In 1986 the San Francisco Synthesizer Ensemble (SFSE) performed live at 'Theater Artaud' in San Francisco. These are some clips from the performances. A year later, in 1987, SFSE sampled the Golden Gate Bridge and created a 4-part suite of music for the Bridge's 50th Anniversary celebration.
SFSE has reissued the their 50th Anniversary Suite for the Golden Gate Bridge CD released originally in 1987, now available on iTunes. The Theater Artaud recordings are in production for re-issue in 2012.
Playing the Golden Gate Bridge like a ‘musical instrument’ was the inspiration behind Doug McKechnie, Michael Phillips and Arnie Lazarus stealing onto the Bridge around midnight in August of 1975 and capturing the sounds of the bridge with Arnie’s new invention, the FRAP: Flat Response Audio Pickup. Twelve years later, after the invention of the EMAX sampler keyboard, McKechnie and his composer-colleagues of the San Francisco Synthesizer Ensemble were able to play the bridge as a musical instrument, creating their Anniversary Suite for the Bridge’s 50th Birthday on May 27th, 1987. This CD showcases the original Suite as well as the actual ‘Sounds of the Golden Gate Bridge.’
In 1975 Doug McKechnie and a small group of musicians, scientists and inventors leased the Golden Gate Bridge between 2 and 4 a.m. for $13.50 an hour and recorded the sounds of striking the vertical cables, guard rails, light posts, and the main suspension cable with a wooden mallet. Their dream to “play the bridge” was inspired by the cover of the first issue of Musicworks Magazine featuring artist David Wills’ drawing of an alien robot plucking the bridges’ cables like a harp.
12 years later, with the invention of the EMAX sampling keyboard, McKechnie gathered ‘The San Francisco Synthesizer Ensemble’ together to complete the dream and celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1987. Each musician in the band composed a piece of music inspired by the bridge, some pieces using the “sounds of the bridge itself.” Also showcased on this CD are some of the original recording from 1975 and a demo of “Playing the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Selections on the CD: “The Golden Gate Before the Bridge” by Doug McKechnie; “The Building of the Bridge” by Paul J. de Benedictis (de Benedictis Music/BMI); “The Opening of the Bridge” by John Lewis; The Present into the Future” by Scott Singer. The remastered reissue CD is dedicated to the memory of Scott Singer.
Doug McKechnie is a producer, composer, and performer, born in Berkeley, CA. He studied theater, film, photography and communications at San Francisco State and began performing with one of the first Moog Synthesizers in the late ‘60s. He has created music for theater, dance, film and television, been nominated for Emmys and Oscars under the aegis of Soundtracks, a company he created in the mid ‘70s. He created the San Francisco Synthesizer Ensemble in the early ‘80s and wrote and produced an annual television variety show for two decades beginning in 1990. Currently he offers professional photography services and continues his musical endeavors.
Paul J. de Benedictis is a composer and musician born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has performed and composed music for film, television and theater over the past 30 years, and released several independent albums on his Mnemonic Records label. He plays guitar, piano and synthesizers, and has a deep knowledge of computers and music. His involvement in the evolution of music software and technology began in 1984 when he joined Palo Alto-based Opcode Systems as its first employee and guided many of the major innovations that are now industry standards including co-inventing “Studio Vision” the first software sequencer with integrated MIDI and audio tracks. He is still a member of the 1980s band 'The San Francisco Synthesizer Ensemble' and owns a record label, Mnemonic Records.
John A. Lewis was classily trained on piano from childhood and self-taught on the guitar in high school. He performed three-finger style impressionistic improvisation from the mid-60s through the 70s. In the late 70s, he began composing soundtrack music for various media. Won an Emmy for a PBS soundtrack. He still plays music - can't stop!
Scott Singer was a four-time Emmy Award-Winning Composer, Producer/Performer, Writer and Director. He was the Technical Musical Director for the High-Definition DVD live recordings of Boz Scaggs Jazz Album and Greatest Hits, and the HD simulcast of the San Francisco Opera Rigoletto. Singer sat on the Board of Governors at NARAS- The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and his recording studio, Singer Productions, was in operation for 24 years. A San Francisco State Alumni, Scott Singer passed away in 2009.
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