Anyone heard of Raymond Scott?

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While wandering around Amazon.com, I came across Raymond Scott and his 'Soothing Sounds for Baby' albums. He was described as a precursor to Eno, Glass and The Aphex Twin -- anyone heard of old Raymond? Is he any good?

Johnathan, Tuesday, 29 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

He's great! He was more well known at the start of the nineties and earlier for his various crazed jazz ensemble pieces from the thirties that became the foundation for a lot of Warner Bros. animation music -- one listen and you'll hear why! There's a wonderful collection out there that samples some of that, though I forget the name. The _Soothing Sounds_ stuff you mention is from later years, in the fifties and sixties, when he was aiming at, indeed, more meditative approaches -- I've only heard snippets, but I can see the comparisons, though that might be a bit overdetermined...

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 29 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Big important double CD of his 50s/60s electronic recordings for adverts, Expo etc — called "Manhattan Research Inc." — put out last year. Gimme a day or so and I'll "review" it for you (bit late tonite, esp. when I'm already on a promise re Norman F & Cornelius C over on another thread..)

mark s, Tuesday, 29 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

By some unfathomable coincidence, I did have a Raymond Scott cd out today - Soothing Sounds for Babies Volume 3. A compendium of electronic sounds for babies aged 12-18 months; I have to say that my son didn't think a great deal of it at the time when it was played to him but I enjoyed it's doodly blips and blurps very much. The previous 2 volumes I haven't heard but would assme they were for 0-6 and 6-12 month old ears. Sweet.

Missus Mo, Tuesday, 29 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The compilation of Scott's early work was on Columbia, called Restless Nights and Turkish Twilights, compiled by Hal Willner. It's a great overview of his earlier material, much of which a lot of people already know by heart, even though they don't know it. (I swear, I thought that "In an 18th Century Drawing Room" was a classical piece of music until I heard Restless Nights...) Most of this early material was with a tradition jazz ensemble configuration, but Scott demanded that his Quintette play his compositions exactly as they appeared on the sheet music: no room to swing. At all. And this material was incredibly dense and complicated. There's a very telling quote from Art Blakey in the liner notes (from a 1971 issue of Downbeat magazine, on why he gave up piano and switched to drums):
This big show came in from New York--Tondelayo and Lopez. They had special music written by Raymond Scott. It was called 'Powerhouse'. Really Impressive suff--bamp, bomp, be-doodle-lee-doo-doo-de-lee. All written out. Looked like fly shit on those sheets. It scared the hell out of me.
In his own ensemble, Scott was a perfectionist. It made perfect sense, then, when he got rid of the performers and started building his own musical machines to do the work (insert ominous mad scientist music here, and probably music played on Scott's machines). Through the 60's he tinkered around with a number of devices, often working with this guy called Moog. If Scott felt that he needed a special type of sound, he built a new electronic instrument. Much of these machines were able to generate great burbling and bleeping noises which, though they sound completely quaint today, were extremely cutting edge at the time, and very otherworldly. Much of Scott's focus through the 60s was adding electronic scoring to commercials for products like Sprite, Vim, Twinkies and Vicks Formula 44. Manhattan Research Inc. (previously referenced upthread) compiles most of this electronic commercially-oriented material, and throws in a few electronic reworks of tracks from the Quintette days. It's not really an album, more a historical document, but it's really compelling listening.

The Soothing Sounds for Babies were not particularly soothing, really, with staccato bleeps, clatters and the like, but they were certainly engaging. As a tool designed to stimulate the senses of infants, they certainly have what it takes. On the other hand, some of the tracks go on wayyyy too long and may not have enough variety to be really interesting listening except for the true Scott archiv-o- phile. Moments of brilliance, however.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 29 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I never knew for sure which music was specifically by him but the music in those WB cartoons is always really great.

duane zarakov, Tuesday, 29 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Carl Stalling's better.

tarden, Wednesday, 30 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I tried out the first volume of 'Soothing Sounds' on my sister's four month-old twin babies and it actually worked! It didn't make 'em cry, scream, shit themselves or throw up, there was the odd distracted smile, a few gurgles and the occasional tapping of feet and hands. And then they went to sleep!

Andrew L, Wednesday, 30 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Yr experiment is of course worthless w/o a CONTROL GROUP (maybe they wd have gone to sleep anyway).

