Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange

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Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange
Studio album by Wendy Carlos
Released 1972
Recorded 1971
Genre Electronic music
Label Columbia
Producer Rachel Elkind
Wendy Carlos chronology
A Clockwork Orange
(1972)
Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange
(1972)
Switched-On Bach II (1974)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]

Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange, first released in 1972, is an album of electronic music by Wendy Carlos. All the pieces in the collection were composed or performed for the film A Clockwork Orange (1971). Although Carlos worked closely with director Stanley Kubrick during production of the movie, much of her work was not used, or used only in abridged form. The official soundtrack album also omitted much of Carlos' work.

Under the original title Walter Carlos' Clockwork Orange (Carlos transitioned to female at about the same time) the album included full-length versions of the flagship piece "Timesteps", originally intended as a lead-in to a full realization of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for electronic instruments. Among the instruments used for the album was a spectrum follower, the prototype for the later vocoders used in electronic music. This device reproduced the overtone spectrum of an input sound and overlaid it on another sound, which for practical purposes meant that it could alter an instrumental sound and convert it to the sound of a human voice. Since the Ninth Symphony has a chorale section in the finale, Carlos felt it was an appropriate challenge for the new device.

According to the album notes, shortly after beginning Timesteps Carlos also began reading A Clockwork Orange, and noticed that the opening themes reflected the feeling of the first chapters of the book. Thereafter the piece developed, in Carlos' own words, into "an autonomous composition with an uncanny affinity for 'clockwork'", the last word being Carlos' way of referring to the book. When the film version was announced Carlos and producer Rachel Elkind made a demonstration recording for Kubrick, who became interested and invited them to meet him in London.

The final outcome was not entirely satisfying to Carlos in terms of total contribution to the film, but there remained the opportunity to present the music in a separate album, which led to this collection.

Album cover[edit]

The record label did not attempt to use images from the movie on the album cover. The image chosen was a surrealistic collage of objects and images representing ideas in the movie. These included a rifle, an image of Beethoven inside the numeral "9", various mechanical images including a clockwork mechanism superimposed on a sliced orange, dancers representing the classical themes, and so on. This again was not entirely to Carlos' and Elkind's liking.

For the CD re-release, an image parodying the film's own logo was created and used on the cover—depicting Beethoven holding out a glass of drugged milk through the film poster's iconic "A"-shaped image—with the original cover image on the back cover of the included booklet.

Track listing[edit]

Original release (LP)[2][edit]

  • Side 1
  1. Timesteps
  2. March from A Clockwork Orange, based on the choral movement of the Ninth Symphony by Beethoven.
  • Side 2
  1. Title Music from A Clockwork Orange, based on Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary by Henry Purcell.
  2. La Gazza Ladra (The Thieving Magpie), by Gioachino Rossini. Not actually commissioned for the movie, but inspired by the movie's use of the orchestral version.
  3. Theme from A Clockwork Orange (Beethoviana), the title theme reset in the style of Beethoven and played using flute-like tones.
  4. Ninth Symphony: Second Movement, an abridged electronic version of Beethoven's Scherzo.
  5. William Tell Overture (Abridged), by Gioachino Rossini.
  6. Country Lane, an original piece originally intended to be used in a scene where the protagonist, Alex, is taken into the country and beaten by police. It restates themes from other compositions and also quotes the well-known Dies Irae theme. The words of the Dies Irae ("Dies iræ Dies illa. Solvet sæclum in favilla.") are also used, rendered through the vocoder.

CD release (1998)[edit]

  1. Timesteps - 13:47 (full composition)
  2. March from A Clockwork Orange (Beethoven: Ninth Symphony: Fourth Movement, abridged) - 7:02
  3. Title Music from A Clockwork Orange (from Purcell's Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary) - 2:23
  4. La Gazza Ladra (Rossini's the Thieving Magpie, abridged) - 6:00
  5. Theme from A Clockwork Orange (Beethoviana) - 1:48
  6. Ninth Symphony: Second Movement (Scherzo) - 4:52
  7. William Tell Overture, abridged - 1:18
  8. Orange Minuet - 2:35 (outtake) for stage sequence, after Alex is brainwashed.
  9. Biblical Daydreams - 2:06 (outtake) to underscore battle images Alex fantasizes while reading the Old Testament in the prison library.
  10. Country Lane - 4:56 (enhanced version)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Columbia Records KC 31480, 1972

External links[edit]