And Other Synthesized Holiday Favorites
Book: Electronic and Experimental Music, sixth edition, Routledge 2020.
Podcast: The Holmes Archive of Electronic Music
It is the end of the year 2020. Is this a year to celebrate? We’ve made it this far. Perhaps we should find a way to have resolution and feel the coming of what cannot be avoided: the new year.
Since 2000, I’ve put together a collection of electronic holiday music to share with friends. This year, I’m putting it on the podcast for the first time. Some of this music will be cheesy, some will sound a bit strange. Some may be funny to you, some may be more sentimental and serious. Only the final track, by Jon Hassell, was not intended for the holidays. But it is such a hopeful, forward-looking piece of music that I thought it was only fitting for the new year.
The complete playlist for this episode is below. In this playlist you can see what electronic instrumentation was used for each track.
I invite you to sit back with the synthetic fireplace of your imagination, a glass of wine in your hand, and enjoy these electronic sounds of the season.
1. Jean Jacques Perrey and Sy Mann, “Christmas Bells” from Switched on Santa (1970 Pickwick). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer.
2. Moog Machine, “O Holy Night” from Christmas Becomes Electric (1970 Columbia). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer.
3. The Roots, “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa” from Just Say Noël (1996 Geffen). USA.
4. Douglas Leedy, “The Coventry Carol” from A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You (1970 Capitol). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer and Buchla Synthesizer.
5. Jimmy Smith, “The Christmas Song” from Christmas Cookin’ (1964 Verve). USA. Hammond organ.
6. Don Voegeli, “Chanukah” from Holiday & Seasonal Music (1977 EMI). USA. Produced at the Electrosonic Studio of the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
7. Joseph Byrd, “Christmas in the Morning” from A Christmas Yet to Come (1975 Takoma). USA. ARP 2600 Synthesizer with an Oberheim Expander Module.
8. Douglas Leedy, “Deck the Halls” from A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You (1970 Capitol). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer and Buchla Synthesizer.
9. Douglas Leedy, “Good King Wenceslas” from A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You (1970 Capitol). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer and Buchla Synthesizer.
10.Beck, “The Little Drum Machine Boy” from Just Say Noël (1996 Geffen). USA. Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer.
11.Armen Ra, “O Come All Ye Faithful” from Theremin Christmas (2018 Sungod). USA. Moog Etherwave Pro Theremin.
12.Don Voegeli, “Carol of the Drum” from Holiday & Seasonal Music (1977 EMI). USA. Produced at the Electrosonic Studio of the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
13.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.
14.Jean Jacques Perrey and Sy Mann, “Jingle Bells” from Switched on Santa (1970 Pickwick). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer.
15.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.
16.Douglas Leedy, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” from A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You (1970 Capitol). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer and Buchla Synthesizer.
17.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.
18.Jean Jacques Perrey and Sy Mann, “Tijuana Christmas” from Switched on Santa (1970 Pickwick). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer.
19.Jean Jacques Perrey and Sy Mann, “My Favorite Things” from Switched on Santa (1970 Pickwick). USA. Moog Modular Synthesizer.
20.Paul Tanner, “Holiday on Saturn” from Music for Heavenly Bodies (1958 Omega). USA. Electro-theremin.
21.Rolf Harris, Introductory comments and “O Come All Ye Faithful” from The Stylophone: Traditional Tunes and Christmas Carols (1970 Dübreq ). UK. Stylophone.
22.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.
23.Jon Hassell, “Dreaming” from Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) (2018 Ndeya). Europe. Teenage Engineering OP-1 Portable Synthesizer, Sampler, and Controller, trumpet, keyboards, electronics.
The Archive Mix in which I play two tracks at the same time to see what happens.
For this episode I am featuring two remixes that I did over the course of holiday seasons past.
1. Thom Holmes, Happy Christmas (War is Over) Sliding Moment mix (excerpt) (2001).
2. Thom Holmes. Kung fu holiday movie times (excerpt) (2000).