Buy “Johann Sebastian Bach, Wendy Carlos – Switched-On Bach – Music” Online

Switched-On Bach

Walter (now Wendy) Carlos performed this album, using the (then) state of the art analogue synth equipment and multi-tracking magnetic tape. When the music was written well over 200 years previously, J. S. Bach was at the forefront of musical endeavor – new tuning systems were being experimented with, and for the first time in history, pieces could be transposed to virtually any key and played by any instrument within range. Carlos continued this tradition, but used contemporary electronic equipment to faithfully reproduce and enhance the original arrangements in ways which would have been hitherto impossible. To me, this album (first listened to on 12" LP in the early 1970s) provided a gateway to baroque counterpoint, it’s not immediately obvious that the synths at the time were "monophonic" – ie could only play one note at a time, and its testimony to the production this is only apparent in hindsight. This recording spawned many – far less successful – so called "classic crossover" so called "easy listening" albums – with a few notable exceptions, this should always be your starting point. Check it out! Wendy Carlos’s Switched-On Bach is one of those rare novelty recordings that never gets boring. In the capable hands of Carlos, Bach’s keyboard masterpieces sound like they were made for the otherworldly blurps, farts, and chimes of a Moog synthesizer. And, in a sense, they were. Bach’s inventive music doesn’t lose any of its contrapuntal punch in these complicated arrangements and, novelties aside, the playing is great on this Grammy Award-winning classic. Whether performing Bach’s “Two-Part Inventions,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” or “Wachet Auf,” Carlos offers one-of-a-kind interpretations, her synthesizers still sounding as otherworldly as they did in 1968. This is one of those weird and wonderful classical releases that anyone–classical scholar or pop enthusiast–can enjoy. A Switched-On box set exists, capturing most of Carlos’s baroque-gone-berserk output, but this is the disc that started it all. In a word, fun. –Jason Verlinde

Switched-On Bach Review

The scene is an Elementary School music classroom circa 1972. The teacher is telling the students about a new musical instrument called the Moog Synthesizer. It can make sounds and noises that could not be created before. One of the pioneers of this sound and instrument was Wendy Carlos, although I have to admit, I pictured the Bach guy on the cover behind the synth keyboard. The teacher then put the needle down on the LP and it took the students to a whole new level of music appreciation. I’m not a musician or in a music related field of work. But this recording did for me exactly what my music teacher wanted it to. It grabbed my attention with the new strange sounds of the Moog while instilling some of the great classical music in my little mind. Almost four decades later I happened upon this CD on Amazon. Would it still be good? Would it sound childish and immature like I was back then. Or would it be the mind opening sound I remembered?Obviously, since I gave it five stars, it was the latter. The second I hit play and heard the first few bars, I was not only transported back to wonderful memories, but also opened to a new awareness that this music, in varied forms, had become part of my life. I recognized one song from a Disneyland Parade of Lights, another from a movie or commercial. It was a very cool RE-experience. This recording has stood the test of time in my life and I have a feeling that I am not the only one who would experience this pleasant flashback. At first I switched off the last track which is Carlos explaining some of the processes and procedures she went through while finding just the right sounds for this album. After reveling in the music for a bit, I actually listened to the track and gained another increment of respect for this pioneer of music. I highly recommend this disc not only as a piece of musical history and appreciation but as a collection of wonderful music! -Read Reviews-

One of the attractions of this CD is that it portrays the Moog synthesizer. Its main attraction, in my opinion, is the performance in which Ms. Wendy Carlos has revealed the cosmic aspect of Bach’s music. The Moog synthesizer was used as a vehicle to achieve this goal. The enormous popularity of this recording no doubt lies in the fact that Ms. Carlos has taken the best of the Bach’s music and amplified it. This music is an abstraction fitting our times. Ms. Carlos has catapulted Bach to space. One can hear the cosmic fireworks, see brilliant colors, the birth and death of the stars, feel the loneliness of the infinite stretches of space, and the ultimate power of the hope that we can conquer our own mortality. I think that this beautiful music is all about the human spirit. It is Bach at his best. I fell in love with this recording almost three decades ago. I maintain that there is no nicer performance of Bach. The genius of Ms. Wendy Carlos sparkles. It makes me reflect on the human achievements. It is wonderful that she has produced something so great, and that so many people have benefited from her talent. My favorites are Symphonia to Cantata #29, Prelude and Fugue #7 in E-Flat Major and Prelude and Fugue #2 in C Minor (both from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier), and also the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major. The recording is enhanced and it has a delightful addition of about 8 minutes in which Ms. Wendy Carlos tells us about the early beginnings of this project. The CD comes with a very attractive booklet that is artistically designed and has several informative write-ups about the history and development of this project. This recording is a must!

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