Thomas Dolby Essay Research Paper Overview

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Thomas Dolby Essay, Research Paper Overview In the early 1980s, Thomas Dolby’s driving techno-pop rhythms helped define the musical zeitgeist of an era. Achieving global fame with his 1983 hit "She Blinded Me with Science," Dolby personified the eccentric fringe energy of rock music’s New Wave. An adept and innovative video producer, Dolby’s efforts for MTV helped established the look and format of the burgeoning medium. Likewise, his multimedia stage shows created the template for a generation of new performers. By 1984 it seemed that Thomas Dolby was poised to shape the dominant sound of the decade. Yet just as suddenly as he stormed onto the charts, Dolby withdrew. By stepping out of the pop limelight he could, as he put it, "stretch out

musically." Far from vanishing into obscurity, Dolby worked as a producer for artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, George Clinton, and Little Richard. He composed movie soundtracks and lent his talents as a keyboard player to efforts by rock legends like David Bowie and Roger Waters. After a decade of innovative musical and video production, sound system design, and inspired electronic tinkering, it was inevitable that Dolby would meld his talents in a unique creative endeavor. In 1992 he founded Headspace, a multi-media company that produces interactive music scores for video games, feature film soundtracks, and audio systems for theme parks. Jazz at Half Speed: Beginnings Born to English parents in Cairo, Egypt in 1958, Thomas Dolby Robertson grew up in transit. His

father, an archaeologist specializing in Greek and Etruscan pottery, kept Dolby and his five older siblings trotting the globe. Dolby recalls "a dreamlike childhood skipping from one place to another." Though his mother was a teacher – or perhaps because of it – Dolby despaired of study. His happiest hours were spent listening to jazz recordings by Dave Brubeck, Thelonious Monk, and Oscar Peterson. He taught himself piano by slowing the tape player to half speed, and picking out the melodies by ear. Such primitive manipulation of sound sparked Dolby’s passion for electronics. His interest deepened through his teens. At fifteen his London classmates shortened his surname to Dolby, an honorarium to Thomas Dolby, inventor of the famous noise reduction system for

recording. Thomas’s fate was sealed. At 16 he dropped out of school to pursue a career as a rock musician. Paris Streets and London Punks Dolby worked part-time in a fruit and vegetable shop by day, and prowled London’s thriving punk scene at night. The clubs shook with the thrashing guitars and guttural vocals of bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash. There seemed to be little room for the more expansive, cerebral sounds that circuited Dolby’s imagination. The composer recalls that it wasn’t until he heard New Wave groups like the Talking Heads and XTC that he realized the possibilities for his kind of music. During this period, Dolby frequently trekked across the Channel, playing guitar on the streets of Paris and piano in London cocktail bars. "I felt it was an

important part of an artist’s life to struggle for a time in Paris," Dolby has said. Composing songs and trying them out before fickle street audiences gave him a sense of what worked and what didn’t. Meanwhile, Dolby honed his electronic skills by building synthesizers and sound systems of his own design. His first paying music job – sound technician for a touring Jamaican r-&-b band – was an education in spontaneity and on-the-spot innovation. His knowledge was soon in demand by British New Wave bands, notably the Members and The Fall. He traveled extensively with the groups, creating custom sound systems and experimenting with computer technology. In 1979 he began playing keyboards with Bruce Wooley and the Camera Club. Around this time Dolby rigged a PPG Wave