In 1895, Thaddeus Cahill, an inventor from Iowa, started work on the world’s first electromechanical musical instrument. Weighing in at 200 tons and measuring 60 feet long, the Telharmonium was a colossal machine for producing and sharing music on the telephone.
In the 126 years since, electronic music has evolved in similarly bold and ingenious ways, a testament to the magic that occurs when human beings build and interact with machines. We listen to it while working out, riding the subway, studying for exams — and hopefully soon again at the clubs and festivals that have made it what it is today.
Music, Makers & Machines, the new exhibit from Google Arts & Culture and YouTube, celebrates the history of electronic music: its inventors, artists, sounds and technology. More than 50 international institutions, record labels, festivals and industry experts have come together to capture the crucial role electronic music plays within wider culture, from the WDR Studio for Electronic Music to Blacktronika to the “Diva of the Diodes” Suzanne Ciani. There are more than 250 online exhibitions, an extensive archive of photos, videos, 360° tours and 3D-scanned objects, including synthesizers and the door of Berlin’s legendary Tresor techno club.
In the spirit of pioneers like Cahill, you can also compose your own electronic music. Use the augmented reality feature of AR Synth to mix and match five famous synthesizers in a virtual electronic music studio.