I've been creating synthesized electronic music for several decades now using everything
from musique concrète (yes, a fancy French phrase for manipulating taped sounds)
to one of the earliest ARP 2600s (in Kansas, at least) as well as an ARP Pro Soloist
and (on occasion) an ARP 2500 and an ARP Odyssey, though I generally did most of
my electronic work on the 2600 or modified tapes.
My ARP 2600 was augmented with additional home-brew equipment that I either designed
and built from my own designs or which I assembled (and also often modified) from
kits sold by PAiA Electronics, Inc.(which today still sells a variety of synthesizer
kits and synthesizers that are worth checking out); My home-brew modules were generally
"bread-boarded" circuits using the then-new technology of the day: Integrated Circuits
(coupled with parts scrounged from old TVs and radios).
And, yes, I even did a little tinkering inside the case of the ARP 2600 itself, adding
a large capacitors to create a springy, bouncing pitch effect to the keyboard voltage
(with an added toggle switch to turn it off when it wasn't desired). Additionally
I wired in a "split keyboard" module that allowed two voltages to be generated rather
than the single, for dual notes rather than the monophonic output of the original
(Side note: Yes, I am the same Duncan Long who was part of the trio, Concrete Rubber
Band. I played electric guitar and synthesizer among other instruments and also did
many of the vocals... but that is another story.)
I eventually got an MA degree in music composition (something that surprises those
who know me via my artwork or writing) at Kansas State University. This stint of
education was very worthwhile for "cleaning my ears" as well as teaching me how to
keep music interesting and balanced through a variety of useful forms and techniques.
(It also gave me skills later transferred to my art and writing -- but that's yet
also another story.) This period also gave me access to the huge ARP 2500 located
at Kansas State University where Professor Handley Jacksontaught composition with
a nice emphasis on electronic music.
Since I don't (for some time now) earn a living with my music, I've been free to
develop some styles of my own without an eye toward making a quick buck. This freedom
has permitted me to slowly develop music that's a bit hard to describe (which is
always why you need to listen to music, not talk or read about it), but which employs
several types of synthesis via virtual systems based within computers. This is combined
with a mix of my old musique concrète techniques, now updated for digital "splice
and cut" rather than on magnetic tape (the latter being something I will never miss);
this latter process often is used to generate original elements for music (which
then can become a sampled note or thematic element in my music) and then is often
employed again to add the finishing touches to a composition, this last step often
transforming a lackluster piece into a real gem (at least to my ears).
The software employed for composition varies from piece to piece. However some of
the key programs that I return to again and again with the key one being AudioMultch,
along with a huge variety of MIDI sequencers (I have not yet found one I really like)
and VST plugins as well as a wealth of software synths and VST plugins (Crystal,
Arppe2600va, and discoDSP HighLife being my current favorites). I have a rather convoluted
compositional process with loops, samples, and AudioMulch generated clips being modified
in a wave editor (currently Audacity since I can't afford the overly expensive version
of CoolEdit now offered by Adobe, a company apparently intent on bleeding the last
bit of money from artists). The various tracks are then mixed down in Cakewalk with
more banks of VST plugins regularly used at this stage as well. Often these mixes
are then processed one final time in a wave editor for some fine tuning.
My compositional approach is based on classical elements -- though this may not be
noticed by most listeners. This permits spinning out themes and the creation of counterpoint
elements for a denser, more (to me at least) ear-pleasing and intellectual stimulating
sound than is often the case with electronic or popular music. As with my writing
and artwork, I have dispensed with the pen and ink for the most part, instead transferring
the notes directly into the computer where they are reassembled in a variety of ways,
avoiding paper altogether (and step that has been engaged with no remorse for the
"good old days").
Not all my music is in twelve tones, which also gives it a different feel and, on
occasion, creates complex chords that are alien yet pleasing to the ear. This results
in an electronic mix that isn't quite ambient, is perhaps a bit avant-garde, and
is generally rhythmic (perhaps with a nod to the good old days when I played a rock
guitar); you won't mistake it for Lawrence Welk.
So what is it? I don't know. I'll leave it to the historians to classify what I'm
doing. "Twenty-First Century Classical," perhaps? Or "Klassik Electronik"?
Thus far there's no record label to publish my works; after a fruitless pursuit for
a recording contract, I have given up searching. I suppose finding a label is a doubtful
proposition since I don't do drugs nor do I beat my wife or kick the family dogs,
all necessities (I am told) for being a successful musician these days. But for those
companies interested in music rather than a warped life style, "I am waiting for
And with proper training tutoring, I am sure I can become just as warped as anyone
now on your payroll. In the meantime (and just in case), I've placed some of my
works online in MP3 and streaming formats at:
I can almost guarantee that you'll like my music if you have enjoyed the music in
Forbidden Planet (composed by Louis and Bebe Barronor) or enjoy any of the following
from time to time: Phillip Glass, John Cage, Karlheinze Stockhausen, Wendy Carlos,
Igor Stravinsky, or Paul Hindemith. No, my music isn't exactly like any of these;
it is generally easier on the ears. Nor is it a "cross between" one or another. But
I think many of my pieces would "feel at home" in this crowd. See what you think.
If you take the time to visit the site and are a little unsure of what to listen
to, you might want to start with the MP3s entitled Celestial Psalms as this is the
more "traditional" piece and things sort of move on from there.
Let me know what you think about my music. Well, on second thought, only if you like
it. (I get enough of the "You are the spawn of the Devil" letters with my artwork,
so there's no need for anyone to duplicate efforts of their fellow crackpots.)
If you think they'd be interested in a listen, please tell your friends, relatives,
and local politicians about my online MP3 downloads. Links are always appreciated,
no need to ask permission, (unless you're writing for "Sites that Suck"). And if
you don’t like the music, just change the channel and please don’t yield to the temptation
to break my kneecaps.
Thanks for your time and consideration. Hope you enjoy the music. --Duncan Long