Douglas Leedy: “Silent Night”
From the album A Very Merry Electric Chrismas to You! (1971)
Coming at the tail end of the post-Switched-On Bach ”Moogsploitation” craze of the late 1960s, Douglas Leedy’s A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You! is a lovely and musically sensitive synthesis (pun intended) of timeless holiday melodies and the cutting-edge electronic music technology of its time.
Leedy is an American composer, conductor, and musicologist whose slim discography belies his many years of activity in a variety of genres. In the late 1960s he taught at UCLA, where he also established an electronic music studio. Later he abandoned 12-tone equal temperament and pursued a musical style inspired by modal scales, minimalist repetitive patterns, and Carnatic Indian musical traditions. Since 2003, he has published music under the name Bhisma Xenotechnites.
A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You! features mostly “straight” arrangements of Christmas tunes, with some tracks (such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “The First Noel”) showing off Leedy’s not inconsiderable classical chops in florid variations on melodic themes. In his version of “Silent Night,” a gently modulated electronic drone provides a perfectly soporific accompaniment to the lilting melody.
The album was produced at the UCLA electronic music studio and features both Moog and Buchla synthesizers, as well as a mysterious touch-controlled instrument called the “Ognob Generator,” a tiny custom-build device created by Leedy with the assistance of W. R. Biglow, Jr.
Leedy’s two other electronic albums, The Electric Zodiac (1969) and Entropical Paradise (1971) show his more experimental side. Entropical Paradise, for example, is a two-hour work comprising six “sonic environments” created by free-running generative synthesizer patches.
Not surprisingly, A Very Merry Electric Christmas to You! was not the only Moog Christmas venture of the period. The Moog Machine’s Christmas Becomes Electric, a decidedly tame introduction to the synthesizer, actually predated Leedy’s record by two years.
Played 86 time(s).
December 20, 2012, 5:10pm