Creative Non-Fiction Essay—The Problem of Persistent Technology Narratives and Practioner Use: The Case of the Moog Synthesizer and Moogfest, or Will Analog Survive?

Send by emailSend by email

Woodrow Hood, Wake Forest University

 


About This Work

This essay deals with some rather esoteric topics: a musical festival called Moogfest, digital and analog synthesizers, and performances by some known and unknown musicians. This article also contains brief histories as well as examples of contemporary trends and practices.


Underneath it all is the seemingly irresistible attractiveness of the cultural narrative of progress. The inherent danger of our desire for progress is the idea that the new will (or must) replace the old in order to give us a satisfactory sense of forward motion. But in this progression, we may often mistake the new for the better when it is actually less than. When we talk about technology, the progress narrative takes charge and has the very real danger of limiting our relationship to tech.


We crave the latest upgrade to our electronic tools: bigger, better, and faster. Improvements in technologies offer the potential to demonstrably improve life for us. Better tools can make us more productive, improve our health, and liberate us from drudgery. That may be true in some professions where technological advances almost always improve productivity but that becomes less true perhaps when we are looking at the making of art, the expression of cultures and humanity itself.


What this small, electronic music festival highlights are the latest advances in electronic music production in performance. Right alongside the latest and greatest in musical tech, we find the fetishistic use and love of some of the earliest electronic instruments. Old technology that should be dead or lost to the advance of time is on proud display in these live performances. Not merely out of a sense of nostalgia but also out of the love of the sound and feel of the human interaction with these machines


Here, we find a gap or conflict between the way we use technology and the way that we talk about technology. Moogfest is not easily contained by any master narrative. Moogfest demonstrates that some older, analog technologies still have value when employed in the expression of human experience.

 


 

Hansel and Gretel are alive and well
And they're living in Berlin
She is a cocktail waitress
He had a part in a Fassbinder film
And they sit around at night now drinking schnapps and gin
And she says: Hansel, you're really bringing me down
And he says: Gretel, you can really be a bitch
He says: I've wasted my life on our stupid legend.
When my one and only love was the wicked witch.
She said: What is history?
And he said: History is an angel being blown backwards into the future
He said: History is a pile of debris
And the angel wants to go back and fix things
To repair the things that have been broken
But there is a storm blowing from Paradise
And the storm keeps blowing the angel backwards into the future
And this storm, this storm is called Progress
—The Dream Before" by Laurie Anderson




Replacement Technology and the Narrative of Progress.


The narrative of progress is inextricably linked to the world of electronics. One might even say that "progress" is the ultimate myth that guides the world of electronics (production and consumption). Moore's Law is the ultimate example. According to this "law," computing must always become faster. Gordon E. Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted that the number of transistors on integrated circuits would double about every two years back in a 1965 paper for Electronics Magazine. His prediction of doubling computer chip performance has mostly held true, taking into account the decreasing size of transistors and their increasing speed.


The dominance of the focus on progress implies that the negative of progression is not just stagnancy but regression. In part, this paper is a call for continuous and unrelenting critical study of our ongoing relationship with technology and perhaps this deep-seated and very human fear that if we are not clearly and markedly moving forward then we are automatically and inexorably moving backwards into an abyss.


In conversation and on the news, we hear repeated tropes about replacement technologies. You can throw away your old phones because the latest smart phone will make it obsolete. We seem obsessed with the idea of an iPhone or iPad "killer," that new smart phone or tablet computer that will outsell, crush and eventually delete i-gadgets from the marketplace.1 A quick web search reveals about 699,000 hits on "iPad killer" and about 730,000 hits on "iPhone killer." A website with the domain name www.ipadkiller.net proclaims that "This site is dedicated to all information related to tablets competing with and hopefully defeating the iPad. Dubbed iPad Killers, these competitors will hopefully produce a higher quality and cheaper product than Apple's latest innovation (Ipadkiller.com).” Basically the site is a product comparison page for iPad competitors and its hook is that they will bring you, the customer, the replacement tech that will "defeat" the iPad, replacing it with something newer, better, faster and stronger.


Obviously, through human history some tools do seem to disappear. The indoor, porcelain toilet thankfully banished most outhouses. The telephone replaced the teletype. Compact discs killed the audio cassette. Sony no longer makes Walkman portable cassette players, but digital media players. Consignment shops are full of abandoned VCR players and videocassettes that few people seem to want.


But we also have evidence that not all technologies disappear when something new arrives in the marketplace. TV did not kill the radio star, exactly. Radio still exists, just maybe not at the peak its heyday and in different forms. Broadcast television is still more popular than cable or satellite in most countries around the world, primarily due to infrastructure, cost and availability. Film did not "kill" theatre; just try to get tickets to the latest, hottest Broadway show on the spot. Home theatre systems have not shuttered the cineplex. Vinyl record sales increase every year, most music recording artists releasing albums simultaneously on vinyl, compact disc (though manufacturers are threatening to delete this form of media in the next few years) and digital download.


As is often the case in academic essays, this article has to go the long way about to get to (hopefully) a point of some merit. Though the bulk of this essay deals with some rather esoteric topics (a medium-sized music festival in the mountains, a possibly far too brief history of the invention of the musical instrument known as the synthesizer, digital and analog synthesis, descriptions of performances by some known and unknown musicians), this article will go beyond those topics. My purpose here is to explore a cultural oscillation, perhaps a transition. Underneath it all is the seemingly irresistible attractiveness of the cultural narrative of progress, or our desire for a sense of progress, to be more precise. We seem caught in a binary system (stagnancy and progress) that perpetuates itself ad infinitum in the way we think and talk about technology. Much like the angel in Laurie Anderson's song (based on writings by Walter Benjamin), this article is also about the potential danger inherent in that master narrative.


For my part, I am choosing a very small point at which to start: a case study on the idea of replacement technology. For my example, I will explore the world of electronic music as exhibited by Moogfest, a musical festival dedicated to the work and memory of Robert Moog. In the end, I'll offer some thoughts and pointed questions regarding the study of how we construct our relationship with each other and our tools. What makes a music festival thrive is a sense of mission, a dedication to an idea or aesthetic. For some of these performers, performing at Moogfest is more akin to a pilgrimage, trekking to the shrine (the shrine of Moog Music), to pay respect to the spirit of Bob Moog and his offspring, the multitude of electronic instruments that owe a debt of gratitude to his work.



