My Early Experimental Music (1984-1989)

Excerpts from Five Works

As a music student in the 1980s, I recorded a few experimental music compositions. I recovered them from twenty-year-old cassette tapes, took excerpts from five pieces and created a video compilation. The first excerpt is from a work that was recorded at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. The other songs were recorded at Carleton University in Ottawa. Although I enjoyed experimenting with different timbres and textures, I still kept some pop or classical elements in many of the songs.

The video clips are processed (using After Effects) screen captures (using CamStudio) of music visualizations (using the iTunes and Dr. Glitter visualizers).

Track 1. Blade (Full Version)

Blade (

Blade, features drums, synthesizer (Yahama DX-7), alto saxophone, voices, a bicycle pump, coins, pieces of wood, water and probably a few things I have forgotten about. It is primarily a improvised piece and I had a lot of help from classmates recording all the different parts (I played saxophone). It was recorded on a 4-track reel-to-reel tape deck.

Yamaha DX-7

Track 2. Young Sycamore (Full Version)

Young Sycamore (

Young Sycamore has a live vocal and percussion part that wasn’t recorded, but was performed during a concert. The lyrics were adapted a poem by Wlliam Carlos Williams ( The piece was written/played using the software ‘PC Composer’ and a midi controller. The first half of the song was composed according to the serialist tradition: with a sequence of all twelve notes in the octave repeating. The live part featured several live performers chanting parts of the poem in the first section, an opera singer performing part of the poem in the second section and percussionists in the third section.

Track 3. Untitled (Full Version)

Untitled (

Untitled features an EMS Synthi 100, a very early synthesizer from the early 70s. It takes up half of small room and is interesting to use because you have to physically connect all the different sound items like sine waves, noise and filters. According to Wikipedia, only about 30 of these synthesizers were produced and their original selling price was 25,000 USD (the equivalent of over $100,000 USD today). If I had known it was so rare and expensive, maybe I would have appreciated it more back then. One of the reasons the video gets a fair number if views is simply because it features this strange instrument. The arpeggios and background sounds are from a Korg Poly61 synthesizer. The producer and composer was Heather Baird, but I did a lot of the actual recording.

EMS Synthi 100
EMS Synthi 100

Track 4. String Quartet No. 2 (Full Version)

String Quartet No. 2 (

For Sting Quartet No. 2, all the notes were typed into a computer (using the PC Composer programme) and then played back through a midi controller before being recorded on a reel-to-reel tape deck. Originally the piece was written for a string quartet, but I changed some parts when creating this electronic version.

Track 5. Mammals I Have Known and Loved (Full Version)

Mammals I Have Known and Loved (

Mammals I Have Known and Loved features the EMI Synthi 100, a tam tam (a kind of gong, but this time played with a violin bow), alto saxophone, empty pop bottles, voices, loops made of sound effects and laughter. The voices mainly came from outtakes of interviews I had been recording.

Well, I hope you enjoy the pieces, weird as they may be. 

~by longzijun

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2 thoughts on “My Early Experimental Music (1984-1989)

    • Thanks. I’ve always been pop-oriented. Most of the songs in that video are a combination of the experimental music styles I was learning about at school and the pop-electronica I was listening to at home.

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