Biography | Liner Notes | Soundtrack | Moog Obituary

A Biographical Sketch

From the back of the original ACO soundtrack LP.

With the appearance of Switched On Bach in the fall of 1968, its creator, Walter Carlos, became an instant celebrity and the album became the best selling classical record of all time. Carlos has continued his unique work in electronic music with a second record, The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, and, now, music for Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange.

Since his early youth, Carlos (born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1938) displayed a strong interest in both music and scientific technology: at the precious age of 10 he composed a Trio for Clarinet, Accordion and Piano, and four years later constructed a small computer. When he was 17 years old he assembled an electronic music studio and produced his first electronic composition which utilized sounds created and manipulated on tape recorders. As a student at Brown University (1958-1962), Carlos studied music and physics and taught electronic music at informal sessions; later at Columbia University (1962-1965), he did extensive work at the Columbia-Princeton electronic music center. During that period, Carlos assisted Leonard Bernstein in a concert of electronic music at Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, and also saw two of his scores, Dialogues for Piano and Two Loudspeakers and Variations for Flute and Electronic Sound, commercially recorded.

Intending to develop an electronic sound producer which could validly be termed a musical instrument, Carlos began a collaboration with engineer Robert Moog in 1966. The result was a prototype of Carlos' special synthesizer on which he performed and recorded his realizations of Bach and other composers and his music for A Clockwork Orange.
- Phillip Ramey

Liner Notes

The original liner notes to the Walter Carlos' ACO album (not the official soundtrack).

Switch On:
O my brothers, Stanley Kubrick was thought by many a chelloveck to have gone out of his rassodock when he A Clockwork Orange sought to convert from book to film for the droogs of the bolshy sinny. "Bezoomy, Thou, and even bolnoy," was like the message of the nadmenny lewdies. "No pee and em would want their malchicks and devotchkas to viddy the ultraviolence of Anthony Burgess."
    But, little brothers, Kubrick (whose
2001: A Space Odyssey had been so horrorshow) kopatted Clockwork and, with no appy polly loggy to anyone, he made it come to jeezny for the sinny. Then did all the chellovecks creech with radosty at his "icily brilliant vision" (Newsweek). His film became "Best Picture of the Year" and Kubrick "Best Director of the Year" as the critics lubbilubbed in print and on TV to the genius of this dobby moodge, S.K.

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All righty right, my brothers....
    This is a record album. We're not out to sell the movie--it doesn't need our help. What we're filling you in on here is the background of the music by Walter Carlos that helped make the picture as great as it was. Some of the music in this album, you heard in the movie house--some of it you've never heard before. All of it was created especially for, and because of, A Clockwork Orange.
    If truth is really stranger than fiction, then the story of the Kubrick-Carlos collaboration is one of the strangest, and truest, you can find. Witness:
    Shortly after the success of his Switched-On Bach album, Walter Carlos and his long-time producer Rachel Elkind began working with a spectrum follower--a device that converts sounds, such as speech, into electronic signals that mirror the overtones and rhythms of the original. The idea: To create the first electronic "vocal" piece. The piece selected for translation: the Choral Movement from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. After much preliminary work, Rachel felt that the Beethoven selection needed some kind of an introduction, something to ease the listener into this new sound of a well-known piece. Walter began work on what was later to develop into an original, self-sustaining composition entitled "Timesteps".
    Walter was, by his own admission, "about 3 1/2 minutes" into Timesteps when a friend gave him a paperback copy of A Clockwork Orange. Like so many other readers, Walter fell under the spell of Anthony Burgess' vision of a world of tomorrow filled with ultra-violence. He was also struck by the fact that his "Timesteps" music seemed to capture the exact feeling of the opening scenes of Burgess' book. Further work, and "Timesteps" evolved, subconsciously, into a kind of musical poem based on Clockwork--a work that, as Walter says, was an "autonomous composition with an uncanny affinity for Clockwork."
    Then, the same friend who had given him Clockwork sent a clipping from a London newspaper announcing that Stanley Kubrick had just begun production of a film based on Burgess' book. Walter and Rachel, both admirers of Kubrick's previous work, began to share the same day-dream: "Wouldn't it be great if..." Then came an announcement in the New York Times that Kubrick had actually finished filming. "Timesteps" was also finished, so Rachel sprang into action. Through a friend, literary agent Lucy Kroll, she contacted Kubrick's United States representative. "Timesteps" and Beethoven's Choral Movement were airmailed to Kubrick. Walter and Rachel waited. Finally, came a request from Kubrick: Could they come to London and discuss the use of Walter's music in the film?
    They came. They saw. And not only did they agree to Kubrick's use of the Beethoven Movement and "Timesteps" for the movie, but also Walter began to arrange/perform some of the music already contracted for by Kubrick, and they even set down original ideas for other background music.
    In this album, Walter Carlos and Rachel Elkind have brought together all the music that Walter suggested, arranged and/or composed for this remarkable film. In addition to the selections from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (including Walter's scintillant version of the Scherzo), and "Timesteps", here is "The Thieving Magpie" ("As we would have done it, had there been time") and a startling piece of original music, "Country Lane". This latter piece, which depicts Alex's near drowning at the hands of his ex-Droogs, utilizes motifs from "The Thieving Magpie" plus the medieval religious theme of "Dies Irae" (Day of Wrath), which is also heard in the title music, plus authentic rain storm sounds (as in Walter's "Sonic Seasonings" album) plus a suggestion of "Singin' in the Rain". (In its few minutes, this "Country Lane" manages to sum up the mood of the entire film.)
    Here, then, is the music that you heard--and did not hear--in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Here is the only recording actually supervised by both persons responsible for this remarkable film score. Here is the only complete collection of Walter Carlos's music for A Clockwork Orange.

