Caption: Director Dianna Dilworth
Director Dianna Dilworth 

Mellodrama: the Signature Sound of Progressive Rock

From: John Diliberto
Series: Echo Location: Soundings for New Music
Length: 03:30

The Mellotron was the sound of progressive rock and space music in the 1970s. Before digital synthesizers, it was an instrument that played back the sounds of orchestras, choirs, and more to generate the grandeur of The Moody Blues, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson and more. Dianna Dilworth has chronicled the birth of the Mellotron, going back to the late 1940s and the Chamberlin keyboard as well as its current revival. We talk to her about these instruments and their epic journey. Read the full description.

Dilworthdianna_small

The Mellotron was the sound of progressive rock and space music in the 1970s. Before digital synthesizers, it was an instrument that played back the sounds of orchestras, choirs, and more to generate the grandeur of The Moody Blues, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson and more. Dianna Dilworth has chronicled the birth of the Mellotron, going back to the late 1940s and the Chamberlin keyboard as well as its current revival. We talk to her about these instruments and their epic journey.

It's part of Echo Location: Soundings for New Music, the weekly digest from Echoes host and Peabody Award winning producer John Diliberto, exploring the latest in modern music with quick hitting interviews, music and commentary. Each edition of Echo Location features a beautifully edited music blend, that's combined with John's thoughtful insights and artists's comments to make a sound-rich journey for listeners. Each episode can stand on its own or be scheduled as a weekly or occasional series.

To hear the full audio, sign up for a free PRX account or log in.

Also in the Echo Location: Soundings for New Music series

Piece image

Kevin Keller's Ambient Chamber Music (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

Ambient chamber music composer Kevin Keller's In Absentia is a study in finely calibrated emotions dealing with the disappearance and likely death of his father-in-law. ...
Piece image

Hammock: Chasing After Shadows...Living With the Ghosts (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

Hammock is Nashville-based guitarists Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson. They've made their money writing country and Christian music but their hearts reside in the shoegaze ...
Piece image

International Guitar Night: Four virtuosos from Germany, Israel and America talk about a converge... (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

There are some guitarists for whom one insturment isan't enough. Brian Gore is one of them. For the past decade, he’s been realizing his ambition of a global guitar ...
Caption: The Mediaeval Baebes, Credit: Hayley Madden

Mediaeval Baebes (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

The allure is undeniable. Six talented, attractive women breathe renewed life into the rich texts of medieval songs and poetry with their hauntingly beautiful musical ...
Piece image

An exotic forest of sensual grooves, ambient atmospheres and intoxicating melodies (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

Ylang ylang is a flowering tree that grows in South Asia, and on his album, Ylang, Robert Rich has sculpted another exotic forest of sound, full of sensual grooves, ambient ...
Piece image

Jon Hopkins's Quaint Electronica (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

You may not know Jon Hopkins, but you’ve heard him on albums by Coldplay, Massive Attack, Imogen Heap and Brian Eno. On Coldplay’s Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, ...
Piece image

Violinist Anna Schaad's Dream Within a Dream (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

Violinist Anna Schaad’s music is steeped in fantasy and inspired by her Navy pilot husband. Though heavily Celtic influenced, she takes an electronica turn on her album ...
Caption: Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve of Arc, Credit: Kimberly Haas

English electronic duo plugs in with vintage synthesizers and heads into space (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

English electronic musicians Mark Shreeve and Ian Boddy perform in a pair of cockpits of keyboards and gear. They specialize in a sound that has roots in German space music ...
Caption: Kronos Quartet, Credit: Michael Wilson

Kronos Quartet: Four Decades of Breaking the String Quartet Rules (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

In the world of string quartets there is before and after Kronos, the ensemble that revolutionized the form, playing new music from Steve Reich to Sigur Ros. We talk with ...
Piece image

Ludovico Einaudi's Nightbook (03:30)
From: John Diliberto

Pianist Ludovico Einaudi is a different kind of classical composer. He's a student of the avant-garde and the rich classical tradition of his native Italy, but he’s also a ...

Piece Description

The Mellotron was the sound of progressive rock and space music in the 1970s. Before digital synthesizers, it was an instrument that played back the sounds of orchestras, choirs, and more to generate the grandeur of The Moody Blues, Tangerine Dream, King Crimson and more. Dianna Dilworth has chronicled the birth of the Mellotron, going back to the late 1940s and the Chamberlin keyboard as well as its current revival. We talk to her about these instruments and their epic journey.

It's part of Echo Location: Soundings for New Music, the weekly digest from Echoes host and Peabody Award winning producer John Diliberto, exploring the latest in modern music with quick hitting interviews, music and commentary. Each edition of Echo Location features a beautifully edited music blend, that's combined with John's thoughtful insights and artists's comments to make a sound-rich journey for listeners. Each episode can stand on its own or be scheduled as a weekly or occasional series.

1 Comment Atom Feed

User image

top shelf stuff

very well-crafted & mighty informative.

Broadcast History

WXPN, Philadelphia and WITF, Harrisburg

Transcript

Music: Mysterious Semblance at the Strands of Nightmare
:14
SOMETIMES JUST THE SOUND OF AN INSTRUMENT CAN HAVE A PROFOUND EFFECT. MARK SHREEVE IS A NOTED ENGLISH SPACE MUSIC COMPOSER. HE REMEMBERS LYING IN BED IN 1974, WHEN HE TUNED INTO THE BBC AND HEARD THE MELLOTRON ON TANGERINE DREAMS ALBUM, "PHAEDRA."

:18
Mark shreeve: I switched on the radio, I laid back onto the pillow, my head started to spin, and these mellotron chords started to wash over me. Almost instantly I thought, this is possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I have never, ever heard anything like this.

Musik "Mysterious Semblance at the Strands of Nightmare"
:15
THE MELLOTRON WAS THE SOUND OF PROGRESSIVE ROCK, BUT EVEN IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW YOUR GENESIS FROM YOUR GENTLE GIANT, YOU'VE HEARD THE INSTRUMENT. WHEN DIRECTOR DIANNA DILWORTH IS EXPLAINING HER MELLOTRON DOCUMENTARY, ME...
Read the full transcript

Timing and Cues

incue: SOMETIMES JUST THE SOUND OF AN INSTRUMENT CAN HAVE A PROFOUND EFFECT.

Outcue: I’m John Diliberto and this has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Mysterious Semblance at the Strands of Nightmare Tangerine Dream Phaedra. 1974 :15
Strawberry Fields Forever The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. :10
In the Court of the Crimson King King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King. :10
Tuesday Afternoon The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed . 1967 :05