Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Moog, The Munich Machine and “I Feel Love”: A Transhumanism Leap?

Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Moog and “I Feel Love“: A Transhumanism Leap?

I Feel Love” is a song by Donna Summer, taken from her 1977 concept album I Remember Yesterday.

The song constituted the “future” segment of the album, which represented a stylistic progress through time. The title track of the I Remember Yesterday album represented the 1940s, “Love’s Unkind” the 1950s, “Back in Love Again” the 1960s and the album concluded with the futuristic “I Feel Love”. The song reached number one in the UK Singles Chart, number six on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and number nine on the Hot Soul Chart. It quickly became popular in gay dance clubs and was adopted as a gay anthem.[1] “I Feel Love” is ranked #418 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. “I Feel Love” was added to the National Recording Registry in 2012.[2]

Before “I Feel Love”, most disco recordings had been backed by acoustic orchestras[3] although all-electronic music had been produced for decades. Giorgio Moroder‘s innovative production of this disco-style song, recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track, spawned imitators in the disco genre, and was influential in the development of techno.[4]

According to David Bowie, then in the middle of recording of his Berlin Trilogy with Brian Eno, its impact on the genre’s direction was recognized early on:

One day in Berlin … Eno came running in and said, “I have heard the sound of the future.” … he puts on “I Feel Love,” by Donna Summer … He said, “This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.” Which was more or less right.”[5]

The album version lasts for almost six minutes. It was extended for release as a 12″ maxi-single, the eight-minute version included on the 1989 compilation The Dance Collection: A Compilation of Twelve Inch Singles. The song was slightly edited on the 7″ format, the fade-in opening sound reaching maximum volume sooner. A version which fades out at 3:45, before the third verse and final choruses, has been included on a large number of greatest hits packages and other compilations issued by PolyGram, Mercury Records, Universal Music and others, such as 1994’s Endless Summer: Greatest Hits and 2003’s The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer.

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “I Feel Love” #418 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The review for the song stated that Moroder and Summer “claimed tomorrow in the name of disco.”[6]

Following the track’s success, within months Summer and Moroder produced the 11-minute “Now I Need You”/”Working the Midnight Shift” sequence on Summer’s 1977 double album Once Upon a Time, which successfully builds on “I Feel Love”‘s pioneering ethereal vocals, mechanised beats, sequenced arpeggios and ostinato basslines.

From Justin:

Donna Summer stated that for this song, she had to act the role of a sadistic woman who turns down everyone (on the dance floor).

The song ushered in Transhumanism, while critics praised the hypnotic beats of the song for overcoming the coldness of techno/technotronic music.

Giorgio

Is this an honor, or a reminder to Giorgio of his place in the scheme of things?

Hansjörg “Giorgio” Moroder,[1][2] named on record sleeves often as only Giorgio (born 26 April 1940, Urtijëi, South Tyrol, Italy) is an Italian record producer, songwriter and performer of Ladin origin, based in Los Angeles. When in Munich in the 1970s, he started his own record label called Oasis Records, which several years later became a subdivision of Casablanca Records. He collaborated with Donna Summer during the era of disco (including “Love to Love You Baby” and “I Feel Love“) and is the founder of the former Musicland Studios in Munich, which was used as a recording studio by artists including the Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Elton John.

In addition to producing several hits with Donna Summer, Moroder also produced a number of electronic disco hits for The Three Degrees, two albums for Sparks, a handful of songs on Bonnie Tyler‘s album Bitterblue as well as her 1985 single “Here She Comes” and a score of songs for performers including David Bowie, Irene Cara, Madleen Kane, Melissa Manchester, Blondie, Japan, and France Joli.

Moog synthesizer (pronounced /ˈmɡ/ MOHG; often anglicized to /ˈmɡ/ MOOG, though Robert Moog preferred the former[2]) may refer to any number of analog synthesizers designed by Dr. Robert Moog or manufactured by Moog Music, and is commonly used as a generic term for older-generation analog music synthesizers. The Moog company pioneered the commercial manufacture of modular voltage-controlled analog synthesizer systems in the early 1950s. The technological development that led to the creation of the Moog synthesizer was the invention of the transistor, which enabled researchers like Moog to build electronic music systems that were considerably smaller, cheaper and far more reliable than earlier vacuum tube-based systems.

The Moog synthesizer gained wider attention in the music industry after it was demonstrated at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967. The commercial breakthrough of a Moog recording was made by Wendy Carlos in the 1968 record Switched-On Bach, which became one of the highest-selling classical music recordings of its era.[3] The success of Switched-On Bach sparked a slew of other synthesizer records in the late 1960s to mid-1970s.

Later Moog modular systems featured various improvements, such as a scaled-down, simplified, self-contained musical instrument designed for use in live performance…

Vocoder

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A vocoder (pron.:/ˈvkdər/, short for voice encoder) is an analysis/synthesis system, used to reproduce human speech. In the encoder, the input is passed through a multiband filter, each band is passed through an envelope follower, and the control signals from the envelope followers are communicated to the decoder. The decoder applies these (amplitude) control signals to corresponding filters in the synthesizer. Since the control signals change only slowly compared to the original speech waveform, the bandwidth required to transmit speech can be reduced. This allows more speech channels to share a radio circuit or submarine cable. By encoding the control signals, voice transmission can be secured against interception.

