Thursday, October 29, 2015

Literature Review on Thom Holmes’ Electronic and Experimental Music

Electronic and Experimental Music Technology, Music, and Culture” by Thom Holmes introduced electronic music from 1861 to 2012. It provides in depth knowledge of the history of electronic music and how the pioneer of early electronic music influence current music practitioners. The experimentation of different musicians and composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Edgard Varèse, Luigi Russolo, Leon Theremin, Clara Rockmore, Oskar Sala no longer explore clean, pure and sweet sounds, some explore dissonant, harsh sounds. Holmes also included different electronic instruments over the years such as the Theremin, synthesizers, the Telegraphone, AEG Magnetophone, tape recorder and turntables. An electronic music genre called the “Musique Concrète” was invented through experimentation. It uses instruments like turn tables, reverberation and pre-recorded sounds.

Before early electronic music was introduced, classical musicians read musical scores, early electronic music composers collaborated with artists and came out with “Graphical Notations” for them to relate to their piece.  The invention of computer resulted electronic musicians to approach their music using digital instead of analog. Holmes also wrote about the history and foundations of computer music, computer composition and scoring, digital signal processing, synthesizers and different modulators. Classical and Jazz connection to electronic music came to the surface as more musicians start to integrate technologies into their music.

The book provides resourceful information for Acousmatic music research; the tonality, technologies, instruments availability and other composers’ references will be useful for the portfolio. However, this textbook only introduces experimental electronic music but not interactive music and visuals. Research on other books such as “Audio Culture Readings in Modern Music” by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner; “Writing Interactive Music for Video Games” by Michael Sweet will provide more information for the research paper.


Holmes, T. (1985). Electronic and experimental music (4th ed.). New York: Scribner's.