Electronic music pioneer Jon Appleton dies at 83 – Billboard

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A composer, teacher and pioneer of electronic and electroacoustic music, who contributed to the development of the Synclavier, one of the first digital synthesizers, has died.

Jon Appleton died Jan. 30 in White River Junction, Vermont, at the age of 83, his son JJ Appleton announced Wednesday.

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Appleton, who was born in Los Angeles, became a member of the faculty at Dartmouth College in 1967 and developed one of the nation’s first electronic music programs and studios.

“It was truly a pioneering vision on his part to create an electronic music center in Dartmouth and it propelled Dartmouth very quickly to the forefront of electronic and electro-acoustic music work,” said his colleague and friend. Theodore Levin, Arthur R. Virgin music teacher at Dartmouth.

While he was a musical visionary and one of the pioneers of electronic and electro-acoustic music, he “wasn’t a geek or a gearhead…turning knobs and moving sliders to make sounds weird”, contrary to stereotypes, especially in the beginning. years, Levin said.

“He couldn’t have been further from that. He was a kind of musical romantic at heart,” he said.

Appleton’s interest in electronic music was on the side of electro-acoustics, “as a way to expand the expressive possibilities and potential of acoustic musical instruments and the human voice,” Levin said.

“I think he viewed his electronic music as a kind of folk music of our time,” he said.

The Synclavier, developed in 1975 by Appleton, Dartmouth Thayer School of Engineering research professor Sydney Alonso and student Cameron Jones, became the music industry‘s Rolls Royce, selling for between $75,000 and $500,000. $, and used by Sting, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, and many other musicians, according to Dartmouth Engineer Magazine.

At Dartmouth, Appleton was Arthur R. Virgin Emeritus Professor of Music and Ted and Helen Geisel Emeritus Professor of Humanities. He was also a visiting professor at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan; the University of California, Santa Cruz; the Moscow Conservatory in Russia and the University of Hawaii.

He was loved by many of his students, said JJ Appleton.

“He was a composer, very accomplished, but he was also a very accomplished teacher and a mentor to a lot of people,” he said.

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