Sunday, April 4, 2010

Synth turns 40

Easter 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the first-ever live public performance with a MiniMoog.

On Easter Sunday 1970, David Borden and Steve Drews of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. - the world's first synthesizer ensemble --performed "Easter" (Borden's first tonal pulse-piece composed for the Moog) to audiences at Cornell University's Sage Chapel, in Ithaca, NY. They used the MiniMoog prototype, thanks to Bob Moog.

For Borden's reminiscence of this event, see his website:

Across the decades, Borden continued to lead Mother Mallard, whose synth instrumentation would expand to include additional electric and acoustic instruments -- and notably, Apple's new personal computers and eventually, laptop Macs. From his first days employed as the keyboardist to Cornell's dance program, Borden would eventually become Head of Cornell University's new Digital Music Program. Effectively, his career and the work of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company formed a living bridge from Moog and the Analog Age to the days of Apple and Digital music -- the missing link, if you will, between MiniMoogs and iPods.

Recordings from Mother Mallard Portable Masterpiece Co. have been reissued by Cuneiform records as *Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. 1970-1973" -- which includes "Easter"[19:23] -- and *Like a Duck to Water*,--which includes a Quicktime movie featuring Mother Mallard in its early, Moog-based days.

As a composer, Borden would go on to create some of the most significant Minimalist works of the 20th C. -- equal to the works of Riley, Glass and Reich, despite the fact that Borden has never been as widely known as those acclaimed masters. Critics have called Borden's "Countinuing Story of Counterpoint" series, released in a series of 3 CDs on Cuneiform, "the Goldberg Variations of Minimalism". Now retired from his Digital Music position at Cornell, Borden continues to compose prolifically today, and to perform live with his ongoing group Mother Mallard.

For Mother Mallard/David Borden works on Cuneiform, please see:

On April 17th, David Borden will be performing with Josh Oxford at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA, as part of the "Waves of Inspiration" exhibit -- the first exhibit of artifacts from the Bob Moog's archives. Borden, on the MiniMoog Voyager, and Oxford, on the MiniMoog Model D, will perform Borden's landmark 1970 work "Easter" as well as his new composition "Dreams of Jimmy (in memory of Jimmy Guiffre)" The concert will be at 7pm.

Earlier on the 17th, at 1pm, Borden will lead a tour of the Moog exhibition with the exhibit's curator, Tatiana Sizonenko.

For more on the Borden concert and exhibition tour on April 17th, see:

For more on the Moog exhibit, "Waves of Inspiration," see:

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