The vocoder was originally developed as a speech coder for telecommunications applications in the 1930s, the idea being to code speech for transmission. Transmitting the parameters of a speech model instead of a digitized representation of the speech waveform saves bandwidth in the communication channel; the parameters of the model change relatively slowly, compared to the changes in the speech waveform that they describe. Its primary use in this fashion is for secure radio communication, where voice has to be encrypted and then transmitted. The advantage of this method of “encryption” is that no “signal” is sent, but rather envelopes of the bandpass filters. The receiving unit needs to be set up in the same channel configuration to resynthesize a version of the original signal spectrum. The vocoder as both hardware and software has also been used extensively as an electronic musical instrument.

Whereas the vocoder analyzes speech, transforms it into electronically transmitted information, and recreates it, The Voder (from Voice Operating Demonstrator) generates synthesized speech by means of a console with fifteen touch-sensitive keys and a pedal, basically consisting of the “second half” of the vocoder, but with manual filter controls, needing a highly trained operator.[1][2]

Early 1970s vocoder, custom built for electronic music band Kraftwerk

Contents

Vocoder theory

The human voice consists of sounds generated by the opening and closing of the glottis by the vocal cords, which produces a periodic waveform with many harmonics. This basic sound is then filtered by the nose and throat (a complicated resonant piping system) to produce differences in harmonic content (formants) in a controlled way, creating the wide variety of sounds used in speech. There is another set of sounds, known as the unvoiced and plosive sounds, which are created or modified by the mouth in different fashions.

The vocoder examines speech by measuring how its spectral characteristics change over time. This results in a series of signals representing these modified frequencies at any particular time as the user speaks. In simple terms, the signal is split into a number of frequency bands (the larger this number, the more accurate the analysis) and the level of signal present at each frequency band gives the instantaneous representation of the spectral energy content. Thus, the vocoder dramatically reduces the amount of information needed to store speech, from a complete recording to a series of numbers. To recreate speech, the vocoder simply reverses the process, processing a broadband noise source by passing it through a stage that filters the frequency content based on the originally recorded series of numbers. Information about the instantaneous frequency (as distinct from spectral characteristic) of the original voice signal is discarded; it wasn’t important to preserve this for the purposes of the vocoder’s original use as an encryption aid, and it is this “dehumanizing” quality of the vocoding process that has made it useful in creating special voice effects in popular music and audio entertainment.

Since the vocoder process sends only the parameters of the vocal model over the communication link, instead of a point by point recreation of the waveform, it allows a significant reduction in the bandwidth required to transmit speech.

Analog vocoders typically analyze an incoming signal by splitting the signal into a number of tuned frequency bands or ranges. A modulator and carrier signal are sent through a series of these tuned band pass filters. In the example of a typical robot voice the modulator is a microphone and the carrier is noise or a sawtooth waveform. There are usually between 8 and 20 bands.

The amplitude of the modulator for each of the individual analysis bands generates a voltage that is used to control amplifiers for each of the corresponding carrier bands. The result is that frequency components of the modulating signal are mapped onto the carrier signal as discrete amplitude changes in each of the frequency bands.

Often there is an unvoiced band or sibilance channel. This is for frequencies outside of analysis bands for typical speech but still important in speech. Examples are words that start with the letters s, f, ch or any other sibilant sound. These can be mixed with the carrier output to increase clarity. The result is recognizable speech, although somewhat “mechanical” sounding. Vocoders also often include a second system for generating unvoiced sounds, using a noise generator instead of the fundamental frequency.

SIGSALY (1943–1946) speech encipherment system
HY-2 Vocoder (designed in 1961), was the last generation of channel vocoder in the US.[3]

The first experiments with a vocoder were conducted in 1928 by Bell Labs engineer Homer Dudley, who was granted a patent for it on March 21, 1939.[4]The Voder (Voice Operating Demonstrator), was introduced to the public at the AT&T building at the 1939–1940 New York World’s Fair.[2] The Voder consisted of a series of manually controlled oscillators, filters, and a noise source. The filters were controlled by a set of keys and a foot pedal to convert the hisses and tones into vowels, consonants, and inflections. This was a complex machine to operate, but with a skilled operator could produce recognizable speech.[2][media 1]

Dudley’s vocoder was used in the SIGSALY system, which was built by Bell Labs engineers in 1943. SIGSALY was used for encrypted high-level voice communications during World War II. Later work in this field has been conducted by James Flanagan.

Munich

Munich Machine

Munich Machine

Profile:
Disco project based in Munich, Germany lead by Giorgio Moroder. Other producers involved were Pete Bellotte, Stefan Wissnet, Günther Moll and others.
Members:
Variations:
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