How Wendy Carlos Changed Music

The secret ingredient in Switched on Bach is that it is an outrageously good musical performance.

Lots of other synth albums are technology demos, collections of cool sounds. Switched On Bach stands out because Carlos adapted Bach for the medium of the Moog synth, clearly understanding the compositions’ underlying gestures, and ensured that those gestures all come through. In some cases, they come through more clearly than on the original instrumentation, especially bass lines where the synth speaks more clearly than acoustic instruments can.

.. The secret ingredient in SoB is the fact that much of it was recorded at half speed and played back at double speed. This doubles the tempo and also hugely alters the timbres, making the sound much brighter, punchier, and more sparkly than the usual rather ponderous Moog sound.

.. The records were a team effort. The arrangements were shaped by producer Rachel Elkind, and Baroque specialist Benjamin Folkman.

I’m just as impressed by the fact that Carlos built her own mixer (difficult, but not entirely exceptional) and multitrack recorder (extremely difficult, and definitely exceptional) for the recordings.