There are many different pillars of early electronic music. There’s Leon Theremin and his woo-ing instrument that made “Good Vibrations” possible, the BBC and their revolutionary Radiophonic Workshop, Tangerine Dream, the Yellow Magic Orchestra; the list goes on and on, but what about Harlem. Yeah, that’s right, Harlem. When you think of Harlem you may think of the Harlem Renaissance or maybe even Dipset, but Harlem should also be recognized for its long-standing history of electronic music innovation too. Via IASPM-US:
Then, in 1959, with the delivery of a looming technological contraption to an empty room on the third floor, the site at 632 West 125th Street became home to the monumental music-research nexus known as the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. That contraption was the RCA Mark II Electronic Music Synthesizer, which came in boxes on trucks from New Jersey. It weighed two tons, enlisted things like variable-frequency oscillators and “white noise” thyratron generators, and stood, when assembled, about seven feet tall. Width-wise, it stretched across the whole of a large room. Its value at the time was around $250,000 (or, roughly, $2 million today).