The pioneering women of electronic music – an interactive timeline

The pioneering women of electronic music - an interactive timeline




Starting with Ada Lovelace and finishing with The ADA project, we’ve charted the visionary women whose experimentations with machines have defined and redefined the boundaries of the music.

Scroll and click through to explore our interactive timeline above. To accompany the timeline we’ve picked out a few records to get you started from across the eras by way of an introduction. Some of the music was barely released commercially at the time it was made and is therefore best heard on retrospective compilations.

Recommended listening:

Clara Rockmore – Clara Rockmore’s Lost Theremin Album (Bridge Records, 2006) Buy
Louis & Bebe Barron – Forbidden Planet (Planet Records, 1976) Buy
Else Marie Pade – Et Glasperlespi (Decapo Records, 2001) Buy
Daphne Oram – Oramics (Paradigm Records, 2007) Buy
Delia Derbyshire – The Delian Mode (Silva Screen, 2014) Buy
Pauline Oliveros – Accordion & Voice (Lovely Music, 1082) Buy
Wendy Carlos – Switched On Bach (Columbia, 1968) Buy
Annette Peacock – I’m The One (RCA Victor, 1972) Buy
Suzanne Ciani – Seven Waves (Finnadar records, 1982) Buy
Various Artists – New Music For Electronic & Recorded Media (1750 Arch Records, 1977) Buy
Laurie Spiegel – The Expanding Universe (Filo, 1980) Buy
Laurie Anderson – Big Science (Warner Bros, 1982) Buy
Björk – Biophilia (One Little Indian, 2011) Buy

As complimentary reading to the timeline, we asked German techno queen and Ada Lovelace devotee Ada to pick her 10 favourite techno records from a wealth of female producers. Click HERE to read in full.

More from Machine Music Week:

Watch our short film on the first ever computer music compilation Cybernetic Serendipity Music

Listen to a Conrad Shawcross podcast on music and machines for his dancing robot installation The Ada Project

It’s a woman’s world: Ada’s top 10 techno records

Listen to the sound of the internet

Computer World: Why Cybernetic Serendipity Music is the most important and neglected compilation in electronic music

The synth that made the music: 10 artists whose sound was defined by the EMS VCS3

Comments (7)

  1. Chloe Annalisse Stamper 4 years ago

    You’re missing A LOT of people here. As much as I love seeing the work of women in music technology get recognition, posts like this often highlight the same few individuals, which makes it seem that those few individuals were the only pioneers and innovators in music technology (not true). I’m currently writing my thesis on female identified electronic instrument designers/ how to create inclusive music technology spaces, and I see this happening a lot.

  2. David Irons 4 years ago

    Politics everywhere. Why can’t this just be about music in a historical view. NOOOOoooo.

  3. The Vinyl Factory 4 years ago

    Hi Chloe, As ever with these things it’s about striking a balance between the most important and well known and those who are often overlooked. We’d love to hear who you would have included.

  4. Alessandro Arcuri 4 years ago

    Come on! No mention AT ALL of Teresa Rampazzi? A true pioneer in electronic music, here in Italy?

    What a pity…

  5. BKrause 4 years ago

    I raised that same question at a 1989 forum on avant garde music held at Skywalker Ranch (LucasFilm) with panels led by Cage, Klaus Schöning (WDR), and others. Several hundred people were in the audience. I also asked whether folks outside of the tightly-controlled white communities of the “civilized” academic Western world were producing music that might be equally or more interesting to what was being produced and lauded in Köln, Berlin, Paris or NY. Cage’s response to my question was: “That’s insidious!.” To add insult to injury, instead of an experimental electronic piece I had prepared, I played, instead, a short rap clip made up entirely of animal sound samples. Cage’s response to that was: “And now you’re doing violence to animals,” to which I jumped off the stage, walked over to where he was sitting on the aisle, asked him to show me his shoes which turned out to be leather. “No animal ever died for my work, John,” a comment that immediately divided the audience. (Later, he came up and gave me a kiss on the cheek.) Go figure.

  6. ronald33 3 years ago

    Don’t forget BEBE BARRON…..electronic music for “FORBIDDEN PLANET”.

  7. Trond Lossius 1 year ago

    I would suggest to add e.g. Hildegard Westerkamp, Jana Winderen, Natasha Barrett, Jessica Rylan and Maryanne Amacher just to name a few.

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