An Eggnogstic Synthesized Holiday Special
My Podcast: The Holmes Archive of Electronic Music
The 2021 holiday season is upon us, so we are bringing you a podcast packed with music for the season. In addition to the music, I’ve tried to dress everything up with some sounds of the season. You know, farmyard animals, bowling balls, singing whales, holiday television specials, a talking parrot and, of course, John and Yoko. All of the music has some electronic origin. Among these are digital sleigh bells, the Moog Modular synthesizer, and the unique Hammond organ stylings of Jimmy Smith. As the title of this episode suggests, I’ve tried to stay away from religious messages while keeping the holidays in our thoughts. Near the end of the podcast we will hear Richie Havens and his melancholic reflection on life called The End of the Season, so befitting of this time of year. We will close with two haunting but beautiful tracks by Jon Hassell to help ring-in the new year with some hope as we all go forward to navigate this crazy world.
Details about these works can be found on the podcast website and the playlist included below.
If you would like to learn more about the history of electronic music, please read my book, Electronic and Experimental Music, published by Routledge in print or as an e-Book.
Here is an approximate order for the tracks, which are sometimes mixed with other sounds or played at the same time.
1. Joseph Byrd, “Carol of the Bells” from A Christmas Yet to Come (1975 Takoma). USA. ARP 2600 Synthesizer with an Oberheim Expander Module.
2. Bob Wehrman, John Bezjian and Dusty Wakeman, “Ring Christmas Bells” from Christmas Becomes Electric (1984 Tropical Records). Not be confused with an album by the same name by The Moog Machine in 1969. Unnamed synthesizer programmed and performed by Bob Wehrman and John Bezjian. From Marina Del Rey in California.
3. Joseph Byrd, “Carillon” from A Christmas Yet to Come (1975 Takoma). USA. ARP 2600 Synthesizer with an Oberheim Expander Module.
4. Tod Dockstader, “Holiday Meltdown” from Recorded Music For Film, Radio & Television: Electronic Vol.1 (1979 Boosey & Hawkes). Yes! A manic collage of electronic sounds from New Yorker Dockstader who did this album of broadcast library music for a UK firm.
5. Rudolf Escher, “The Long Christmas Dinner”(1960) from Anthology Of Dutch Electronic Tape Music: Volume 1 (1955-1966) (1978 Composer’s Voice). Netherlands. Electronic tape composition.
6. Douglas Leedy, “In Dulci Jubilo” from A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You (1970 Capitol). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer and Buchla Synthesizer.
7. Beck, “The Little Drum Machine Boy” from Just Say Noël (1996 Geffen). USA. Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer.
8. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Paul Freeman, and The Chicago Synthesizer-Rhythm Ensemble, John Tatgenhorst, “The Little Drummer Boy” from Turned On Christmas (1985 Columbia). Just a little of this mixed-in with Beck.
9. Philippe Renaux, “Noël Blanc” (“White Christmas”) from We Wish You A Cosmic Christmas (1977 Sinus). Belgium. Minimoog, Arp Axe, Arp Soloist, EMS Synthesizer, Stringman Crumar, Fender Rhodes, Electronic Drums.
10. Paul Tanner, “Holiday on Saturn” from Music for Heavenly Bodies (1958 Omega). USA. Electro-theremin.
11. Taeko Onuki, Inori (Prayer) from We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1984 Yen). A compilation of specially recorded Christmas-themed songs from various artists on the Yen Records label. Japanese synth-pop with vocals by Onuki. Maybe Ryuichi Sakamoto on keyboards.
12. Mitch Miller & the Gang, “Give Peace a Chance—Thom’s Festive Remix” from Peace Sing-Along (1970 Atlantic). USA. This is a tune that I remixed with other recordings.
13. Don Voegeli, “Jingle Bells” long, short, and tag from Holiday & Seasonal Music (1977 EMI). USA. Produced at the Electrosonic Studio of the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
14. Joseph Byrd, “Jingle Bells” from A Christmas Yet to Come (1975 Takoma). USA. ARP 2600 Synthesizer with an Oberheim Expander Module.
15. Jimmy Smith, “The Christmas Song” from Christmas Cookin’ (1964 Verve). USA. Hammond organ.
16. Jean Jacques Perrey and Sy Mann, “Tijuana Christmas” from Switched on Santa (1970 Pickwick). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer.
1. Thom Holmes, Happy Christmas (War is Over) Lennon and Ono Sliding Moment remix (2001).
17. Richie Havens, “End of the Season” from Alarm Clock (1970 Stormy Forest). A melancholic reflection on life from Mr. Havens, totally synthesized on the Moog Modular by Bob Margoleff.
18. Jon Hassell, “Clairvoyance” from Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street (Pentimento Volume One) (2009 ECM). Composer, keyboards, Jon Hassell; producer, bass, Peter Freeman; Live Sampling, Jan Bang; Violin, Kheir-Eddine M'Kachiche. Live recordings from Courtrais, Belgium, and London.
19. Jon Hassell, “Courtrais” from Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street (Pentimento Volume One) (2009 ECM). Composer, trumpet, keyboards, Jon Hassell; producer, bass, Peter Freeman; sampler, Dino J.A. Deane, Jan Bang; percussion, Steve Shehan; Live recordings from Courtrais, Belgium, and London.
Opening and closing sequences voiced by Anne Benkovitz.
Additional opening, closing, and other incidental music by Thom Holmes.