You might not know about Ruth White, but you should! Born in 1925, she was an electronic music composer, pioneer, and used the Moog synthesizer in her early explorations of sound.
Her recordings ‘7 Trumps From the Tarot Cards and Pinions’ in 1968, ‘Flowers of Evil’ in 1969, and ‘Short Circuits’ in 1970 all featured the Moog synth.
Her career began by studying music and composition at Carnegie Tech in Pennsylvania where she received three degrees. She could play piano, violin, cello, harp, clarinet, and horn. George Antheil - an avant-garde composer who was known for his film compositions - was her teacher.
Her first studio was self-built in 1964. Later, it was on display at The Fiske Museum for Musical Instruments in Pomona, California!
In 1967 she was commissioned by the University of California to create the music for a performance titled 7 Trumps From the Tarot Card and Pinions, and In 1969 she recorded Flowers of Evil. The latter was a record based on French poet Charles Baudelaire’s volume of poetry Les Fleurs du mal. Baudelaire’s words were recited over electronic music. In 1970 she released Short Circuits, which according to Discogs, was lighter in comparison to her previous works.
Like Wendy Carlos, she used these releases to showcase the possibilities of synthesizers in classical music.
Not only was she a musician and composer, but she eventually served as Vice President to The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. She also formed a film company through Cartridge Television properties, where she produced several stop animation films.
She was a close friend of Paul Beaver (who I’ve mentioned on here before.. he was one of the few Moog session musicians who knew how to use the newly invented synth back the late 60s and early 70s). Her and Paul were invited to record with the legendary Tonto's Expanding Head Band at one point!
A pretty impressive human being, if I do say so myself. Flowers of Evil is on Spotify, although you might need to find her other records via Discogs.
References: Wiki, Discogs, The Norton Grove Dictionary of Women Composers.
4 days ago
Excerpt from a Keyboard Mag 1977 interview with legend Isao Tomita, electronic music pioneer.
KM: How did you come into contact with the synthesizer?
Tomita: It started when I listened to Wendy Carlos' "Switched-On Bach" for the first time. I had known that NHK [the Japan Broadcasting Corporation] was spending hundreds of millions of yen setting up an electronic music studio, but I wasn't really interested in working in them, because they had a large staff of composers, engineers, and sound-effects people. In the case of normal music, melodies, chords, and rhythms are expressed with notes, and consequently there is a solid object, the score, which can be discussed in the same way that one would discuss a blueprint of a building. But the concept of a sound that hasn't yet been electronically created exists in the mind of one person and can't be discussed in the same way. For instance, suppose that there was no such thing as a violin in the world, and that the sound of the violin existed in the mind of one person. The person couldn't convey the sound until it was actually produced by a violin. Because of this limitation, the development of electronic music has tended to be rather haphazard. But the synthesizer can be operated by one person, alone. This means that a music producer can directly create the sounds he or she wants by connecting circuits. It was this possibility that made me think electronic music was worth producing. I was impressed by "Switched-On Bach," and subsequently I bought a relatively expensive synthesizer.
KM: What equipment did you buy at that time?
Tomita: I bought a Moog III and a sequencer. The operation of this equipment is pretty complicated, but of course it's easier to handle than the electronic music devices of decades ago, and much less bulky than if vacuum tubes were still being used instead of transistors. And once you understand how it works, the equipment of today lets you handle sounds to perfection.
References: Los Angeles Times, Keyboard Mag.
2 days ago
Yamaha CS-01 
An analog monophonic single oscillator synthesizer. This synth was small, portable and battery powered, yet packed a big punch.
The CS-01 contains controls for glissando, an ADSR envelope generator (attack, decay, sustain, release), pitch & mod wheels. Available waveforms include triangle, sawtooth, square, and narrow. There is also a pulse width modulation (PWM) waveform with a separate slider controlling the PWM speed. (PWM is a method of reducing the average power delivered by an electrical signal, by effectively chopping it up into discrete parts).
The synth features a 12dB resonant VCF (voltage-controlled filter). Although a second version (Yamaha CS-01 MKII) was released later that had an improved 24dB filter. The latter version had black casing with green lettering- not seen here but I’ll post in my stories.
The CS-01 was sold as a part of Yamaha's Producer Series, including a headphone amp, stereo mixer, and headphones.
Lastly, there was an optional breath controller. What is a breath controller, you ask? A musician could insert a breath controller into their mouth and blow through it. The air velocity was then measured and turned into control data. The control data could be used to open a filter or another parameter to manipulate. A popular synth that had this feature was the Yamaha DX7.
Even though it was marketed towards novices and first time synth buyers, according to Reverb, Synth Museum, and Vintage Synth Explorer, it supposedly sounds pretty good, especially for nice thick bass sounds.
So if you’re looking for a bass synth that is vintage, analog and on the more affordable side, you can get this synth for around $300 these days.
Notable users: OMD, Chick Corea, Dust Brothers.
References: Vintage Synth Explorer, Reverb, eBay, Retro Synth Ads, Wiki, Synth Museum, Sweetwater.