Bob Moog and Don Buchla and the Idea of the Synthesizer


The tale of the invention of the synthesizer involves two different groups working independently of each other in the 1960s. While Bob Moog and composer Herb Deutsch were working on their synthesizer in upstate New York, Don Buchla was building synthesizers for experimental composers such as Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender in San Francisco.2 Though clearly both Moog and Buchla were the creators of the synthesizer, many consider Moog to be the official inventor due to his series of 1960s patents on low pass filters and the voltage-controlled subtractive synthesizer that used a piano-style keyboard.3 Buchla's synthesizer, often referred to as a Buchla Box, did not so easily please an overwhelming majority of musicians at the time mostly because, unlike Moog’s, his synthesizer did not look like any other existing musical instrument. His synthesizer primarily used a series of knobs, touch pads and switches as controllers, not piano style keys, though for true gear heads, Buchla's design still holds real fascination.


What Moog seemed to understand was that new technologies, in order to be adoption friendly, needed to serve as an overlay for a pre-existing paradigm. In his case, by attaching to his synthesizer something familiar, like a piano keyboard, customers could pick up the instrument and have some basic knowledge of how to manipulate it to produce sound. Later, synthesizers would be built for every piece of popular music equipment, including guitar, drum, horn and woodwinds.


Moog originally became fascinated with electronic music when he encountered the Theremin, a strange instrument invented by Léon Theremin with antennae and oscillators familiar from soundtracks like Spellbound and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Moog started selling the plans and constructing them as a hobby that later led to a small business. But in order to play the Theremin, the musician would have to develop a whole new way of learning and thinking. The device had no familiar keyboard or strings, only a series of knobs and antennae that the musician would wave her hands over to produce the sound.4

In the early years of electronic music, many manufacturers were intent on proving that their equipment could produce legitimate music. Clara Rockmore's impressive use of the Theremin and Wendy Carlos' elaborate synthesizer symphonies were all based on the Classical music repertoire and both were engaged in the desire of proving that electronic instruments were just as versatile and valuable as string or brass instruments. However, on a parallel track, a group of experimental artists (John Cage, David Behrman, Alvin Lucier and others) were much more interested in creating "weird" sounds, most notably in film soundtrack in early science fiction films such as Louis and Bebe Barron's score for Forbidden Planet (1956). Many of these weird sounds would begin to surface in pop music. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones took to electronic music in the late 1960s and early 1970s but primarily as sweetener, adding new and interesting sounds to the musical mix for depth and variety. But it wasn't until Moog's design that synthesizers would find their way into mainstream popular music. Now musicians could look like musicians and not like mad scientists plotting with their strange devices for world domination.


Despite the familiarity of the keyboard, Moog's synthesizer was not all that different Buchla's Box. Each instrument consisted of a series of modules that needed to be manipulated through the turning of a series of knobs, switches, faders, and, in the very early days, patch bays. Each voice or sound would still have to be created by a musician who understood at least the basics of electronics, the internal modules of the synthesizer and how to manipulate all of the components. Moog, after all, had started selling Theremin kits through electronics magazines to people who were electronics hobbyists. All of the components he used in his machines were pieces that every hobbyist would have been familiar with, though maybe not in the particular arrangement of a Theremin or, later, a synthesizer.


Moog's not only added the familiar keyboard but shrank the modules and components of the synthesizer down by staying abreast of the latest technological advances. Some of his earliest machines resembled enormous telephone operator switchboard patch bays and could not be moved without real risk of damaging the machine. The Minimoog in 1970 changed all of that. The instrument was no larger than many electric organs of the day and could easily be boxed and moved around on tour by musicians. The Minimoog would dominate most electronic music of the 1970s.


Just as analog synthesizers were hitting their peak in the 1970s, the switch to digital began. Digital synthesizers hit the market in the 1980s and still dominate sales today. The assumption for the past few decades has been that eventually the analog synthesizer would disappear; digital would replace analog just like the digital cd would replace analog vinyl. Manufacturers would close because nobody would be interested in buying or using them.


By the later part of the 1980s, manufacturers were producing synthesizers with basic memory functions. A musician could record or sample a sound and then play it through the keyboard. Popular musicians adopted the technology rapidly. Today, cheap digital synthesizers can be found in any department store that sells musical instruments. They can range from the simplest of toys to some of the most complicated musical instruments available. They are easily available and can fit into any musician's budget, sampling and playing any sound imaginable. Anybody who has had a few piano lessons can pick up a digital synthesizer and play it.



Analog to Digital


The synthesizer, most simply put, is a musical instrument that pulls together a variety of components to produce sound. A basic tone is produced in an oscillator and then manipulated through gates, filters and a variety of means to produce a variety of timbres.


FM (frequency modulation) synthesis is a type of synthesis in which a simple waveform or frequency is first generated and then, through a series of physical modules inside the machine, modulated or manipulated. Paired with amplitude modulation, the result is a much richer, more complicated, nuanced sound with a greater variety of harmonic overtones than the original base tone. Or, inversely, the sound can be damaged and distorted to the point that it no longer resembles the original tone but the results are nevertheless appealing or useful to the artist.


Basic digital synthesizers are often known as "preset" keyboards. Analog synths do not come with any pre-programmed sounds. Digital synthesizers are easier to learn to play because the musician needs to simply select a preset (synthesizer horns, bells, pianos) and play a song. Though endlessly versatile, one of the major disadvantages of the old analog synthesizers was the lack of the ability to preset a particular sound. In order to switch between one voice and another, the musician would have to slide faders and twist knobs in the correct series and the right amount to get back to a sound they wanted. Of course, that is difficult to do in the middle of a concert.


Digital synthesis is less complicated, cheaper to produce and purchase and easier to use. A piece of pre-recorded sound is stored on a device and then played or manipulated by some means of interface such as a piano style keyboard, computer keyboard and an ever-increasing number of other means (generally known in the DJ world as "controllers"). All of this unsurprisingly easily positioned digital synthesis as the major source of electronic music on the market since the early 1980s.