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So my droogs, if you're feeling oddy knocky or gloopy or chocked with chepooka, you are invited to sloosh the music of Clockwork and feel horrorshow once more. It is all, to quote Clockwork's "hero," Alex, "Bliss, bliss and heaven....Hear all proper. Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited."
--Chris Nelson

Soundtrack

Go to the ACO Soundtrack page

Moog Obituary

Hundreds remember Robert Moog at service at small rock club
By Paul Nowell, Associated Press
Asheville, NC 8/24/05
One of the highlights of Wednesday's service was an appearance by Wendy Carlos, who composed the musical score for the Stanley Kubrick film A Clockwork Orange. Besides playing a tape of the opening music to that movie, Carlos also played recordings of two other pieces of music that featured her playing on her own Moog synthesizer. She also shared some personal anecdotes from her 42-year relationship with Moog. "He was a scientist who spoke music," she said. "I was a musician who spoke science." She recalled telling him: "I want my own synthesizer. It's that simple."

    Robert A. Moog, the synthesizer pioneer who invented the Moog, has died at the age of 71 on August 21, 2005. Moog had been diagnosed with brain cancer in April. He received radiation treatment and chemotherapy, but died Sunday at his home in Asheville, outside Raleigh, N.C. Moog (which rhymes with vogue) created and marketed the first commercial modular synthesizer in 1964, while studying engineering physics at Cornell University.
    The instrument allowed musicians to generate a range of sounds - both naturalistic and otherworldly. It was small, light and versatile, and was quickly embraced by musicians. The first record to feature a Moog was Cosmic Sounds by the Zodiac. The instrument was quickly picked up by other musicians, such as the Beatles, looking for ways to fuse their psychedelic drug experiences with their music. The Beatles used a Moog on their 1969 album Abbey Road, and a Moog was the source of the eerie sound on the soundtrack to the 1971 movie A Clockwork Orange.
    Keyboardist Walter (later Wendy) Carlos, a friend of Bob Moog, demonstrated the range of the synthesizer by using it as his only instrument on the 1968 album Switched-On Bach - one of the best-selling classical music recordings of all time. 
    "Suddenly, there was a whole group of people in the world looking for a new sound in music, and it picked up very quickly," composer Herb Deutsch said Monday. He is the Hofstra University music professor emeritus who helped develop the Moog prototype back in the 1960s. "The Moog came at the right time," he said.
    Popularity of the Moog surged in the 1970s, being used in extended keyboard solos in songs by groups like Manfred Mann, Yes and Pink Floyd. "The sound defined progressive music as we know it," said Keith Emerson, keyboardist for the rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It also heavily influenced the development of 1970s funk, hip-hop, disco, and early techno.
    In the 1980s, the Moog was used less, as digital synthesizers took over, but later the instrument experienced a bit of a revival. In 2004, a New York concert promoter staged the first Moogfest, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moog, and featuring members of Yes and Parliament/Funkadelic.
    In 1973, Robert Moog, who had initially set up shop in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., sold his company. Five years later, he moved to a remote plot outside Asheville N.C. - a scenic Appalachian Mountain city and center for new-age pursuits that Rolling Stone magazine once dubbed "America's new freak capital."
    Despite traveling in circles that included jet-setting rockers, he always considered himself a technician. "I'm an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers," he said in 2000. "They use the tools." Robert Moog is survived by his wife Ileana and five children.

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