Home Tinytown Teasers Tiny Town Teaser No. 79, Vol. 6: Switched-On Teaser!

Tiny Town Teaser No. 79, Vol. 6: Switched-On Teaser!

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1. Local star?
4. "A rose __ rose ..."
5. Beam from 1 Across
1. ___ Galahad
2. ___ Today
3. Negative vote

Degree of Difficulty: As hard as stepping outside on one of the first truly beautiful Spring Sundays of the Year in Town.

VIDEO: David Borden, one of the founders of Mother Mallard, the world's first-ever electronic synthesizer ensemble. The sample above was recording on April 11, 2015, at the Historical Museum of Tompkins County where Borden, former director of Cornell University's Electronic Music Lab (now Digital Music Program).
There, he created an entirely new avenue of study available to all university undergraduates, no matter what their musical knowledge. Borden, who says he was "not allowed to teach composition" to his students, in fact did so quite regularly, just not officially. His main concern in teaching electronic music was that students learn how to use the software; half the course grade was based on a final exam where students performed "live" before their peers, whatever creation they had concocted that demonstrated understanding key concepts of the electronic music synthesizer.

Borden was no slouch when it came to making new music; he came to Ithaca on a federal program designed to teach music appreciation for students in the Ithaca City School District.

It was in Ithaca where Borden met Robert Moog, inventor of the synthesizer, Borden's entire concept and approach to composition and performance was forever altered.


The Beatles, Mick Jagger and jazz bandleader-composer Sun Ra were among the first customers for Moog's then-$11,000 instrument. In 1969, the album "Switched on Bach," performed by Walter (later Wendy) Carlos on a Moog synthesizer, became a Grammy winner and one of the best-selling classical albums in history. Today the once-cumbersome synthesizer fits on a microchip. Car alarms, computer chimes and the sound signatures of products like Maxwell House coffee are all sonic concatenations of Moog's original works. "His invention is ubiquitous and has had as much if not more impact than the invention of the piano," said David Borden, former director of the Cornell Digital Music Program. "He's probably one of the most important musical instrument makers in history.

Moog took Borden on as protege and guinea pig at his Trumansburg, NY, storefront, where Moog's instrument, a cumbersome bank of oscillators and electronic music-making gadgetry, with dozens of patches and wires, input and outputs jacks and amplifiers ... Moog's instrument was then in its research and design phase of creating the instrument that would forever change our world, from door bell and cell phone chimes, to Wend Carlos Williams's "Switch-On Bach" to the truly innovative and outstanding synthesizer group,

Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co.

On April 11, 2015, Borden,  delivered a PowerPoint presentation and discussed the serendipitous circumstances which led to the foundation of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co.
Borden followed his  talk with a walloping performance of EASTER (1970), a piece he composed at the Moog Electronic Studio in Trumansburg, NY (sampled above at the country museum). Borden became lifelong friends with Moog, who died in 2005, at age 71.


Borden’s music can be heard on the Cuneiform, FRKWYS, New World, Spectrum Spools and Fabric labels. In addition to his electronic and electroacoustic works, he has composed numerous work for two pianos. Kyle Gann, critic for Chamber Music America, describes Borden’s work as “ . . . music with a kind of joyful, bopping ecstasy.”
Borden spoke about the post-Moog versions of the band and how they evolved into the laptop ensemble they are today.
Borden is  Cornell University's director emeritus and founder of the the school's Digital Music Program. He holds advanced degrees in music from the Eastman School of Music and Harvard University.
– tiny town staff

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Last Updated on Monday, 13 April 2015 19:21  

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