Today’s Track of the Day is “Old Wave,” from composer and electronic music pioneer Laurie Spiegel, off her 1980 LP release, The Expanding Universe. The entire album was created and processed with the help of the GROOVE System (short for Generated Real-time Output Operations on Voltage-controlled Equipment), an early computer music interface developed at Bell Labs in 1970. Much of Spiegel’s work with the GROOVE System focused on procedural music generation, using complex algorithms programmed into the machine to determine the structure and progression of her work. GROOVE took the input from an analog synth, and manipulation of dials and knobs by the performer allowed the expressive quality of the sound to be changed. But GROOVE wasn’t really a pick-up-and-play kind of machine, unless you happened to know the FORTRAN IV computer language needed to program patches on it.

The Expanding Universe looks like it’s out-of-print at present. A version of Spiegel’s “Appalachian Grove” can be heard on the generally well-regarded compilation OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music, which should kinda be your go-to in general if you want to hear more early electronic stuff. Beyond that, The Expanding Universe can be found online through various second-hand sources. I’m not going to tell you how or where to find the album, but I will say that if you’re a fan of early electronic music, it’s well worth seeking out.

[RadiOM interview - 5/18/79]


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