Maestro of the Machine Age, RAYMOND SCOTT (b. Harry Warnow, Sept. 10, 1908, Brooklyn; d. Feb. 8, 1994, Los Angeles) was a perfectionist bandleader and quirky composer in the 1930s and '40s who evolved into a high-tech musical guru in the '50s and '60s. His early works, particularly "Powerhouse" and "The Toy Trumpet," were immortalized in countless classic Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon soundtracks. A half-century later his novelties spiced episodes of The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy, Animaniacs, The Oblongs, and Duckman. The recordings of his 1937-39 six-man "Quintette" (depicted in the portrait) screamed animation—yet Scott never wrote a note for a cartoon in his life. He was creating what he termed "descriptive jazz," typified by such wild titles as "New Year's Eve in a Haunted House," "War Dance for Wooden Indians," and "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals."
But control-freak Scott never seemed satisfied with real musicians expressing his musical ideas, so he used the electronic parts catalog to build the perfect sideman. From the late 1940s on he worked extensively in electronic music as an instrument inventor, jingle composer, and experimentalist. Owner of dozens of US patents, Scott was hired by Berry Gordy in 1971 to head Motown's electronic research department. His pièce de résistance was the Electronium. A linguini-tangle of circuitry housed in a wooden cabinet, it was Beethoven-in-a-box—a device that would compose using artificial intelligence.
Looking beyond, Scott thought that instruments themselves were merely an evolutionary stage. Writing in 1949, he foresaw a day when "science will perfect a process of thought transference from composer to listener. The composer will sit onstage and merely THINK his idealized conception of music. His brain waves will be picked up by mechanical equipment and channeled directly into the minds of his hearers, thus allowing no distortion of the original idea. Instead of recordings of actual music sound, recordings will carry the brainwaves of the composer."
— Irwin Chusid