Top 100 Composers: Charles Dodge

I probably started learning about electronic music no later than 1971 when I was still in high school & I heard bits & pieces of electroacoustic music on The Mothers of Invention's "We're Only In It for the Money". A few months later I would've already definitely known about synthesizers when I got to hear the "Lonesome Electric Turkey" solo on the Mothers's "Filmore East" record. By 1974 I heard Stockhausen's "Gesang der Jünglinge" & "Kontakte" which would've been very important to me.

It was quickly obvious to me that just as Science Fiction was the genre of ficitional literature I could identify with the most as somehow 'being of my time' so were electronic music & Musique Concrete the most exciting musical genres (tools?) 'of my time'. Of course, such music had been around for generations at that point but it was still new & fresh & had a long way to go to be exhausted.

I took a computer course at a local community college around 1973 (see my student flowchart page) but the students probably didn't even have access to a single computer & the days of home computers were still far off - especially for someone as impoverished as myself. Nonetheless, the possibility of adding computers to the mix of the already phenomenal control of making sounds from scratch that electronic music had to offer was exciting.

In 1976, the 1st record I got was called "Computer Music" & was on the great nonesuch label. It featured the work of J.K. Randall, Barry Vercoe, & Charles Dodge. Randall's work was probably the most interesting to me but all of it was good to learn about & hear. Within weeks I got a copy of Dodge's "Earth's Magnetic Field". To quote from the liner notes for that:

"To indicate the average level of magnetic activity for Earth, the Kp index has been established." "The succession of notes in the music corresponds to the natural succession of the Kp indices for the year 1961."

THAT was an exciting idea that I hadn't thought of!: Basing a piece of music around natural data, especially data relevant to the Earth as a celestial body. Cool. That was enough to make me interested in Dodge. The music itself is rather 'dry', but that's ok, the idea's great. Now, of course, Cage had already based music on star maps but the result hadn't been so pointedly scientific as these were.

Dodge's music hasn't exactly astounded me since then but his version of Samuel Beckett's radio play, "Cascando", is wonderful - & I ended up sampling from it for a piece of mine called "The Only Jealousy of Cascando McKenna". I provide a link to a performance of that below. Furthermore, Dodge experimented with speech synthesis, another subject that was very fresh at the time. As with so many people whose work has interested me, I haven't heard as much of Dodge's music as I'd like to but I'll be on the look-out for cheap used copies of recordings. - November 11, 2017 notes from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE


"Folia" - 1965 - 11:45

"Earth's Magnetic Field" - 1970 - 29:18

"Changes" - 1970 - 15:44

"Extensions" - 1973 - 8:05

"Speech Songs" - 1973

"Cascando" - 1977 - 32:38

[witness my piece that uses samples from this here: ]

"Fades, Dissolves, Frizzles" - 1995 - 13:57

"Violin Variations" - 2009 - 8:24






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