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7 Extraordinary Women of Early Electronic Music

Wendy Carlos, Clara Rockmore, Delia Derbyshire, and more shaped the sounds of the genre’s beginning and influence electronic music to this day.

Take a moment to learn more about some of the important women who developed early electronic music in the 20th century.

Johanna Magdalena Beyer

Electronic, Modern Classical

Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888-1944) is the first female composer to create work for electronic instruments back in the 1930s. Although she did not reach notoriety during her lifetime, her compositions — especially her percussion music — have been immensely influential.

Sticky Melodies
Johanna Magdalena Beyer
2008
Electronic, Classical, Modern
2 x CD
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9 Preludes
Johanna Magdalena Beyer
2001
Electronic, Classical, Modern
CD
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Clara Rockmore

Electronic, Modern Classical

Clara Rockmore (1911-1988) is arguably the most accomplished artist on theremin to this day. She was instrumental (no pun intended) in establishing both the theremin and experimental music in general as art to be respected and revered.

Theremin
Clara Rockmore
2021
Electronic, Modern Classical, Experimental
Vinyl, Reissue, Remastered
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The Lost Theremin Album
Clara Rockmore
2021
Electronic, Classical, Modern
Vinyl, Reissue, Remastered
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Pauline Oliveros

Electronic, Ambient

Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) is a multi-instrumentalist (although the accordion was one of her main weapons), electronic music composer, teacher, and author who developed not only a unique setup of digital signal processors for her live performances but also musical concepts such as “deep listening” and “sonic awareness.”

Accordion & Voice
Pauline Oliveros
2022
Electronic, Experimental, Ambient
Vinyl, Reissue
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The Ready Made Boomerang
Deep Listening Band
1991
Electronic, Minimal, Ambient
1991
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Delia Derbyshire

Electronic, Soundtrack, Theme

Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) is an electronic music composer whose career is defined by her long stint at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and her contribution to the famous Doctor Who theme music. She has greatly influenced subsequent British electronic musicians.

Standard Music Library: Electronic
Delia Derbyshire
2000
Electronic, Soundtrack, Abstract, Theme
CD, Reissue, Mono
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Wendy Carlos

Electronic, Modern Classical, Baroque

Wendy Carlos (b. 1939) is an early modular synthesizer pioneer and electronic music composer. She helped Robert Moog develop his namesake synths and scored several hit film soundtracks. 

Switched-On Bach
Wendy Carlos
1972
Electronic, Modern Classical, Baroque, Experimental
Vinyl, Reissue
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Tron (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Wendy Carlos
2022
Soundtrack, Electronic
Vinyl, Reissue
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Pauline Anna Strom

Electronic, New Age, Experimental

Pauline Anna Strom (1946-2020) is a self-taught electronic music composer and synth performer who also went by the moniker Trans-Millenia Consort. She explored various complex themes and “inner worlds” through her work.

Trans-Millenia Consort
Pauline Anna Strom
1982
Electronic, New Age, Experimental
Vinyl
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Angel Tears In Sunlight
Pauline Anna Strom
2021
Electronic, Ambient, Minimal, New Age
Vinyl, Stereo
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Suzanne Ciani

Electronic, Experimental, Ambient

Suzanne Ciani (b. 1946) is a synth maestro whose work can be best defined as electronic or new-age music but also includes sound effects and jingles. She has composed and produced on a wide variety of electronic instruments but is best known for using Buchla synths.

Seven Waves
Suzanne Ciani
2012
Electronic, Experimental, Ambient
Vinyl, Reissue
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LIVE Quadraphonic
Suzanne Ciani
2021
Electronic, Experimental, Ambient
Box Set, Limited Edition
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