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Tod Dockstader dies aged 82

Electronic composer and musique concrète pioneer has died

Electronic composer and musique concrète pioneer Tod Dockstader has died, aged 82. Dockstader studied psychology and art at the University of Minnesota, going on to study painting and film as a graduate student. He relocated to Hollywood in the mid-1950s, initially working as an apprentice film editor. He moved again to New York, where he taught himself sound engineering and landed an apprenticeship at Gotham Recording Studios. It was here that he collected the sounds he later used for Eight Electronic Pieces (1960), one of which was used in Frederico Fellini’s Satyricon (1969).

Dockstader went on to create a number of important tape works including Apocalypse (1961) and Quatermass (1964). Though his 1960s work for the Folkways and Owl labels gained modest acclaim, Dockstader lacked the academic credentials that would have given him access to establishments such as the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, from which he was rejected twice. He moved into making audiovisual work for schools and in the late 1970s and early 1980s recorded two volumes of electronic library music for Boosey & Hawkes, which were reissued in 2012 and 2013 by Mordant Music. A CD reissue campaign initiated by the Starkland label in the early 1990s caused a resurgence of interest in Dockstader’s music, and he returned to making music at the turn of the 21st century, using computer technology instead of tape. Dockstader died in Arlington, Massachusetts.