And uninteresting w/o COMPARATIVE STUDIES. I suggest next time you play Uriah Heep.

mark s, Wednesday, 30 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Just been reading some stuff on the "Manhattan Research Inc." double CD... sounds amazing. As a Wire reader on and off for years, it's strange I've never heard of him before. I love the idea of someone being so far ahead of his time he had to build his own instruments. Wish my Ma had played me his music when I was a baby.

Johnathan, Wednesday, 30 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

two years pass...

All U need to know on this topic: http://RaymondScott.com

, Saturday, 12 July 2003 14:06 (sixteen years ago) link

just to give credit where it's due: "in an 18th century drawing room" IS a classical piece of music - it's based on brahms sonata #3. regardless, thumbs up to raymond, iconoclastic and forward thinking. GREBT song titles too!!

Dr. Annabel Lies (Michael Kelly), Saturday, 12 July 2003 18:40 (sixteen years ago) link

the "manhattan research" double cd & book is ace for the 25 mins or so of truly astonishing music on there - the rest is just shitty bleeps behing someone speaking sales copy for the purposes of advertisement or so raymond can try selling his bleeps/ machines to ad agencies and isn't quite so successful. the good stuff - well none of todays electro - retro futurists can touch it. it's the real deal.

bob snoom, Saturday, 12 July 2003 18:50 (sixteen years ago) link

I recently got Volume 1 of the "Soothing Sounds For Babies" series - not expecting all that much but it really is astonishing, it is SO far ahead of its time. I'm not saying the music is especially great but unlike most early electronic music which is talked of as being a precursor of modern electronic music this actually SOUNDS like "modern" electronic music - and yes it is a true precursor of Glass/ Riley/ systems music, Kraftwerk/ Cluster (in fact, Cluster's entire musical oeuvre from "Zuckerzeit" onwards), Aphex Twin, you name it. Of course it never actually "influenced" anyone because nobody ever heard it.

Dadaismus (Dada), Monday, 14 July 2003 09:41 (sixteen years ago) link

it's based on brahms sonata #3

Actually it's Mozart's "sonata facile" piano sonata..

Captain Sleep (Captain Sleep), Monday, 14 July 2003 19:56 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Euros Childs raves about him in Guardian today. I must hear this!

N. (nickdastoor), Friday, 12 September 2003 12:12 (sixteen years ago) link

It's good stuff, Mr. N.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 12 September 2003 15:01 (sixteen years ago) link

anyone heard:
The Metropole Orchestra & The Beau Hunks Saxtette - 'The Chesterfield Arrangements'?
which has a Scott connection

sounds like it might be just my kind of thing

zebedee (zebedee), Friday, 12 September 2003 17:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Dadaismus wrote:
>Of course it never actually "influenced" anyone because nobody ever heard it.

What?? The SOOTHING SOUNDS albums were released on EPIC RECORDS (40 years ago)! Who knows how many ears they reached?

-PongHit

PongHit, Friday, 12 September 2003 17:54 (sixteen years ago) link

Zebedee: THE CHESTERFIELD CD is great! ALL Raymond Scott compositions... Also check out the KODACHROME CD -- fantastic!

Look-E-Here

Look-e-Here, Friday, 12 September 2003 18:01 (sixteen years ago) link

Besides the amazing music on the Manhattan Research collection, the gigantic book alone is worth the price of admission -- must see page here -- http://RaymondScott.com/mripr.html

"I was buying some modern electronica CDs when a clerk suggested I grab MANHATTAN RESEARCH INC. I knew little of Raymond Scott, but listening brought childhood flashbacks. As much as the Beatles, Brubeck, or Hendrix, TV and radio formed my musical mind. Raymond Scott wows me!"
-Pat Mastelotto, drummer, KING CRIMSON

"Whaaaaat?? This is from the fifties and sixties? I'm trying to achieve something like this now! Raymond Scott belongs to the phalanx of unique people like Les Paul, Oscar Sala, and Leon Theremin, to whom we owe so much in developing our own musical identity today. MANHATTAN RESEARCH INC. is one of the best CD presentations I have ever had my hands on."
-Holger Czukay, CAN

Clyde94, Friday, 12 September 2003 18:06 (sixteen years ago) link

Raymond Scott was more than a 1/4 century older than Bob Moog, and was an early influence...

B. MOOG: "Raymond Scott was definitely in the forefront of developing electronic music technology, and in the forefront of using it commercially as a musician. He was the first -- he foresaw the use of sequencers and electronic oscillators to make sounds. These were the watershed uses of electronic circuitry."

