Robert Schneider

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Robert Schneider
Schneider performing at The Black Cat nightclub on October 20, 2006
Schneider performing at The Black Cat nightclub on October 20, 2006
Background information
Birth nameRobert Peter Schneider
Born (1971-03-09) March 9, 1971 (age 51)
Cape Town, South Africa
OriginRuston, Louisiana, United States
GenresIndie pop
Indie rock
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, producer, engineer, composer, guitarist
Years active1987-present
Associated actsThe Apples in Stereo
Neutral Milk Hotel
thee American Revolution
Air-sea Dolphin
Orchestre Fantastique
Robbert Bobbert
Sound of Ceres

Robert Peter Schneider, Ph.D (born March 9, 1971) is an American pop musician, music producer, and mathematician. He is the lead singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer of the Apples in Stereo and has produced albums by Neutral Milk Hotel, the Olivia Tremor Control and a number of other psychedelic and indie rock bands. Schneider co-founded The Elephant 6 Recording Company in 1991. He received a PhD in mathematics from Emory University in 2018. As of January 2021, Schneider is a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Georgia.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

After spending the first six years of his life in Cape Town, South Africa,[2][3] Robert Schneider's family moved to Ruston, Louisiana. In Louisiana, Schneider befriended Bill Doss, Will Cullen Hart and Jeff Mangum, and began discovering and playing music with them. After graduating from Ruston High School, where he was Junior and Senior class president,[citation needed] and spending two years at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, Schneider moved to Denver, Colorado to attend university. Although he subsequently left school to pursue his musical ambitions, his academic interests remained strong as an avid student of analytic number theory.

The Apples in Stereo and Elephant 6[edit]

Soon after moving to Denver, Colorado in 1991 Schneider met Hilarie Sidney, Jim McIntyre and Chris Parfitt, who formed the indie pop band the Apples (the name was subsequently changed to the Apples in Stereo). The group made their first release in 1993 with the Tidal Wave EP that became the inaugural release on the Elephant 6 record label.

Schneider's prowess in harnessing the sounds of Elephant 6 bands became apparent with his distinct production style. In addition to producing all of the albums for the Apples in Stereo, he's produced work for the Olivia Tremor Control, the Minders and a number of other artists, but is best known as a producer for his work on Neutral Milk Hotel's critically lauded In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The Wall of Sound production style implemented by his heroes Phil Spector and Brian Wilson was used on these records and cemented Schneider's reputation as the man behind the sound of many bands of the Elephant 6 label, which grew through the 1990s into a sprawling collective of psychedelic pop and experimental groups.

Solo work and other bands[edit]

Schneider has a number of solo projects. One, a project called Marbles, began with lo-fi Beach Boys-esque recordings done with Will Cullen Hart, and is the name most of Schneider's solo work appears under, beginning with the 1996 debut album "Pyramid Landing" and Other Favorites on spinART Records. Another project, Orchestre Fantastique, is an instrumental venture which recorded a soundtrack for the as-yet unreleased film Dean Quixote. Schneider also collaborated with Andy Partridge of XTC in the early 2000s, with the pair reportedly writing over thirty songs together by telephone; the project, however, produced no recorded results. Schneider also composed a number of jingles for television commercials during the 2000s, including a string of pop songs for the Kohl's department store chain.

Schneider formed a comparatively dark band in 2004 called Ulysses in Lexington, Kentucky, which released the 2005 album 010 on Eenie Meenie Records recorded live with a single microphone, and released a second Marbles album Expo in 2005 influenced by Electric Light Orchestra, as well as Gary Numan, Michael Jackson, New Order and the Cars.

During 2006, it was announced that Schneider was playing in a Kentucky-based psychedelic garage band with his brother-in-law, Craig Morris, called Thee American Revolution. Thee American Revolution released the lo-fi psych-pop album Buddha Electrostorm in 2009 on Garden Gate Records; the album was reissued worldwide on December 5, 2011, on UK label Fire Records.

Schneider occasionally records and performs children's music as Robbert Bobbert and released an album Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine under that name, and is in the process of developing an animated kids' television show based on it.[as of?]

