. But far more interesting is has work as electronic music pioneer. Just as Joe Meek he was capable in creating a new way of recording sounds and had his own vision. He was a master in technical aspects of sound and therefor he established Manhattan Research Inc. (1946), which would "design and manufacture electronic music devices and systems for the creation of electronic music and musique concrete.” He used all kinds of devices like modulators and filters, but also invented his own like the Chromatic electronic drum generator, the Circle generator and instruments like the Clavivox and Electronium (pre model synthesizer). In a way Scott was the first to work with a sequence of sounds and thus invented one of the first electronic sequencers. Interesting at this point is the fact that Bob Moog (of the Moog synthesizer) worked for Scott and was deeply influenced by his ideas. Beside compositions for commercial goals he worked on a project named Soothing Sounds for Baby, ambient or chill out music to relax and calm by. Long before the music was re-invented later in the previous century. Scott was a loner, hard to get along with like more musicians with a special view of their own music. The ‘mad scientist’ as he was called was hired for Motown Records in 1969 to work at the electronic and research department. In 1987 suffered a stroke and was unable to work or communicate anymore, he died in 1994, forgotten and his maniac instruments obsolete. Lucky for us the Dutch record label Basta released a few discs with works of Scott. Just beautiful, music as well as the well done package, is Manhattan Research Inc. Once more it becomes clear that Raymond Scott is not a person to be missed.

What could be a more appropriate title for a record as Electric Storm by a ‘group’ called White Noise. Nothing more than intriguing. White Noise was the brain child of David Vorhaus. Vorhaus avoided his military service by moving to England. He studied classical music, but also followed a course in electronics at the Northern Poly. Vorhaus played double bass and was keen to become a professional musician. During his course he met a group named Unit Delta Plus, at that time a duo, Brian Hodgson and Delia Derbyshire. Both were working for BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. Vorhaus was immediately interested and was keen to combine his love for music and electronics. Vorhaus ideas brought him by Chris Blackwell of Island Records. After hearing two tracks Vorhaus got a cheque to realise his plans for a complete album instead of a single existing of electronics and sounds in the Musique Concrete style. Teamed up with Unit Delta Plus Vorhaus build a small studio in Camden Town, mostly existing of ‘borrowed’ gear and home-made apparatus. The place looked like a science lab. The songs were literally build by multi tracking notes, sounds, tapes and editing them again and again. After a year the tracks were finished and the album was released. There were of course no gigs or perfromances. Vorhaus never gave any interviews. But strange enough the record started selling and by word of mouth sold thousands of albums. The soothing sounds, the erotic undertone, the sighing girls, the bubbling sounds made the record almost a trip right into the bedroom. "I use voices a lot too, but not as conventional vocals. I always use a lot of voices, and if somebody having an orgasm in the background is used as part of one of the waveforms, it makes the sound more interesting, without the listener actually knowing what they're hearing." That doesn’t count for the track The Visitation which is an audio trip right into a fatal accident. If you listen carefully you can hear all the electronics and the work which is a true labour of love. Some of the music was inspired by early work of Pink Floyd. Five years after Electric Storm Vorhaus released a second album, Concerto for Synthesizer, but it lacked the tense atmosphere of his first one. In between Vorhaus worked for television and movies. Once he was even mentioned as the fifth Beatle, but that story was quite hazy. Electric Storm today still stands out as a record with a new approach and sound.