More here: http://RaymondScott.com/moog.html


electrobeast, Friday, 12 September 2003 18:12 (sixteen years ago) link

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

So, "all" of you "guys" work for Basta?

Mr. Diamond (diamond), Friday, 12 September 2003 18:18 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd love to work for Basta.

Kid Baltan & Tom Dissevelt 4 CD box set coming soon!

jl (Jon L), Friday, 12 September 2003 18:36 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd "love" to work for Basta "too" - must be "more" exciting than "my" 9-to-5. (But hey - I've turned so many people on to Raymond Scott, I at least deserve a kickback by now!)

BTW, Mr. D., I lifted the quotes above from RaymondScott.com, which is not a Basta site.

Clyde94, Monday, 15 September 2003 01:56 (sixteen years ago) link

the "manhattan research" double cd & book is ace for the 25 mins or so of truly astonishing music on there - the rest is just shitty bleeps behing someone speaking sales copy...

I'd say the commercial stuff is still pretty fascinating. That IBM ad, for instance, was a work of genius. The curious can be assured that there are enough truly great moments to make this worth investigating... especially if you're a fan of Broadcast or Plone et al.

Nag! Nag! Nag! (Nag! Nag! Nag!), Monday, 15 September 2003 06:12 (sixteen years ago) link

What?? The SOOTHING SOUNDS albums were released on EPIC RECORDS (40 years ago)! Who knows how many ears they reached?

Not very many as, according to the sleevenotes, very few records were ever pressed

Dadaismus (Dada), Monday, 15 September 2003 12:42 (sixteen years ago) link

Another amazing fact about Raymond Scott is that he was employed by Berry Gordy in a research capacity at Motown in the 1970s - to develop his extraordinary "electronium" device

Dadaismus (Dada), Monday, 15 September 2003 12:45 (sixteen years ago) link

sixteen years pass...

Gonna go in on Raymond Scott today, any streaming era recommendations?

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 31 October 2019 14:28 (two weeks ago) link

The Three Willow Park comp from a couple years ago is on Spotify & full of amazing stuff

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Thursday, 31 October 2019 14:44 (two weeks ago) link

"Microphone Music" is my go-to Raymond which is "A collection of unreleased titles, radio performances, first-rate rehearsals and forgotten gems by the Raymond Scott Quintette recorded between 1936 and 1939."

Lurve his work!

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 31 October 2019 20:57 (two weeks ago) link

Big important double CD of his 50s/60s electronic recordings for adverts, Expo etc — called "Manhattan Research Inc." — put out last year. Gimme a day or so and I'll "review" it for you (bit late tonite, esp. when I'm already on a promise re Norman F & Cornelius C over on another thread..)

― mark s, Tuesday, May 29, 2001 12:00 AM (eighteen years ago)

on spotify and apple music

djdirtbagstyle, Thursday, 31 October 2019 22:10 (two weeks ago) link

yeah Manhattan Research is great, I actually kinda love that it's full of ads because it really does take you to the 1950s

frogbs, Thursday, 31 October 2019 22:16 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah its a really amazing package. I got it when it came out, I was in high school and it completely rearranged my musical brain

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Thursday, 31 October 2019 23:58 (two weeks ago) link

thanks to this bump I'm listening again to it now, I forgot how weird this stuff was. "Limbo: The Organized Mind" is such a cool track, very much an early Twilight Zone sort of thing

I also liked this thing a lot. "Raymond Scott remixed by DJs" is not exactly the most appealing thing but I believe these are all plunderphonics dudes, pretty much everything you hear is directly from the archives

https://www.raymondscott.net/scottrewired/

frogbs, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 18:50 (two weeks ago) link

I attended a NYC Scott tribute show in '97 that featured a Bob Moog lecture/demonstration.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 19:00 (two weeks ago) link

If you like Powerhouse-era Raymond Scott you should definitely check out the similarly very composed but very swinging John Kirby Sextet. Don Byron put out a disk covering tunes from both called Bug Music back in 1996. These days I prefer Kirby's two-disk Complete Columbia and RCA Victor Recordings, lo-fi though it is.

screator, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 05:21 (two weeks ago) link

Thanks for the recommendation, there's some stuff on Spotify and it swings hard. 30s and 40s swing just makes me happy!

Speaking of Spotify, there's some Raymond Scott albums on there that I'm not familiar with - "The Uncollected", "Essential Works", and some other later stuff. Anyone have thoughts on these?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 18:14 (two weeks ago) link


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