Joel Chadabe
Electric Sound



The first book to deal comprehensively with the history of electronic music, Joel Chadabe's 'Electric Sound: The Past and Promise of Electronic Music' is a lively, witty, and engaging narrative that tells in vivid terms how the electronic musical instrument developed from its beginnings in Thaddeus Cahill's Telharmonium at the turn of the century and in the theremin in the 1920s to the MIDI synthesizers of the 1990s.

Chadabe based his writing on more than 150 interviews with the musicians, engineers and entrepreneurs that developed the technology and created new approaches to music, including Robert Moog, the inventor of the first commercially successful synthesizer; Max Mathews, the inventor of digital audio; Ikutaro Kakehashi, President of Roland Corporation, who first proposed the MIDI standard; and pioneering composers such as Pierre Henry, Pauline Oliveros, Morton Subotnick, David Tudor, and many more. The book contains information never before published.

If you're at all interested in electronic music, this book is a must. It's an excellent introduction to the field and, at the same time, fascinating for professionals. It's also very enjoyable. As Kyle Gann wrote, "It's so readable, so entertainingly written, so well-researched, it reads almost like a mystery novel at times ... "

Comments and review excerpts:

Max Mathews, pioneer: "By far the finest history and overview of the last 50 years of electronic music that I have read."

Robert Moog, inventor: "... a wonderful and compelling history of electronic music ... "

Computer Music Journal: "This is a great book, for a number of reasons. First of all, it is written for the general public, so it avoids academic jargon and attitudes ... And because much of the book is based on interviews with leaders in the field, it contains a wealth of information that has not previously been available anywhere else. Second, one of the most likable aspects of the book is Mr. Chadabe's open-minded, inclusive world view ... Most importantly, the book is fun ..."

Leonardo Music Journal: " ... an invaluable and unique contribution to the field of electronic music in general ... not to be missed."

The Wire, London: "The story this book tells has never been told at such length, nor so well as here ... "

Keyboard Magazine: "It would be hard to imagine a more incisive, insightful, or purely readable history of electrical music-making ... Plug into Electric Sound."

Journal SEAMUS: "This is a great book."


Joel Chadabe, composer, author, is an internationally recognized pioneer in the development of interactive music systems. He has performed at the Venice Biennale, Wellington Festival (New Zealand), New Music America, Inventionen (Berlin), IRCAM (Paris), Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), Electronic Music Festival (Stockholm), and other venues and festivals worldwide. He is the author of Electric Sound, a comprehensive history of electronic music. HIs articles have been published in leading journals. His music has been recorded on EMF Media and other labels. He has received fellowships and grants from NEA, New York State Council on the Arts, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Fulbright Commission, and other organizations, and he is the recipient of the SEAMUS 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Chadabe is currently Professor Emeritus at State University of New York; adjunct faculty in the music technology program at New York University; founder of Ear to the Earth and New Music World; and president of Intelligent Arts.