When children could say the name of Gary Glitter

In this short series of articles I’m going to make a few observations and suggestions on making music; I’ll be taking in the reasons for, and fun to be had from making music; some ideas about making electronic oriented music, taking in a extended and picturesque detour along the acoustic byways, before coming back to the electronic straight and narrow.

As I have described in the article on Jimi Hendrix my fascination with electronic music started early. It wasn’t just about Jimi Hendrix of course, or for that matter solely about electronic music – the exotic sounds of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, the groovy boogie of T-Rex, the earthy stomp of Gary Glitter; the pastoral surrealist charm of The Beatles, and secret guilty pleasures of Abba all held sway in my world. Back then we didn’t know about the ghastly proclivities of Gary Glitter so one day as I’m being given a lift to school in Kevin Connoly’s dad’s car, Kevin Connoly’s dad, sliding an 8-track into the machine turns to me and asks “Do you like jazz, Tim?”

It strikes me as a perfectly reasonable response to reply.

“Yeah, I love Gary Glitter.”

At school all the hip kids liked Yes, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and their ilk. I tried to, but Yes went on way too much as did Pink Floyd who could be pretty depressing at times too. Then along came punk. Frankly most of it was a bit shouty and not really as tuneful as the poppy delights of Abba and The Beatles. But it certainly wasn’t bloody Whitesnake or Led Zeppelin, those cool kids no longer looked so cool, and it came with what our friends in California call a ‘can do’ attitude. After all you only need two chords for a tune, any more is showing off and you certainly didn’t need ten minute sodding guitar solos. Later on along came music like Einsturzende Neubauten, Non, Cabaret Voltaire and the sublime drones of Eno’s On Land. In the context of my glam rock seventies musical education this wasn’t really music at all, or at least ‘it’s music Jim, but not as we know it.’ Finally stir in Brian Eno’s ‘I’m not a musician’ claims and the stage was set for me to set aside the jibes about my tone deaf singing, cast aside the shackles of classical flute playing and unencumbered by talent begin….tinkering about.

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