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Charles Dodge



Charles Dodge received recognition early in his career for his orchestral and chamber music. He went on to become one of the first composers to realize the immense potential of the computer for broadening the scope of musical composition. He was experimenting with the digital synthesis of sound as early as the late 1960s, splitting his time between between Princeton University, Columbia University, and Bell Labs. He completed Speech Songs in 1972, making a mark on the new music world with his charming and humorous use of synthetic speech. The work, created in the early days of computer voice synthesis at Bell Telephone Laboratories, paved the way for everyone from Kraftwerk to Add N to (X), and is considered a computer music classic. Ingram Marshall writes of Dodge's music, "The wit is always subtle, and there is a cool clarity in his expressive use of computer timbres and intervals which often give a chilling edge. There is never a surfeit in the music, yet one could hardly call him a Minimalist, nor, for that matter, any other label such as New Romantic, Serialist or Cagein Aleatoricist! Happily he avoids pigeonholing, yet his music has a recognizable quality that identifies him readily enough."

These songs are taken from New Albion's Any Resemblance Is Purely Coincidental, a collection of Dodge's work previously unavailable on CD. "A Man Sitting in the Cafeteria" demonstrates the quirky and humorous nature of Speech Songs. While the song may seem dated by today's standards, it still has a certain edge. "The Waves" is a longer work that uses both the soprano voice of Joan La Barbara and synthesized and enhanced sounds to a subtle and creepy effect. This track would not be out of place among the work of more contemporary artists like Scanner, Pauline Oliveros, and Laurie Anderson.