Classic 70s

As synthesisers became more accessible to pop and rock musicians in the early 1970s, an important stream of popular/progressive electronic music developed. The German avant-garde scene was at the heart of this movement with Klaus Schulze, Edgar Froese (Tangerine Dream), Eberhard Schoener and others diving into new oceans of sound.

But even before this surge in interest in electronically created sound, there was a history of experimentation challenging musical boundaries. Musique concrète appeared in the 1940s and was an important influence on Karlheinz Stockhausen, while tape experiments were popular with composers such as John Cage. In the 1950s, early sound generators (including the Theremin) were utilised for science fiction movies, one of the pinnacles being the 1958 soundtrack to the classic Forbidden Planet, composed/created by Bebe and Louis Barron. And of course, tribute must be paid to the revolutionary work of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop whose creations included the legendary Dr Who theme.

Although many 1970s bands made extensive use of synthesisers and emerging music technologies—Pink Floyd and other prog rock heavyweights spring immediately to mind—we should namecheck some further important 'classic electronic' artists. Names to explore include  Jean-Michel Jarre (France), Tomita (Japan), Vangelis (Greece), and Australian outfit Cybotron.