These two types of machines (analog and digital) could be considered polar ends on a continuum of aesthetic approaches in the production of electronic music. A musician's proclivities towards analog or digital synthesis may give us insight into how we think of art via electronics--creativity as progress in the parallel worlds of art and electronics.


In basic digital synthesis, the creative act is not the invention of an original sound but in the creative composition and arrangement of the sounds/notes/chords into a new work of musical art. An artist picks a preset, writes the music and plays that music using that preset sound. Taken to a further point on that continuum, many contemporary DJs and music producers are considered inventive because they have developed garage sale sensibilities--finding old, forgotten-about sounds on vinyl and then recontextualizing those old sounds in new ways through new compositions.


In analog synthesis, the inventive act comes from an artist (maybe referred to as a sound designer or producer) who may either create their own modular machine or sit down with a pre-built modular machine, depending on their expertise and preference. The job of this artist is to create a desirable sound, possibly something new, exciting and interesting. That artist may then use that sound in an original composition or they may sell that sound off to a corporate manufacturer to become a new preset in a hardware or software synth. Then these sounds appear in new music by top-selling popular music artists like Lady Gaga or Rihanna.



Analog to Digital and then Back Again


Many consumers seem to want to be able to pick up an electronic gadget and use it. Very few seem to want to sit down with a technical manual and learn how to get it to work. This idea can be seen in the great leaps forward with Apple's Mac computers and Microsoft's Windows interfaces. Users could just point and click and not have to remember all of the keyboard commands. Some users may not know what the F1-F12 keys at the top of the computer keyboard are for; smart phones and tablet PCs have mostly removed these types of shortcut keys completely. This holds true for synthesizers and the expectation is that the analog synthesizers would suffer the same fate at the old non-Windows IBM PCs.


In a 1982 newspaper article, Larry Fast (the man behind the Synergy and many pop hits of the 1980s) predicted the demise of analog synths:



Analog synthesizers, which work with the intact sound waves (he compares it to "water pressure in musical terms") have gone as far as they can while still remaining cost efficient. Digital synthesizers, which encode the sound wave allowing for exact reproduction, are the electronic instruments of tomorrow . . . Fast says that eventually, using existing technology, the digital instruments will eliminate any complaints about the synthesizers sounding cold and inhuman, or lacking subtlety (Brunt).


Bob Moog himself got wrapped up in the analog to digital transition and even wrote ad copy for one of the early Fairlight digital synths: The vanguard technology of the 80s is digital electronics--a medium that promises all the musical resources of tape music and analogue synthesisers, plus a wealth of new resources that are now becoming available to musicians (Scott From Canada).


Subtext--analog is stagnant, while the new, digital technology is "the future." In essence, analog sound is dead, passé. One technology replaces the old. You don't need your old analog machines because the digital ones can do what they do and more.


The truth of the matter is that analog synthesis and their "cold and inhuman" sounds never truly disappeared. With the advent of cheap, digital synthesizers in the 1980s, artists became concerned. If the newness of the quality of sound was a selling point for your music then how would the music sound new, better, or different from everybody else? Like the great rock guitarists who had focused on inventing new ways of playing their electric guitars, producing never-heard-before sounds, electronic music artists had the same concerns.


As a series of modules that can be added or removed, large electronic instrument manufacturers like Yamaha and Casio began to build hybrid machines.5 These manufacturers would replace the old analog oscillators (sound generators) with digital ones and install analog components, post-oscillator, that could manipulate the original tones into something fresh and new.


Clearly, the digital synthesizer, with its umbilical MIDI connection to the personal computer, was a better piece of technology that would and should supplant its analog progenitors. In Analog Days, Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco point out one of the main difficulties with old analog machines and their impending eclipse by the digital ones. Once a sound designer had plugged and patched the cords, moved the faders and twisted all of the knobs:



It was not humanly possible to remember how you had set up all the patch wires and the numerous knobs. There was no guarantee you could find exactly the same sound again. That was the beauty and the frustration of analog synthesis (121).


Setting up for a public concert would have been a nightmare. Each keyboard would have to be set and locked. And for each sound, there would have to be a completely different keyboard. Thus, it seemed reasonable that machines that would fix these problems would replace them. But the digital synthesizer did not replace its analog progenitor; the two merged. By the 1990s though, digital parts were becoming ever cheaper and faster with a tendency to push the old analog circuitry out of the machines. A number of artists would begin to pine for the old analog sounds, saving their old Moog synths and Buchla boxes instead of tossing them out. And these weren't just older musicians, but many young artists were pulling Moogs and Theremins out in concerts. Not only would FM synthesis change digital machines into hybrids, but cheap analog/digital converters began to hit the markets by the 1990s, making it possible to merge the two worlds easily at will.


Digital synthesizers (software and hardware) now often try to exactly mimic their 1960s and 1970s analog kin. Today, not only are analog modular synthesizers still manufactured and sold, but whole new generations of young musicians are starting to use them. In Strange Sounds, Taylor points to the return of analog technology, particularly synthesizers, "because some musicians prefer the sounds of these older instruments and in part because these older instruments have fewer automated features than today's instruments and thus allow musicians a greater degree of control." Evidence of this is in fine relief at Moogfest every autumn. Citing Mark Vail's Vintage Synthesizers, a compendium for collecting, selling and purchasing old synthesizers, Taylor goes onto to say that "these and other old synthesizers can now sell for more money than they cost when they were new" (97).


In Listening through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music, Joanna Demers argues that:



The continued popularity of vintage synthesizers (as well as their software facsimiles) . . . speaks to the fact that synthesized sounds are more than clumsy approximations of a symphony orchestra . . . . Some constructed electronic sounds are desirable because they are approximate imitations of acoustic instruments rather than faithful reproductions . . . . (A) virtual cello can produce sounds no normal cello could, tones that are at once granular and legato (47).


To Demers, the real value of the synthesizer then is in its ability to take sounds (familiar or strange) and change them into something new, fresh and creative. Sampling is not antithetical to this notion, for the sample itself can be manipulated into a whole new series of sounds that will never sound exactly like the original but is original in itself.


