Raymond Scott

New York, US
Artist / Band / Musician
Experimental / Jazz / Electronica
Sony / Columbia / Basta
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This official MySpace Music page is operated by JEFF E. WINNER of The RAYMOND SCOTT Archives, and RaymondScott.com.
Composer and inventor RAYMOND SCOTT was born in 1908 and, sadly, he died many years ago. but Raymond Scott
will always be remembered as the mad professor of famous "cartoon
music," and as an early pioneer of experimental music and inventor of
electronic instruments.

SCOTT's biography is one of the strangest of the 20th century. As a
pianist, bandleader, and composer, he created a bizarre form of
jazz-like music in the 1930s that was mined famously for the
soundtracks of numerous classic Warner Bros. cartoons starring BUGS
Also a pioneer in electronic music, RAYMOND SCOTT
designed and built his own synthesizers and sequencers, and even
crafted far-out "ambient" albums that became landmarks of minimalist
experimentation, pre-dating similar works from PHILIP GLASS and BRIAN
ENO by more than a decade.

Composer, bandleader and inventor RAYMOND SCOTT
was once among the unheralded pioneers of contemporary experimental
music, a figure whose genius and influence have seeped almost
subliminally into the mass cultural consciousness. As a visionary whose
name is largely unknown but whose music is immediately recognizable, Scott's
was a career stuffed with contradictions: though his early work
anticipated the breathless invention of bebop, his obsession with
perfectionism and memorization was the very antithesis of jazz's
improvisational ethos; though his best-known compositions remain at
large thanks to their endless recycling as soundtracks for cartoons, he
never once wrote a note expressly for animated use; and though his
later experiments with electronic music pioneered the ambient
aesthetic, the ambient concept itself was not introduced until a decade
after the release of his original recordings.

Harry Warnow in Brooklyn on September 10, 1908, he was a musical
prodigy, playing piano by the age of two; following high school, he
planned to study engineering, but his older brother Mark -- himself a
successful violinist and conductor -- had other ideas, buying his
sibling a Steinway Grand and persuading him to attend the Institute of
Musical Art, later rechristened the Juilliard School. After graduating
in 1931, Scott
-- the name supposedly picked at random out of the Manhattan phone book
-- signed on as a staff pianist with the CBS radio network house band
conducted by his brother; finding the repertoire dull and uninspired,
he began presenting his own compositions to his bandmates, and soon
bizarre Scott originals like "Confusion Among a Fleet of Taxicabs Upon Meeting with a Fare" began creeping into broadcasts.

remained a member of the CBS band until 1936, at which time he
convinced producer Herb Rosenthal to allow him the chance to form his
own group; assembling a line-up originally comprised of fellow network
veterans Lou Shoobe on bass, Dave Harris on tenor saxophone, Pete
Pumiglio on clarinet, Johnny Williams on drums and the famed Bunny
Berigan on trumpet, he dubbed the group the Raymond Scott
Quintette, debuting on the Saturday Night Swing Session with the song
"The Toy Trumpet." The Quintette was an immediate hit with listeners,
and Scott was soon offered a recording contract with the Master label. Dissent quickly broke out in the group's ranks, however, as Scott's
obsessive practice schedule began to wear out his bandmates; Berigan
soon quit, frustrated because the airtight compositions -- never
written down, taught and developed one oddball phrase at a time --
allowed no room for improvisations. Still, for all of Scott's
eccentricities, his records flew off the shelves, their dadaist titles
("Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals," "Reckless Night on
Board an Oceanliner" and "Boy Scout in Switzerland"), juxtaposed
melodies, odd time signatures and quirky arrangements somehow
connecting with mainstream American audiences. Hollywood soon came
calling, with the Quintette performing music for (and sometimes
appearing in) features including Nothing Sacred, Ali Baba Goes to Town
and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Upon returning to New York, in 1938 Scott
was tapped to become CBS' next music director; around the same time he
expanded the Quintette to big-band size, and by 1940 quit his network
position to lead his ensemble on tour. He returned to CBS in 1942,
however, assembling the first racially-mixed studio orchestra in
broadcast history.

