Discovering Electronic Music (1983) by Bernard Wilets

Discovering Electronic Music is documentary short by filmmaker Bernard Wilets.


You won't find much about director Bernard Wilets on the internet. Besides a short IMDB bio and some other random tidbits, the trail is cold. In 1961, Bernard wrote and directed plays at the Long Beach Playhouse in Long Beach California. His most popular plays were "Aurelius" and "Reynard". He eventually began producing classroom films for the Film Associates of California in Santa Monica- which probably explains this piece to a certain extent, which comes off as very classroom-esque indeed if you ask me. In the foreword of an interview with Bernard, directed by Sharon K. Chaplock of the Academic Film Archive, Geoff Alexander says that Bernard modestly downplayed his contribution to Academic Film and nearly destroyed all of his records. So, it's very difficult to find any information on this documentary besides multiple YouTube uploads of the same footage.


Back then, the idea of synthesizers were pretty new. They seemed alien to a lot of musicians, so you can imagine what the average person probably thought of them. This documentary does a great job at portraying the wonderment of synthesizers within that time period. As for the documentary itself- I think the cinematography is great, the music is eerie and strange, I even like the font in the opening credits. I'm sure Bernard would have made a great feature.


The 22-minute documentary is an overview of analog synthesizer technology and digital sampling techniques. The video features F.R. Moore, Jean-Claude Risset (French composer and worker at Bell Labs), Rory Kaplan (whose worked in the music department for movies like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze), Douglas Leedy and Stephan Soomil.


synthhistory [at] gmail.com