For Moogfest, modular analog synthesis (and its digital mimicry clones) has become almost a point of worship, so another point needs to be made. When digital machines and samplers took over the market and displaced their modular analog predecessors, artists lost real physical control over the machine. The old switches, patch cords, dials, knobs and sliders were replaced with push buttons. This may seem like a slight point to an audience member, but it is not to some artists. Knobs and sliders give a greater sense of physical control over the production of the sound and, to some, connect the artist in a more satisfying way to the process. Performance then shifts from just striking a key on a keyboard to the simultaneous manipulation of the oscillators (sound generators) and filters that augment the sound. On a digital preset instrument, the artist has less moment to moment, physical control. The analog artist sculpts the sound in real time. A preset sample or sound is selected and then the artist plays the keys with little or no interaction with the internal production of the sound.


Looking at the Moog Factory's current lineup of machines, we see them filling this returning need for modular analog interaction with their machines. The Minimoog Voyager XL is marketed by selling exactly this sort of interaction. The marketing text on their website reads:



Designed in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Minimoog, the Minimoog Voyager XL is a sonic powerhouse that pays homage to important milestones in the Moog synthesizer legacy. It starts with the heart of a Minimoog Model D. Fat oscillators and warm Moog filters give it that unmistakable Moog sound and the rugged construction and intuitive user interface design immediately tells you that you’re playing a high-quality musical instrument. From the current Voyager lineage, the XL inherits a 100% analog signal path with stable oscillators, patch storage, touch surface, pot mapping and extensive MIDI control functionality. To all this, add a ribbon controller and 61 note keyboard and you have a monster analog monosynth built on a 40 year legacy of sonic exploration ("Minimoog Voyager XL | Moog Music Inc.").


Not only are they selling a connection to the history and track record of Robert Moog's work but they are also selling a "heart" (the oscillator) and "warmth" (the filters). It is "rugged." It is 100% analog (no cold, digital parts here). It is valuable for its "touch" surface and "pot mapping" (ability to turn the knobs and feel the sound change). The website continues: "A host of features previously found only on massive modular synthesizers combined with state-of-the-art analog technology make it a sound design and control dream machine." We see very human language but a real sense that this is a machine that you control; it does not control or limit you.


Today's digital synthesizers exist in hardware and software form and can sound indistinguishable from the old analog Moog machines. Just listening to a recording is no longer a means of determining what type of machine the sounds were composed on. So the point of inquiry for our purposes here is not so much the question of digital or analog, or even modular or preset. The real question is one of control--machine or human.


An examination of Moogfest and some performances should expand this line of inquiry and serve as a case study of the rebirth and reconnection of new technologies with old.



Moogfest


At the end of every October in the hippie haven that is Asheville, North Carolina, a festival of electronic music is held over a long weekend dedicated to the work of Robert (Bob) Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer. About 30,000 people check in to overpriced hotels and over the period of two to four days wander between eight venues around downtown, to listen to around 70 concerts in which some component of electronics is involved, attend workshops and lectures, dance, sing along and play.


Moogfest's guest list has always been impressive. Devo, Brian Eno, Keith Emerson, Orbital, Massive Attack, Terry Riley, Moby, The Flaming Lips, Morton Subotnick, Thievery Corporation, Thomas Dolby, Tangerine Dream, Orbital and hundreds of other electronic music artists have performed at the festival since the first one was held in New York City in 2004. For five years, Moogfest was a one-night-only event usually held at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square every year. Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, always a champion and user of Moog synths, was the original guest celebrity that helped popularize the festival, later bringing in Thomas Dolby, Jan Hammer and band members from The Beastie Boys, The Cure, Miles Davis' band and others.


Since 2010, the festival has been managed and promoted by AC Entertainment of Knoxville, TN, the group behind the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival that attracts 150 artists to Manchester, TN, every year. AC Entertainment decided that Asheville would the ideal spot to relocate the music festival. Known primarily as a tourist down for people driving the Blue Ridge Parkway and touring the Smoky Mountains, Asheville has the hotel and restaurant infrastructure to handle a large musical festival, as well as a long history supporting live music events. Asheville is also the current home of Moog Music, Moog having moved to Asheville, NC, in 1978 to live out the rest of his career. He had left his own company, Moog Music, a year earlier to work for a company called Big Briar. In 2002, Moog regained the right to use his own name and changed Big Briar to Moog Music, setting the stage for the transition of Moogfest to the medium-sized Appalachian mountain town.



October 2011


What Moogfest celebrates best is the diversity of electronic music; it is a carnival of musical styles, trends and technologies. No longer is electronic music sequestered to the odd, one-off novelty hit (Hot Butter's 1971 recording of "Popcorn," e.g.) or chained to the flashing lights of dance clubs and discos. "Electronic music" as a signifier points to the way music is made, but not what type/kind/genre of music. During the festival every venue offers a different style, from jazz and funk electronics to the ambient, new age, minimalist and classical varieties--from punk rock to classic rock, from doom-and-gloom Goths to the silliest fun of bubblegum pop.


Underneath this bounty of variety we see humanity's relationship with our tools. Alongside the pre-packaged, endlessly reconstituted and recycled tropes of popular music are the experimental, innovative, creative, never-heard-before sounds. Though certainly a particular artist may tend to draw a particular stratum of the Moogfest audience, there is no exclusionary gating of any particular demographic at any site. The old stand beside the young, the geeks beside the hipsters and the hedonistic alongside the reserved.


Moogfest features all types of electronic music: digital and analog synths, Theremins, as well as the latest and the oldest of electronic music technologies. Replacement technologies don't truly exist here. Cyborgs, robots, hybrids and the marriage of the human and the machine are the new master narrative. Progress continues to manifest in the ongoing and endlessly new creation of rare and unusual sounds in an infinite arms race of inventiveness as well as nostalgia for the old sounds of the Minimoog and the Theremin.


What follows is a brief reading of a few of the performances at the festival. With dozens of artists playing in multiple venues simultaneously, no human way exists for anybody to see and hear all performances live. What I've selected are a series of performances from the fall of 2011 that seem to tell us something significant about the status of the cross-fertilization of art and technology in the most contemporary sense.


As I will attempt to explain, the weekend's performances both spell out a history of electronic music and address the current state of the art. Emergent artists may approach electronic music nostalgically out of the love of old analog sounds and long established artists using the most progressive, cutting edge digital technologies. Performances range from the cool and aloof to the warm and quirkily human.



