Synthesizers: Sound of the Future now open

A relatively hidden and inspirational era of Australian music history has been unveiled with the opening of Synthesizers: Sound of the Future at the University of Melbourne’s Grainger Museum.

The super cool, interactive exhibition explores the fertile electronic scene in Melbourne from 1969-1974 and, more broadly, the evolution of the commercially produced synthesizer by EMS (Electronic Music Studios Ltd.).

The Grainger Museum was at the heart of musical experimentation in Melbourne in the late 1960s, when composer and teacher Keith Humble returned from Paris brimming with avant-garde ideas to establish a renegade composition studio at the Grainger using early synthesizers.

Synthesizers is a collaboration between the Grainger and Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio (MESS) – one of the most historically significant collections of electronic instruments in the world, the brainchild of Byron Scullin and Robin Fox.

The exhibition features key instruments on loan from MESS and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, including the ultra rare EMS VCS-1 – one of three in the world – an EMS VCS-3 – used by Pink Floyd, Brian Eno and Jean-Michel Jarre – an EMS Spectre video synth and the cutting edge video art it produced (including electronic artist David Chesworth’s tongue-in-cheek 50 Synthesizer Greats).

Over the next few months there are a suite of free events on offer in the public program, including From under the bed and down from the attic: Synthesizers reclaimed on Sunday 17th June, 12-1pm with Dr Robin Fox, Frozen Improvisations: Exploring Keith Humble at the Grainger in the 1960s with Ensemble Density on Sunday 29th July, 2-5pm, and Stranger Things: Synthesizer Soundtracks in Film and TV on Wednesday 15th August, 12-1pm.

For those who can’t get down to the Grainger, or people outside of Melbourne, Synthesizers: Sound of the Future is also available online.

Synthesizers: Sound of the Future

Grainger Museum 20 April – 9 Sep 2018