Resonant Thoughts: Edward Tatnall Canby’s “Synthesized Music” (1955)

[The writer is referring to the recording, The Sounds and Music of the RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer, 1955]

“The fancy music that is here synthesized is absolutely astonishing. Few of us would have imagined that so much progress had been made. But most listeners won’t be able to suppress a snicker or two, in the midst of their amazement—for this music, in all its variety, still has a grotesquely inhuman quality that comically defies the very meaning of music […]

The machine, having no composer-of-the-future and no new musical language to operate upon, is forced to use present stock and, absurdly, to go about imitating the very instruments and performers that it is supposed eventually to supersede. A fine contradiction!”

– Edward Tatnall Canby, “Synthesized Music”, Harper’s (September 1955)

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