The Emerging Generation - Holy Fuck, Amon Tobin and others


One of the often repeated complaints about electronic music even today is that it does not sound "human" or it sounds "cold." This may come as a leftover of hearing those weird outer space film scores like Forbidden Planet, creepy horror film scores like The Shining, 2001 or the robotic oppression of Giorgio Moroder's pounding disco tracks with Donna Summer or his film scores like Midnight Express. But for a younger generation of artists who do not have those associations, electronic music is no more or less human or warm/cold.


Take, for example, Moogfest 2011 performers, Holy Fuck. This three piece Toronto band's clean, well-crafted recordings are a bit misleading compared to their stage performances. Part punk, part improv jazz, these three men banged on keyboards (mini and standard), blasted toy laser pistols into mics, tweaked laptop keyboards and screamed and barked into distorted vocal processors in an explosion of fury and sexual energy not unlike Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten at the peak of the Sex Pistol's days. Keyboards were smashed into each other for visual and audio effect. Loops and programming set the standard Holy Fuck palate from which the musicians pulled and manipulated in a cacophony of theme and variation. Keyboards were smashed into each other for visual and audio effects.


Holy Fuck's performance art musicianship can be read as both progress and nostalgia. The pairing of punk sensibilities with improvised electronics is certainly new but their performance is also predicated on a strong sense of nostalgia for old school electronic sounds and the simple-but-raw power chords of punk rock.


As far as Holy Fuck lives on the aggressive side, Amon Tobin lives on the reserved. One of the best attended events of the festival was Tobin's Isam, a massive multimedia performance event in the Asheville Convention Center. Tobin is a Brazilian musician/DJ, producer and composer in the vein of French duo Daft Punk. Like Daft Punk, Tobin has realized that in order to be economically viable as an artist in a market where online file sharing has taken huge profits out of producing and selling recordings, live performance tours are a necessity for income. But watching one man twist knobs on a stage in front of thousands of (mostly very young) people is not that visually interesting.


If anything, the stage show of Isam all but erases Tobin as a performer. Where the young men of Holy Fuck are the focus of their show, the audience only rarely glimpsed Tobin on stage. One might wonder if he's there at all. In the middle of the stage of the Convention Center was a series of large white cubes stacked in a pattern that evokes M.C. Escher. Using new video mapping technologies, these white cubes pulsed to life as the music began. Projected upon in a stunning number of ways, each cube alternately functioned sometimes as a solo screen for discrete images and sometimes as one giant, cohesive unit in service to showing a larger image. Geometric patterns swirl. Light walls pulsed. Star fields spun at near-nauseating speeds. And once in a while, the center box went translucent and inside the audience saw Tobin standing in front of rows of electronics, hitting buttons and ostensibly playing the music, though there is no way to be truly certain.


In between the punk fury of Holy Fuck and the ethereal, rave cool of Amon Tobin exists a whole range of new and young electronic music artists. Many of these artists appear at Moogfest to prove their electronic music credentials or to simply cash in on their popularity. The synth-Goth priestess, Austra, from Canada, the screeches of the synth-bass-heavy band, Crystal Castles, hip hop experimentalist, AraabMuzik, the funk cool of Toro y Moi, the bombastic electronics of France's M83, Brooklyn hipster, St. Vincent, the underground weirdness of Oneohtrix Point Never and the slowly forming, trancelike loops of Fields and other emerging artists may prove their legitimacy by attaching themselves to the branded credentials of Moog (whether there is a Moog machine on stage or not). Festival regulars and established artists like Moby, who has shed the theatrics that Tobin now embraces for a more traditional stage set, help headline and draw in a much wider audience for the festival as a whole, functioning as an economic anchor and keeping Moogfest profitable.



Geezer-rock Part One - Suicide


One of the true prizes of Moogfest in 2011 was the live performance by the two-man band, Suicide, who played their legendary first album in its entirety. Suicide emerged from New York's 1970s punk scene at CBGB's nightclub alongside Blondie, The Ramones and The Talking Heads. Unlike most early American punk bands, Suicide is an all-electronic band. Now both in their 70s, vocalist Alan Vega still barks out punk anarchy (often tossing his mic into a speaker for ear-splitting feedback effects) while Martin Rev beats on his keyboards and drum machines with fists and elbows. Clearly Holy Fuck owes a debt of gratitude to the work of Suicide.


Rev played a single digital keyboard that easily mimics the original analog sounds of late 1970s and early 1980s analog machines with a sequencer/drum machine on top. What is most interest here is just that. Though the sound seems original with a nostalgic touch, the setup still seems very simple, compact and progressive. The songs of their 1977 album sound like they were invented yesterday.


The floor of The Orange Peel, Asheville's most prominent alternative performance venue, was full of the young and the old, male and female. What seemed to draw the crowd is the rawness of the performance. It somehow felt dirty, rough, mean and funny, all at the same time. Massive saw waveforms from the synth along with the pulse of the drum machines shook and thumped the building and it became tough not to get wrapped up in the bacchanalia of the event. The room became a punk pit.


Vega's lyrics seem too fresh to have been written in 1977:




Frankie teardrop
Twenty year old Frankie
He's married he's got a kid
And he's working in a factory

He's working from seven to five
He's just trying to survive
well let's hear it for Frankie
Frankie Frankie

Well Frankie can't make it
Coz things are just too hard
Frankie can't make enough money
Frankie can't buy enough food

And Frankie's getting evicted
Oh let's hear it for Frankie
Oh Frankie Frankie
Oh Frankie Frankie

Frankie is so desperate
He's gonna kill his wife and kids
Frankie's gonna kill his kid
Frankie picked up a gun

Pointed at the six month old in the crib
Oh Frankie
(scream)
Frankie looked at his wife

Shot her
(screams)
"Oh what have I done?"
Let's hear it for Frankie

Frankie teardrop
Frankie put the gun to his head
(screams)
Frankie's dead

(screams)

Frankie's lying in hell
(screams)

We're all Frankies
We're all lying in hell
(screams)


The song prominently features gun violence, poverty, desperation and could easily be a story in a contemporary news report, a bitter reminder of the fallout of the economic downturn that started in 2008.