In 1941, Warner Bros.' fledgling animation department bought the rights to Scott's
back catalog, with music director Carl Stalling making liberal use of
the melodies in his groundbreaking cut-and-paste cartoon soundtracks;
Quintette favorites like the rollicking "Powerhouse" soon became
immediately recognizable for their regular appearances in classic Bugs
Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig clips, the same music supporting the
crazed antics of Ren & Stimpy and others half a century later.
Indeed, generations upon generations of young viewers have received an
unwitting introduction to avant-garde concepts through their repeated
exposure to Scott
and Stalling's music, although none of the former's compositions were
written with cartoons in mind; by the time Warner Bros. began using Scott's
music on a regular basis in 1943, he had already moved on to new
projects, including a lucrative career authoring commercial jingles. In 1945, Scott
wrote incidental music for the Broadway production, Beggars Are Coming To
Town; the year following, he teamed with lyricist Bernard Hanighen on
the musical Lute Song, which yielded another of his best known songs,
"Mountain High, Valley Low." Also in 1946, Scott
founded Manhattan Research, the world's first electronic music studio;
housing equipment including a Martenot, an Ondioline and a
specially-modified Hammond organ, it was advertised as "the world's
most extensive facility for the creation of Electronic Music and
Musique Concrete." After his brother Mark's 1949 death, Scott
took over his duties as the bandleader on the syndicated radio favorite
Your Hit Parade, with his second wife Dorothy Collins soon assuming the
position as the program's featured vocalist; that same year, he also
scored theatrical productions of Peep Show and Six Characters in Search
of an Author. Of all of Scott's
accomplishments of 1949, however, none was more important than the
Electronium, one of the first synthesizers ever created. An
"instantaneous composing machine," the Electronium generated original
music via random sequences of tones, rhythms, and timbres; Scott
himself denied it was a prototype synthesizer -- it had no keyboard --
but as one of the first machines to create music by means of artificial
intelligence, its importance in pointing the way towards the electonic
compositions of the future is undeniable. His other inventions included
the "Karloff," an early sampler capable of recreating sounds ranging
from sizzling steaks to jungle drums; the Clavivox, a keyboard
synthesizer complete with an electronic sub-assembly designed by a then
23-year-old Bob Moog; and the Videola, which fused together a keyboard and a TV screen to aid in composing music for films and other moving images.

In addition to hosting Your Hit Parade, Scott continued recording throughout the 1950s, issuing LPs including This Time with Strings, At Home with Dorothy and Raymond
and Rock and Roll Symphony. Additionally, he cranked out advertising
jingles at an astonishing rate, scored countless film and television
projects and even founded a pair of record labels, Audivox and Master,
while serving as A&R director for Everest Records. During the
mid-'50s, Scott
assembled a new Quintette; the 1962 edition of the group was its last.
The year following, he began work on the three-volume LP set Soothing
Sounds for Baby, an "aural toy" designed to create a comforting yet
stimulating environment for infants. As electronic music produced to
inspire and relax, the records fit snugly into the definition of
ambient suggested by Brian Eno a decade later, their minimalist
dreamscapes also predating Philip Glass and Terry Riley. By the middle of the 1950s, Scott
began turning increasingly away from recording and performing to focus
on writing and inventing, with his remaining years spent solely on
electronic composition. Among his innovations was an early programmable
polyphonic sequencer, which along with the Electronium later caught the
attention of Motown chief Berry Gordy Jr., who in 1971 tapped Scott
to head the label's electronic music research and development team.
After retiring six years later, he continued writing -- his last known
piece, 1986's "Beautiful Little Butterfly," was created on MIDI
technology. By 1992, Scott's
music was finally rediscovered by contemporary audiences, with the
Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights compilation appearing to great
acclaim; he died on February 8, 1994 at the age of 85 . . .

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