February 6 – Roger Miller, E-mu Emulator, Brave New Waves


After a decade of instant success (as he joked), Texan singer, songwriter Roger Miller hits the charts with King of the Road.

The funny song about being broke reaches US#4 (country #1 for a week in May) UK#1. And it garners a 1965 Grammy.

In April, 1985 the Broadway musical Big River opens in the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. With a book based on Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Miller’s music and lyrics, it sees over 1000 performances. It wins the 1985 Tony Award for Best Musical. River in the Rain 

Miller wins over a dozen Grammys. In 1995 he’s inducted into the Country Hall of Fame. Not too bad for a boy with a high-school education. ▷NSHOF bio▹

 Digital sampling for almost all 

A prototype of the disk-based, 8-bit E-mu Emulator digital sampler is shown at the Winter NAMM show, where it blows Stevie Wonder‘s mind.

While it’s not the first for-sale sampler, the Emu (released in 1982) is priced ($8000) within reach of more musicians. In 1984 Emu releases the Emulator-II model (8-bit, 27.7kHz), purchased by dozens of ‘name’ bands.

Sampling is a fairly simple operation. Variations in an analog input signal (from a microphone, for example) are converted into numbers (with values from 0 to 255 in the case of an 8-bit sampler). These values are sampled at a sufficient rate (e.g. 27,700 times a second) to produce adequate fidelity, producing a string of numbers which are stored. ‘Playing’ the sample means converting the stored numbers back into an analog signal. At the time, the memory to store 1 second of samples cost the consumer $400!!

The first sampler-for-sale was Harry Mendell’s 1976 12-bit, 22kHz monophonic Computer Music Melodian. Wonder used the Mendell system extensively in his Oct. 1979 album Journey through the Secret Life of Plants.
 Visser synth gallery

See also: Chamberlin (1949)(*), Mellotron (1963), EMS Musys (1969), Fairlight CMI (1979)

First broadcast of CBC radio’s (Montreal studios) ‘new underground music’ show Brave New Waves.(*)Originally hosted by Brent Bambury (followed by Patti Schmidt in ’95), the weekly, 4-hour show of ‘cutting-edge music, much of it electronic’ ends after 23 years on Mar. 16, 2007.

Every single weeknight of high school, I’d be glued to my radio, trying to keep up with the threads that connected the wildly diverse BNW playlist. I taped profiles of Dead Kennedys, Jonathan Richman and Public Enemy that revolutionized the way I thought… (*)

In 2010 the show receives a Trailblazer Award from Hour magazine.

▷BNW playlist archive ▹ ▷Canadian Electronic Music Timeline ▹ ▷Factbites post-mortem ▹ ▷MeFi post-mortem ▹ BNW on Youtube