Talking in between songs, his punk angst diatribes still flowed from the same source. The theme of the songs and Vega's intermittent diatribes throughout the late night performance: We were promised progress (better lives, a better nation, a better world) but we were handed lies. Though clearly more quickly winded by his age, his anger may have actually grown. His voice rougher, more growl than what you hear on the '77 recordings. For a thirty-five-year-old set of songs performed by one singer and one man on a synthesizer using pre-programmed rhythms, this performance emanates contemporary human loss, regret and frustration.



Geezer-rock Part Two - Tangerine Dream and Roedelius


Where the French musique concrete movement may have influenced disco and Japanese electronic music, much of American electronic music has been heavily influenced by the German electronische musik and kosmische musik. Out of the Berlin school of electronic music came two extremely influential bands: Tangerine Dream and Cluster. Both were represented at Moogfest 2011 and both not only tell a story of the history of electronic music but also of two important branches of the genre.


Tangerine Dream has always found a great deal of success in the United States, from their classic kosmische musik recordings in the 1970s to their top-selling Virgin Records recordings in the '70s and '80s and to their award-winning film soundtracks. The only original member still playing in the band is Edgar Froese, having held onto the group name and brand through a staggering revolving door of about 22 musicians. It's tough to overstate Tangerine Dream's significance to electronic music. Not only were they influential to a whole generation of synthpop, ambient, techno and new age artists, their sound itself is legendary and their contributions to technology in the field cannot be forgotten. Mark Prendergast in The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance--The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age outlines their importance in this way:



In the rock era they were the ultimate synthesizer group, who produced an other-worldly music which drew vast crowds to cathedrals and amphitheaters . . . . they believed in a total electronic music and harnessed embryonic analogue synthesizers to create vast instrumental sound tapestries . . . . Tangerine Dream stood almost alone in placing all their faith in electronica. As time passed they became the virtuosos of the sequenced rhythm, their own research leading directly to sampling technology and sequencing software (286).


Originally comprised of all men, Tangerine Dream's members now include women as well as members of non-European descent. What may be most interesting part of the Moogfest set is that out of the seventeen pieces played by the band, only three (one set song and the two encores) pieces are older than a five years old; Tangerine Dream continues to produce new and original music at a prolific rate.6


Their continued inventiveness is significant when the audience is taken into consideration. Unsurprisingly, the average audience member was easily over forty years old and dominantly white male. Though it may be nostalgia that brings most of the men to the Tom Wolfe Theatre for the performance, they aren't getting a heavy dose of nostalgia. The stage was cluttered with the latest technology and instrumentation. The songs were new if not being performed for the first time. Unlike the common nostalgia-themed reunion tours, where artists tend to perform their greatest hits collection to a sedate but highly expectant audience, this audience is here to see and hear this ever-new Tangerine Dream. The room had the palpable sense that the value of the bands work is not in the past but always in the now, progressive, ever-improving, growing, changing and evolving. Not only was the performance not primarily about some nostalgic sense of lost youth, there was another layer to the performance, a layer of reverence to the festival and the town of Asheville. Froese addressed the audience and spoke about the importance of the Moog synthesizer to his work as an artist. The entire performance was recorded and released in 2012 as the "Knights of Asheville: Tangerine Dream Live at Moogfest - Asheville - North Carolina 2011."


As much as Tangerine Dream functions as a corporate brand with a popular global audience, Moogfest performer Hans-Joachim Roedelius (simply known as Roedelius) occupies the exact opposite position on the dial. He does not perform in stadiums. He is unknown to almost all Americans (except perhaps the obsessive electronic music fans who attend Moogfest). Yet, Roedelius can be considered just as important as Tangerine Dream.


Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Dieter Moebius, Conrad Schnitzler (a founding member of Tangerine Dream) and Conny Plank formed Cluster in Berlin in early 1970s. Though still a functioning group sans Plank and Schnitzler, the members of Cluster rarely perform live in Europe and even less in the U.S. The consummate electronic music historian, Prendergast paints the picture well here:



Hans-Joachim Roedelius is a key ingredient in the genesis of German electronica from the late 1960s until the end of the twentieth century. He forms a vital link between the pioneering electronic work of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Ash Ra Tempel; the music of his own group Cluster and that of Brian Eno; and his influence goes right through the fashionable soothing Ambience of the 1980s and on into the chilly Techno soundscapes of the following decade. Initially a pioneer of German electronic experimentation, he slowly shifted to acoustic piano and electric keyboards, his style of repeating melodic motifs and cascading arpeggios producing some of the most distinctive and beautiful Ambient music ever recorded. It is no exaggeration to proclaim him the finest keyboardist to emerge from German rock (293).


For Moogfest, Roedelius (who performs and records solo under just his last name) appeared live for two performances: one solo performance and one with American composer and musician, Tim Story, who has recorded a series of albums with Roedelius.7 In both performances, Roedelius either sat at a piano keyboard or hovered over electronic controls, often looking more like he's sending a fax or making copies than making music. What comes from his instruments seems diametrically opposed to this Teutonic objectivity. The acoustic piano keys were struck and the audience was given the time to hear each note, each chord, swell and fade away. The electronics hummed in the background, always holding together what could disappear into infinity at any moment. Full of repetition and slowly undulating cycles, the music moved slowly along. In the duets with Tim Story (known primarily for his soundtracks for PBS and albums on the Hearts of Space label), the two shared duties on electronics and piano in a performance they call The Lunz Project. A simple series of projections backed the two men for visual interest while they play their instruments.


What is more significant than the rare appearance of these German musicians is that they exhibit two polarized approaches to musicianship; the two performances are vastly different experiences. Tangerine Dream's sound is meant to fill a stadium--exciting and evocative. It's music for driving or flying or fighting; it's music for doing and going. Roedelius' sound pulls you in. Into the theatre, into yourself, into the void.



The Electronic Carnival


Finding enough spaces for all of the events at Moogfest always seems to be a bit of a challenge. For Moogfest 2011, the promoters made the decision to build a temporary outdoor concert arena out of a large parking lot, calling it The Animoog Playground, while other spaces were in renovation. Though it is a bit of a challenge for the audience on late autumn nights when temperatures are zipping towards freezing, the venue provided some of the wildest performances of the entire weekend.


