Electronic composer and musique concrète pioneer Tod Dockstader has died. Filmmaker Justin Brierly, who is currently working on documentary detailing the musician entitled Unlocking Dockstader, reported the news in a statement to the film’s Facebook page, as Tiny Mix Tapes points out. “He was at peace and we were listening to his music at the time,” Brierly said in a statement. He continued, “May your spirit and music always float among the radio waves you were so fond of.” Dockstader was 82 years old.
A native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Dockstader studied painting and film at the University of Minnesota before moving to Hollywood in 1955 as a film editor. In 1958, he became a sound engineer at Gotham Recording Studios in New York City. During off-hours, he began composing music, playing special attention to tape manipulation; this stylistic principle, through which samples and manipulated sounds are assembled to create electroacoustic soundscapes, later became known as “musique concrète”.
Dockstader’s most prolific output came during the sixties, beginning with 1961’s Eight Electronic Pieces (which was later used to soundtrack Federico Fellini’s classic Satyricon) and culminating with 1966’s album Quatermass. In the early aughts, he partnered with David Lee Myers for two albums, 2004’s Pond and 2005’s Bijou; his most recent full-length composition, 2005’s Aerial, arrived in three CD installments.