Wendy Carlos explains the science of synthesizers in a 1970 BBC interview

Wendy Carlos is a Grammy-winning composer and electronic music pioneer; she was also a friend of Robert Moog, and helped in the development of the infamous synthesizer that bears his name.

In the above video, she explains pretty succinctly how, exactly these synthesizer wave form manipulations work. I've played around with synths before, and I understand the basic concepts of them, but I've honestly never heard it explained with such clarity, or in such a way that illuminates their potential, quite like Carlos does here.

If you want to know more about the life of this fascinating woman, check out the recent biography about her life by musicologist Amanda Sewel, who also serves as the musical director of Interlochen Public Radio:

With her debut album Switched-On Bach, composer and electronic musician Wendy Carlos (b. 1939) brought the sound of the Moog synthesizer to a generation of listeners, helping to effect arguably one of the most substantial changes in popular music's sound since musicians began using amplifiers. Her story is not only one of a person who blazed new trails in electronic music for decades but is also the story of a person who intersected in many ways with American popular culture, medicine, and social trends during the second half of the 20th century and well into the 21st. There is much to tell about her life and about the ways in which her life reflects many dimensions of American culture.

Carlos's identity as a transgender woman has shaped many aspects of her life, her career, how she relates to the public, and how the public has received her and her music. Cultural factors surrounding the treatment of transgender people affected many of the decisions that Carlos has made over the decades. Additionally, cultural reception and perception of transgender people has colored how journalists, scholars, and fans have written about Carlos and her music for decades.

Image: Public Domain via Pixabay