Raymond Scott Biography

Harry Warnow, 10 September 1908, Brooklyn, New York, USA, d. 8 February 1994, North Hills, California, USA. After extensive studies, Scott became popular on radio as pianist, composer and leader of a small band. Playing mostly dance music and popular songs of the day, plus a smattering of novelty numbers, many of which were his own compositions, his radio exposure had made him one of the best-known names in the USA by the end of the 30s. Although most of his radio work had been with a polished sextet, he decided to exploit his popularity by forming a big band. After some limited touring he was persuaded back into the studios, where he formed one of the first mixed-race bands to be heard regularly on American radio. Several hundred of his tunes, including the perennial ‘Powerhouse’, were licensed to Warner Bros. in 1943, ensuring that his music became indelibly linked to the golden age of cartoons, providing the background to the antics of immortal characters such as Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck. From the mid-40s onwards he worked in many areas of music; arranging, composing and directing orchestras on radio and television, and running recording companies. For several years in the 50s, he led the orchestra on NBC’s Your Hit Parade.

From the mid-40s onwards Scott had become increasingly involved in the pioneering of electronic music. Setting up his state of the art Manhattan Research studio, the intensely secretive Scott invented electronic musical instruments such as the Karloff, the Electronium, the Clavivox, the Circle Machine, and the Videola. Scott’s use of sequencers and electronic oscillators to produce sounds is an often unacknowledged influence on the work of pioneering minimalist and ambient composers such as Philip Glass and Brian Eno. In the 70s Scott worked as the head of electronic research and development for Motown Records before retiring to California. His work is commemorated in the superb Manhattan Research Inc. compilation, which includes a 144-page hardcover book.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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