1964: Raymond Scott - Soothing Sounds for Baby

Raymond Scott is not much of a household name. Usually when people do recognize him it’s for the many soundtracks Carl Stalling adapted from his material in old Warner Bros. cartoons (Scott himself never directly wrote music for cartoons). In spite of this, Scott is without a doubt one of the most influential people in all of electronic music. In the 30s he began work in the field, inventing early electronic instruments such as the Clavivox and Electronium; Bob Moog — as in Bob “invented-the-fucking-Moog-Synthesizer” Moog — called him an important personal influence.

The greatest of Scott’s work can be found in the midst of a three disc collection, Soothing Sounds for Baby. It is exactly what it sounds like. Scott worked with the Gesell Institute of Human Development to create an electronic music album that could help soothe babies to sleep. The pieces consist of playful melodies, lullabies, and some more abstract moments (“Tic Toc” simply simulates a ticking watch). The best of all the pieces, “Little Miss Echo,” is one of the most breathtaking pieces of early electronic music ever recorded. It is a hypnotic, dreamy, and effortlessly beautiful synthesizer piece that becomes even more stunning when you realize it was released more than a decade before Eno’s Music for Airports. Simply put: nobody was making music like this in 1964.

“Little Miss Echo” builds over seven minutes with various looping electronic chirps, blips, and beeps. The entire piece is carried by a warm pulsing beat while other melodies seem to dance around it. It may have been intended for babies (“Little Miss Echo” in particular was intended for babies 12-18 months) but this music works for everyone. The particular timbre of Scott’s instruments triggers something in the brain that truly does relax and soothe. It is unbelievable how similar some of these tracks are to the ambient and electronic music of the late 70s such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and of course Brian Eno, but on the other hand I’m not surprised ─ Scott was so ahead of his time it simply took everyone else a decade to play catch up.

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

Most Read