Buchla, Fairlight CMI, and homemade electronic instruments featured on classic children’s television.
Suzanne Cianni, Herbie Hancock, Bruce Haack: We don’t know the circumstances surrounding how these synthesists came to appear on children’s network television shows such as Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, but we’re so happy they did.
If the video proof didn’t exist, it’d be pretty difficult to fathom the pairing of these experimental figures with Big Bird or Oscar the Grouch, but in a way children’s TV turned out to be the perfect outlet to introduce something as abstract and limitless as electronically-composed music. At the time it was one of the few mainstream outlets that gave airtime to these musical educators, who used it to convey the amazing world of synthesized sound to a larger audience.
Buchla master Suzanne Ciani’s visit on 3-2-1 Contact is the classic example and the most famous of the bunch: an impressively guided entry point into understanding sound synthesis.
We figured we’d have to source all these videos ourselves until we happened upon this really great collection. Compiled by Create Digital Music a few years ago, it also documents Mr. Rogers demonstrating the presets on an early ARP synthesizer and Ratso and the Residents on Chic-A-Go-Go. Below, enjoy CDM’s “Amazing classic synth and experimental moments on children’s TV”.
Finally, although CDM’s compilation really nailed it, it’s worth mentioning that John Cage appeared on the game show “I’ve Got a Secret” in 1960 to demonstrate that music could be made from anything. Enjoy.