The Studio for Electronic Music (SEM) of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) a German public-broadcasting institution, is an important element in the development of electronic music. Founded in October 18, 1951, SEM was the first of its kind music facility, founded on the concept of mixing electronically synthesised sounds to introduce a new genre of music.
Principal Innovators of Electronic Music
The concept of establishing a studio for creating electronic music was the brainchild of three people: Werner Meyer-Eppler, Robert Beyer, and Herbert Eimert. who for years had developed and experimented on the technical requirements for creating electronic music.
Werner Meyer-Eppler (April 30,1913 – July 08, 1960) was a Belgian-born German physicist who held lectures at the Institute for Phonetics and Communication Research of Bonn University. He was also well-known for being an experimental acoustician, a phoneticist and information theorist. The development of the basic processes of electronic music, particularly the creation of musical compositions directly on magnetic tape, is attributed to Meyer-Eppler’s experiments at the Bonn Institute.
Herbert Eimert ( April 08,1897 – December 15, 1972) was a composer, radio producer, journalist, and musicologist, who had served as the first director of the Studio for Electronic Music. Since his youth, Elmert had a penchant for revolutionizing music by organizing concerts using noise instruments. During the 1920s he wrote a book that delved on the theory of atonal music, which unfortunately resulted from his expulsion from a composition class at the Cologne Musikhochschule.
Robert Beyer, a professional sound mixer had worked at the WDR at the time of founding, as a sound editor. He brainstorned the concept of electronic music with Eppler and Elmert, by bringing forward his ideas about timbre-oriented music.
Through the years of experimentations and development of instruments that made electronic music a new music genre, the studio became home to musicians, composers and artists coming from all over the world. They were welcome to use the latest equipment, albeit the technology at the time was limited to instruments for mixing usual soundtracks as a means of creating original compositions. Nonetheless, the instrument is still in wide use up to the present.
Artists used the Studio for Electronic Music to produce electronic music until its closure in 2000. In October 18, 2017 Google Doodle marked the importance of the studio in the history of music, by altering the Google logo to mark the studio’s 66th anniversary.