ok do you see this Legendary Epic woman right here? this is wendy fucking carlos and i’m going to describe to you why wendy carlos is 30 thousand times better than you
- she is a 74 year old trans fucking woman. she remembers having dysphoria at age five and started hrt in 1968. you think transitioning is difficult now? try doing it in 1968. the thought scares the shit out of me.
- her first album, switched on bach, is a literal hour of her playing bach’s music on synthesizers. that’s classical edm. edm wouldn’t exist if she hadn’t brought synthesizers to prominence. the catch? synthesizers in 1968 were monophonic. that means you can only play one note at a time. wendy carlos sat there and played each instrument’s piece of bachs music at least 6 times per symphony, painstakingly overdubbing and rerecording each line, one at a time.
- oh yeah, switched on bach was the first classical album to sell more than 500k copies and she won 3 grammies and stayed on the billboard #1 pop charts for 17 weeks.
- you know tron? that really awesome movie whose sequel daft punk made the ost for? wendy is the original daft punk. tron’s soundtrack was all her; not only that, but so was a clockwork orange and the shining.
- in 1998 this piece of shit momus (aka nick currie on wired) made a song mocking wendy’s sexual orientation. $50k of currie’ money later, she forced him to remove that song from his entire collection, have the master destroyed, and his music career fucking died after that.
figured i’d post this since daft punk keep getting a lot of love. i love daft punk, but they owe their lives to this fucking badass.
No, I feel like this still isn’t conveying just how important Wendy Carlos is, so let me break this down a little more…
See, I work in just intonation, an estranged set of tunings that’s more harmonic, but more difficult to implement in physical instruments. Mainly, if one were to use an instrument with fixed keys, modulation isn’t as free as with even temperament because all the tones would have to change to follow the base note. You know those big Moog modular systems? Wendy fucking connected two keyboards and whatever other doohickeys to make them do that automatically, at the press of a key! Physical restraints on alternative tunings are still very much an issue for people working in alternate tunings even today and she was able to make the instruments of the time do just what she wanted!
By the way, while we’re talking about Moog, how about we mention the fact that the Moog section of the book Vintage Synthesizers focuses heavily on Wendy because she probably made Moog what it was more than any other musician. When Bob Moog was trying to get his synthesizers in studios and schools (places that could afford a fancy and entirely stationary piece of musical equipment), Wendy was travelling to shows and such, showcasing Bach’s work on the synths.
Oh, or maybe we could even begin to touch on any of her many interests on her website, like photography, artwork, solar eclipses, map making, or experiments in color? Wendy’s website is a relic of the ’90s (behold the aesthetic) and holds the same depth of content that websites held back in those web 1.0 days, except it’s all from one amazing, brilliant lady that everyone should immediately recognize as one of the greatest pioneers in electronic music and modern alternative tunings.
Seriously, we’re talking about one of my biggest influences here. As a trans woman with a myriad of interests, including electronic music, there are few people I look up to as much as I do Wendy Carlos.
<3 <3 <3