Electronic Music- 20th Century


Electronic Music- 20th Century: An electronic music timeline based on the 20th century.

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The following timeline outlines the major events in the history of Electronic Music. The years listed are when events occurred, not when instruments and equipment were created (which is often a few years before they were released to the public). For instance, the Moog synthesizer was invented in 1964, but not released commercially until 1967.

1900 – Italian futurists begin experimenting with sound through use of radio waves and audio frequencies.

1906 – Lee De Forest invents the triode vacuum tube (or Audion), which allows for electronic amplification of sound waves. This technology is eventually used by composers to amplify natural sounds or create new ones from scratch.

1912 – Futurist Luigi Russolo publishes The Art of Noises, which advocates for an art form that would construct sounds out of noise. He proposes a number of musical instruments to produce these noises, known as intonarumori, which are never built during his lifetime.

1913 – Henry Cowell’s “Aeolian Harp,” one of the first pieces of modern music to utilize amplified sounds, premiers at Carnegie Hall in New York City

Electronic Music – 20th Century

Electronic music- 20th Century

1938 – The Telharmonium, the first electronic musical instrument created by Thaddeus Cahill and built by the Telharmonium Corporation in New York City is played over telephone lines in a concert from New York to Philadelphia.

1946 – The Hammond Novachord, an early polyphonic synthesizer, is introduced. It contains twelve oscillators, each of which has seven basic waveforms and three frequency-modulated sub-oscillators.

1948 – The term “musique concrete” is coined by Pierre Schaeffer to describe the first compositions made entirely from tape recordings of natural sounds.

1949 – John Cage’s Imaginary Landscape No. 1 for 12 radios, performed live on New York radio station WNYC, marks the beginning of electronic music as we know it. The piece consists of multiple simultaneous broadcasts of radio static, weather reports, music and other sounds that are combined live by two performers who control 12 radios and a recording of test tones on phonograph records.

1959 – Harry F. Olson publishes his book Music, Physics, and Engineering in which he describes the acoustical properties of electronic musical instruments using analogies to electrical engineering concepts such as gain, feedback

In the early 20th century, electronic music was performed using devices such as the theremin and Ondes Martenot. The 1960s saw the emergence of live electronic music performance using a range of electronic instruments including the synthesizer and sequencer. In the 1970s, electronic music began having a significant influence on popular music, with the adoption of polyphonic synthesizers, electronic drums, drum machines, and turntables.

The term “electronic dance music” (EDM) is generally used to describe dance music styles that have emerged since the early 1990s. The term has been criticized by some artists.

Electronic music is a blanket term for music which consists of sounds generated by electronic means. The term was originally reserved for music that was electronically produced on tape, but the use of electronics has expanded to include all music which uses electronics in any way, including live performance and recordings of live performances. The term electronic music covers a wide range of musical styles, and is not limited to the period since the development of electronic instruments (from around the first half of the 20th century).

Electronic music was born at the beginning of the 20th century with the first electronic instruments, such as the theremin. In the mid 1940s and 1950s, new electronic instruments emerged, as well as popular mainstream artists such as Les Paul began creating innovative arrangements in studios using multitrack recording and tape delay. This led to new genres like musique concrète, electroacoustic music, and avant-garde or modern classical.

In the 1960s and 70s, synthesizers were introduced into rock music and other popular genres. In addition to greater use of synthesisers, rock musicians also explored wider use of audio effects (such as flanging) and recording techniques (such as phasing). Electronic sounds were found in progressive rock throughout this period. By this time

The first half of the 20th century was the age of mechanical music. At the beginning of the century, most music was still performed by human musicians playing acoustic instruments, while at the end of the century, most music is produced electronically by mechanical means. This article traces some key events related to this transition in two areas:

* Music production- (1) how it was made, and (2) how it was recorded and reproduced.

* Music composition- (3) how it was composed, and (4) types of new music that were enabled by mechanical means.

The development of electronic instruments was a huge part of this story that I do not cover here. The history of synthesizers is well documented elsewhere, but let me point out one important omission from electronic instruments that I think needs more attention: electronic percussion. Not only have electronic drums been with us much longer than synthesizers (the first one appeared in 1929), they have been much more successful commercially. The electric guitar may be bigger than the synthesizer in terms of total sales, but the drum machine has been in many more homes over its lifetime.

I also do not address popular culture directly in this article. My focus is on serious classical and jazz music (though I’d like to write

1874 – The Telharmonium (Dynamophone)

Invented by Thaddeus Cahill, this was the first music synthesizer. It weighed 200 tons and used water turbines to create electricity. It was never commercially successful.

1899 – First Recording of Synthesized Sound

The first recording of synthesized sound was made by Sidney Moseley.


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