Always known for their trippy stage shows, The Flaming Lips brought their psychedelic free-love machine to Asheville for this weekend. Asheville, a haven for hardcore hippies since the 1960s, could not be better suited to what the Lips had to offer. Lead by their wickedly smart and good looking, pied-piper front man, Wayne Coyne, the band played their raucous set of the wild songs to psychedelic video images (including the band being birthed out of a cartoon Gaia vagina). As expected, Cohn climbed into a giant, clear bubble ball and rolled himself out and onto the eager hands of his audience. Huge balloons were dropped and were volleyball bounced around the stadium for the entire concert.


In the same venue, Dan Deacon played wacky theatre improv games on Saturday afternoon. Deacon's hyperactive music is the acoustic equivalent of ADHD-- fitful electronics and drum splats are wrapped in pitched chipmunk vocal screams and yelps. While many electronic musicians are concerned with proving they are legitimate musicians who can actually play musical instruments in a live setting, Deacon offers not the slightest pretense. The stage was empty save for a few racks of equipment that are playing the recordings over the speakers in the arena. Deacon wandered around in the middle of the crowd, which is mostly made up of teens and twenty year olds, not singing but speaking to the audience through a microphone. He gave the audience game instructions to form lines, turn and hug a person, walk a particular way, all while instrumental versions of his music pound in the background. The overwhelming theme is: love each other and enjoy each other. He's turned the parking lot into a real playground and the audience into giggling children who gleefully follow the Simon Says game.



It's Not All Music


Because Moogfest has been organized around strong central ideas and a clear sense of mission, this ongoing homage to Bob Moog, the festival sometimes feels more like an electronic music conference. Two entire spaces (the Moogaplex and the Fine Arts Theatre) are devoted only to workshops and presentations. Attendees could attend sales pitch workshop presentations on technology (Moogerfooger hardware, Animoog software, Ableton + Moog controllers) but also panels on sound design, Moog history, Theremin technology and other geekily blissful discussions on "Control Voltage - Modular Connectivity With the Moog Engineers," "Convergence - Software and Hardware Integration in the 21st Century," and the "Handmade Synth and Pedal Salon."


The largest non-performance related draw at the festival was an "Illustrated Talk" from Brian Eno. Eno spoke to a nearly packed house (about 2400 seats) in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and took questions afterwards. During the talk, Eno delved deep into the state of the art, diminishing arts funding in the US and the UK, his work on iPad apps, how much Terry Riley has influenced him and ambient music, atheism, the return of vinyl lps, generative (self-generating) art and dozens of other topics. As he spoke, he drew pictures and wrote down key terms that were then projected onto a screen on stage for the audience to see. More valuable here, Eno called for a continued pairing of analog and digital technologies and spoke of his continued use of a pair of the near perfect analog speakers he still uses in his studio today, components that were built in the 1970s.


Not only did Eno speak and attend several other concerts like Roedelius and St. Vincent, he also brought an art installation. Eno's 77 Million Paintings was housed in the YMI Cultural Center in the downtown Asheville area. The installation is comprised of video projections and sounds that wrap around the inside of a large room in the Cultural Center and audience members are invited to sit in the middle and watch/listen for as long as they wish. The title of the piece comes from Eno's generative sound and image technology that he developed with software engineers. Each sound and video bite separately combine into a completely different work of art every moment, a work of art that has never existed before, only exists for a moment and then disappears never to be repeated.


Outside of all of the performance and presentations venues, the city itself is awash in Moogfest. Since Moogfest happens the last weekend of October, it's Halloween weekend. Most of the attendees wear everything from the most elaborate Halloween costumes to just regular street clothes. A guy dressed as a bush pops up to scare festival attendees walking one of the main routes between venues, followed by endless eruptions of giggles and joy. Food trucks are everywhere to feed the hungry (mostly vegan and vegetarian). Some people ride around on large tricycles that have enormous butterfly or insect wings attached that flap with each rotation of the pedals. All of these bits turn Moogfest into a carnival.



The Old with the New


As soon as we begin to talk about and think about who we are in relation to who we were and who we will become, we have a tendency to allow our narratives to drive the conversation. Often, it's a master narrative such as progress. This seems too true of our discussions, thoughts, philosophies when they turn to technology and technology oriented music.


But when we actually look at the use of technology as in a group of musicians performing at Moogfest, we find that creative artists see all technology as a set of tools to be used in a variety of ways to produce the sounds they want. We see the digital wizardry of a stage show like Isam or we might find a Theremin onstage built from a kit by the artists themselves.


As a site of technological interchange, Moogfest becomes a particular vantage point from which we can study the oscillation of human culture via electronic music. These are the points of interchange we see:



progress / regress
innovation / stagnation
analog / digital
modular / preset
human / machine
youth / age
new technology / old technology
kinetic / still
silly / serious
critical perspective / animal impulse


Operating in between points on these axes, we see that this small, electronic music festival is not easily contained by any strong narrative. In the events of the three day festival in October of 2011, we see evidence of it all.


Moogfest is about progress. Moogfest is about cyborgs, human and machine hybrid: cold, calculated and near perfect in form. Moogfest is also about sweaty humans bashing their tech to produce art. Moogfest is thoughtful and introspective. Moogfest is impulsive. Moogfest is about the past. Moogfest points to the future. Moogfest is an authentic expression of humanity, achingly and violently emotional at times. Moogfest is messy and does not toe the line of one central ideology, narrative, or practice. Its only cohesion is the desire to honor Moog, the man and his creations.


However, when we talk about technology, the progress narrative takes charge and has the real danger of limiting our relationship to tech. What would have happened if we threw out all of our old Moog synths? Instead of thinking in terms of progression, is it better to think and talk in terms of change (this plus that plus that plus that). To be clear, I'm glad I'm typing on a powerful (in today's terms anyway) and new MacBook Pro with Retina display instead of my old Apple IIe from 1983. Some technologies are clearly better for some tasks, particularly related to business and office work. But when it comes to art, this is less true. What is new is merely new and what is old may still have value. Maybe we need to ask ourselves a series of questions:



1. Are we giving up the control and creativity for the easy and convenient?
2. Is new technology true progress or the illusion thereof?
3. Are we confusing incremental gains for real advances?
4. Do we push for progress out of a fear of regress?
5. If we can't pick it up and immediately use it, does that mean it's no good?