Mathematics and experimental music[edit]

Schneider has engaged in a number of experimental music projects taking inspiration from mathematical concepts. He has written several compositions using a non-Pythagorean scale based on logarithms.[4][5][6] He has also incorporated prime numbers and the sieve of Eratosthenes in both a composition for Bell Tower and in the score for a play by mathematician Andrew Granville and playwright Jennifer Granville that debuted at the Institute for Advanced Study on December 12, 2009, and he has written a plan for an electronic composition based on prime numbers lasting millions of years.

Since September 2010, Schneider has performed using a mind-controlled analog synthesizer.[7] The mind-controlled synthesizer uses a voltage generator made from a circuit-bent Mattel MindFlex electronic toy, scored for one "conductor" wearing an EEG sensor. Schneider, along with experimental musician and visual artist Robert Beatty, use the voltage generator to control the filters of Moog synthesizers. Pieces performed with mind control include Schneider's "Composition for Two Hemispheres"[8] and a score by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. Other experimental musicians[who?] have subsequently built similar units from an instructional video Schneider released online.

In 2012, Schneider completed his Bachelor's degree (BS) in mathematics from the University of Kentucky.[1] That same year, he announced he was stopping touring; whether this hiatus is temporary or permanent is unclear. In 2018, Schneider completed a PhD in mathematics from Emory University, where he studied number theory under Ken Ono.[9][10] As of January 2021 he is a lecturer of mathematics at the University of Georgia.[1]

Non-Pythagorean scale[edit]

Approximate comparison of Non-Pythagorean pitches (red)Play  to 12-tone equal tempered pitches (blue)Play .[5] Note that, while the equal tempered pitches increase exponentially, the pitches found lower on the Non-Pythagorean scale have frequencies that are farther apart while pitches found higher on the scale are closer together.

Schneider conceived and developed a new non-Pythagorean scale with frequencies corresponding to the natural logarithms of successive whole numbers.[4][5][6]

The scale was introduced in 2007 with the release of New Magnetic Wonder, the sixth studio album by the Apples in Stereo. The album featured two brief compositions using the scale. Enhanced CD versions of the album included a third composition as well as a variety of information from Schneider concerning the scale including audio files and instructions to enable the listener to prepare a MIDI keyboard to play in the non-Pythagorean scale.

Performing discography[edit]

The Apples in Stereo[edit]


Major Organ and the Adding Machine[edit]

Orchestre Fantastique[edit]

  • Dean Quixote Soundtrack (2001)


Thee American Revolution[edit]

Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine[edit]

Sound of Ceres[edit]

Producing discography[edit]

In addition to producing all of the albums for The Apples in Stereo, Schneider has produced many for fellow Elephant 6 bands, including the following.


  1. ^ a b c "Robert Schneider". University of Georgia. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  2. ^ Jud Cost. "Apples in Stereo: a Terrascopic interview" (PDF). Retrieved June 29, 2007.
  3. ^ Matt Dornan (1998). "The Apples in Stereo". Comes with a Smile. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
  4. ^ a b ""A brief explanation of the differences between Pythagorean and Non-Pythagorean scales" at Pop Culture Will Eat Itself". Archived from the original on February 20, 2007. Retrieved March 23, 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. ^ a b c Schneider, Robert. "Non-Pythagorean Music Scale", Accessed 15 November 2012. Archived October 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b Schneider, Robert (2012). "A Non-Pythagorean Musical Scale Based on Logarithms" (PDF). Bridges. 2012.
  7. ^ The Apples in stereo official. "The Apples in stereo: Teletron Mind-Control Interface for Synthesizer." YouTube. August 31, 2010.
  8. ^ The Apples in stereo official. "Composition for Two Hemispheres (Experimental Score for Teletron)." YouTube. September 24, 2010.
  9. ^ "Apples in Stereo's Robert Schneider gave up a flourishing music career to chase his true passion: Math". Atlanta Magazine. February 22, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  10. ^ "Robert Schneider, PhD". Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  11. ^ Major Organ and the Adding Machine - Major Organ and the Adding Machine | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic, retrieved January 29, 2021

External links[edit]