Until the early twentieth century there was almost an exclusive use of mechanical instruments for the creation of music. With the development of electricity and electronic techniques, scientists gained access to the possibility to set electricity in service of music.
It would become a process and development of decades before these techniques were used in popular culture such as dance, which was introduced in the Netherlands twenty five years ago.
Electronic music exists for sixty years now. All the more reason for Kees Tazelaar to investigate, though unintentionally, its origin. His research took more than ten years. From a reconstruction of old audio tapes from the Philips Pavilion to the collection of information from quite a lot of European archives, he found and paved his way to the final outcome of his research; the origin of electronic music in the Netherlands. The research evolved in a thesis and in the end a book ‘On the Threshold of Beauty’, which will be published in November 2013 by V2_.
At Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 Tazelaar was in the Natlab at Baltan Laboratories to hold a reading for an almost sold out room. For an interested audience the focus issue of the book in this presentation was the electronic music developed by Philips in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
It was found that in the early fifties, Philips and its Physics Laboratory Natlab employees Roelof Vermeulen, Dick Raaijmakers en Tom Dissevelt were not the first ones who engaged in the research and creation of electronic music. The development started earlier in the twentieth century and arose from a mixture of ideas and from a cooperation of emerged insights, originating from different countries all over the world. An interesting factor in this case is that Room 306 in the Natlab was the first intentionally arranged studio for electronic music in the Netherlands and one of the first in Europe.
Also, the Philips Pavilion for audiovisual multimedia presentations, which was developed for the international exhibition of Brussels in 1958, was progressive in its time: through stereophonic sound circular routes were created, making the sound seem to travel through the building, which established an immersive experience for visitors in a reality that seemed to differ from the here and now. In other words, the experience of surround sound that we know in modern times.
Philips originated in bulbs and light and came through radio and sound, film and images to become, by simulations and insights of scientists worldwide, eventually and perhaps inadvertently active in the acoustic research department and thus the creation of electronic music.
And so Tazelaar, who narrated passionately about his long-term research and emphasized this with interesting pictures, movie clips and music from those times, illustrated once again that experiment, freedom and cooperation are important aspects to arrive at new insights.
Report and images by Chris de Zeeuw.