I return to my introductory quote from Laurie Anderson and look back at Benjamin's exact words:



There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair, to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm (392).


Are we Benjamin's angel? Is the storm of progress blowing us backwards into the future? Is the manner in which we think about our relationship to our tools limiting or perhaps even harming our ability to make (art, tools and ideas)?


The inherent danger of our desire for progress is the idea that the new will (or must) replace the old in order to give us a satisfactory sense of forward motion. But in this progression, we may often mistake the new for the better when it is actually less than. MP3s are poorer sound quality than compact discs or vinyl lps. Much like the return of the vinyl lp to the market in the past couple of years, artists are returning to analog synthesis. Consumers who want to hold a physical record album and look at the artwork are like the musicians who want to see, hold, and physically shape their analog synths. Not merely out of a sense of nostalgia but also out of a sense of wanting real, human contact and control.


The master narrative of progress not only drives our consumption of technology but also our consumption and production of electronic music. As the acoustic instrument has morphed into the electronic instrument, we have shifted in some sense away from the focus on what can be done with the instrument to what can be done to the tool. If the ability to really interact with that tool is minimized, then does the artist/human become minimized as well?


What electronic music has given popular culture is the seemingly endless ways of manipulating timbre to varying degrees. Modular, analog synths give us the ability to physically interact in a meaningful way with the equipment. In computer language, there is no true random but merely a series of highly complicated algorhythms. By maintaining analog and modular components we maintain the ability of the artist to interact in truly random and unexpected ways with the machinery. The human in the production equation remains indelible.



The Fracture and the Future (a post note)


In December of 2012, the AC Entertainment announced that they were changing the name to the Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Summit. Moog Music did not renew the license for AC Entertainment to use the name Moog and thus the change in title. The Winston Salem Journal, printing an Associated Press item, quotes a spokesperson from AC Entertainment:



We received a letter from them following this year’s festival, so we have no choice really but to re-name it. We have enjoyed booking, marketing and producing our event for our fans and want to continue with them on this creative journey.


It looks like there may be two different music festivals for electronic music next year: one which continues its brand of Moog worship and another one with a new identity to be shaped over the months to come.


According to that same article, "Moog Music CEO Mike Adams said last month he wants Moogfest to remain in Asheville, to grow in size and embrace a broader vision of innovation." Again, the progress narrative surfaces in how even the CEO of Moog Music speaks about his own company's production, despite the fact that a large portion of what they do is very much about saving old technology ("Moogfest May Have Competition from New Event").


But without the Moog name the festival no longer becomes a pilgrimage. On AC Entertainment’s Twitter in February of 2013, in the audience response to proposed headliners, tweeters list Daft Punk, Underworld, The Chemical Brothers, and others. But will these popular acts be as willing to come to a medium electronic music summit in Asheville without the connection to Robert Moog and Moog Music? Of course, only time will tell. But clearly something has shifted.



Notes

  • 1. In 2013, the time of the writing of the article, the iPad and the iPhone from Apple both still hold major shares of the portable computer and cellular phone markets.
  • 2. For the purposes of this article and contextualizing the Moogfest festival, I focus on the Americans here. Of course, electronic music experiments were happening in the French musique concréte and the German elektronische musik movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
  • 3. The 1897 Telharmonium and other earlier electronic music instruments may be considered proto-synthesizers but for the purposes of this article I'm focusing on the popular commercial production of the musical instrument; what we most commonly think of as a synthesizer.
  • 4. By chance, Roedelius' 80th birthday happened on the day of his solo performance. After his set, the packed house of the Diana Wortham Theatre spontaneously erupted into singing "Happy Birthday" to the humble glee of the artist. Later that evening, as I sat with him and Tim Story to listen to Terry and Gyan Riley, we was bizarrely denied the purchase of a beer because he didn't have a U.S. issued form of identification on him. We made sure he got his beer.
  • 5. The synthpop sounds of the 1980s would not have existed without Yamaha's DX series.
  • 6. Tangerine Dream even composed a new piece for this performance entitled "Asheville Sunrise."
  • 7. By chance, Roedelius' 80th birthday happened on the day of his solo performance. After his set, the packed house of the Diana Wortham Theatre spontaneously erupted into singing "Happy Birthday" to the humble glee of the artist. Later that evening, as I sat with him and Tim Story to listen to Terry and Gyan Riley, we was bizarrely denied the purchase of a beer because he didn't have a U.S. issued form of identification on him. We made sure he got his beer.

Works Cited



Anderson, Laurie. "The Dream Before." Strange Angels. Warner Brothers Records, 1989, CD.

Benjamin, Walter, Marcus Paul Bullock and Michael William Jennings. Selected Writings. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1996. Print.

Brunt, Stephen. "Tuning in to Electronics." The Globe and Mail. 12 July 1982. Print.

Demers, Joanna Teresa. Listening Through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

iPadkiller.com. Web. 1 February 2013. <http://www.ipadkiller.com>.

"Minimoog Voyager XL | Moog Music Inc." Minimoog Voyager XL | Moog Music Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.

"Moogfest May Have Competition from New Event." Winston-Salem Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.

Moore, Gordon E. "Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits" Electronics 38.2 ( 1965): 4. Print.

Pinch, T. J. and Frank Trocco. Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002. Print.

Prendergast, Mark J. The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance: The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age. New York: Bloomsbury, 2000. Print.

Scott From Canada. Synthads. Web. 1 February 2013. <http://www.scottfromcanada.com/synthads/Fairlight-bob%20moog%201982.jpg>.

Taylor, Timothy Dean. Strange Sounds: Music, Technology & Culture. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print.


 

Biography

Woodrow Hood is the Director of Film Studies at Wake Forest University. He teaches courses in Film Studies, Communication and Theatre and specializes in on-camera performance and sound. He directs both for theatre and film and has taught screenwriting and playwriting. As an author, critic, and theorist, he has written for national and international journals and publications such as Cinemascope, Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation, The Journal of Business & Intellectual Property Law, PAJ (Performing Arts Journal), Postmodern Culture, The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, American Theatre, Theatre Topics, TheatreForum, and others.

 

© 2013 Woodrow Hood, used by permission


Technoculture Volume 3 (2013)