Home Up Terre Inconnue New Visions for Farfisa

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                photograph by Helen MacKinlay                   January 1987 issue

In the mid-1980s, after his Roots of Madness days,  Geoff Alexander wrote and recorded several avant-garde compositions for the Farfisa VIP 500 electronic organ.  They appeared on two cassette albums, Canódromo, and San José Confidential, along with compositions written for other instruments.  The organ pieces, New Visions for Farfisa Organ, were originally released  on CD, and will soon be available for listening on the internet.  'Terre Inconnue', a piece which appears on the CD, has extensive notes regarding its playing and composition, which, due to their length, are not printed on the CD.  Geoff's performances on the Farfisa were noted in the January, 1987 Keyboard magazine special issue dedicated to Experimental Music, which also included pieces on John Cage, Conlon Nancarrow, and Sun Ra.  From that issue, Bob Doerschuk, in "Unchained Minds" noted:

On the other end of the techno scale, we have people like Geoff Alexander, whose chosen instrument is the long-defunct Farfisa VIP-500. Alexander gives performances around California's Silicon Valley, America's high-tech hotbed, entirely on this artifact; his squealing, dissonant Farfisa improvisations leave the die-hard digital synthesists in the audience shaking their heads in wonder.

"I play a musical anachronism," he admits. "You can do so much more with, say, a [Yamaha] DX7. So why do I play this? Well, it's got a personality. 1 like the sound. The problem with instruments like the DX7 is that they've opened up so many possibilities that people are losing a certain amount of musicality in exchange for new gimmicks. With the increasing emphasis on technology in music, people sometimes say, 'I want to get the newest gadget. Meanwhile, I'll throw out this old piece of trash.' Literally! I picked up my Farfisa in a junk store; it was covered with dust. But I learned to appreciate the beauty of this really strange instrument. In ten years, when the history of music is written, it will be divided into two volumes: pre- and post-electric organ."

Another perspective on Alexander's point is that experimental musicians are just as capable of under-utilizing the available technology as the normal folks you hear in copy bands across America.

Find out more about the 'New Visions for Farfisa Organ'

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