I was going back over some old emails the other day, and I rediscovered an email interview I did with Dominic Glynn back in 2006 for a school project. His answers are interesting so I thought I would share them here.
How did your career get started?
I started by forming a band with friends at school. I was the keyboard player, and saved up to buy myself first an electronic piano, an electric organ, and eventually my first synthesizer. A few years later the band ended up with a record deal. As so often happens in the music industry, though, the deal came to nothing and we never got our record released. Meanwhile, I was pursuing other work as a composer. My first paid job was writing electronic music soundtracks for a pest control company who made their own corporate promo and training films. I used the music from these (and other demos) to send off to the producer of Doctor Who, in a search for work. After a couple of attempts, these proved successful, and I was offered work as a freelance composer for Doctor Who.
Can you compare what equipment was essential to you towards the beginning of your career with what equipment is essential to you now?
In the early days reel-to-reel tape was essential, together with associated tape splicing facilities. I was using analogue synthesizers to begin with, and gradually as MIDI became more universal, I began using a Yamaha sequencer. It was several years into my career before I began using my first computer (an Atari 1040 running Emagic Creator software).
Today, the computer is very much the heart of the recording studio. Not only is it essential for the sequencing element, it is now the main sound-making equipment in the studio. Almost all the sounds I create now come from within the computer - from onboard virtual instruments or samples, or at the very least treating and shaping sounds from external inputs.
What was it like making electronic music twenty years ago, and how does it compare to making electronic music now?
For me, the major difference comes from the use of computer sequencing. In the early days I was playing everything in by hand and recording to tape. This helped to give me reasonable timing and accuracy as a player (although I’m not a classically trained musician). Today it is possible to rely on the computer to correct sloppy playing (!), but this in turn has freed me up to do things that just wouldn’t have been possible in the tape/playing by hand setup. The possibilities in production are now way beyond what they would have been in the mid 80s.
What have been the most significant developments in the field of electronic music since you began your career?
Definitely MIDI - which has completely revolutionized electronic music. It’s not all good news though - the ubiquitousness of MIDI means that electronic music is no longer a revolutionary sound! When Delia Derbyshire created the original Doctor Who theme in 1963, she was pioneering techniques that meant she was creating sounds no one had ever heard before. Today, it is much easier to make electronic music, but much harder to sound fresh and original.
More recently the computer has been the second revolutionary development. As processing power has increased, it has become possible to have a complete almost unlimited-track recording studio, with instruments, effect processing and ability to publish the music to CD or direct to the potential audience via the internet.