Eric Siday

Resident archivist Jack Dangers examines a recent compilation of work by one of Robert Moog’s first customers, Eric Siday

Eric Siday was born in Ealing in 1905. He played violin in popular jazz bands in London in the 1920s, including Ray Starita’s Piccadilly Revels, who recorded for Columbia. He then presented a show on BBC radio, before emigrating to America in 1939.

Once he was in the USA, he started composing for television and adverts, and by the mid-1950s he was creating packages of commercial music for use by companies in their promotional material. He was one of the first people to come up with the idea of the sound logo, and he’d often use electronic instruments to create them.

You still hear one of them over here in the States at the end of re-runs of ‘The Monkees’. It plays on the ident for the production company Screen Gems which comes up after the credits. There’s a satirical documentary called ‘The S From Hell’ about that ident, and how it traumatised a whole generation of American kids in the 1960s. You can watch it on YouTube.

The jingle for it was recorded on an ondes Martenot. I think Siday sent it through the Turkish speaker – a speaker with a Turkish cymbal attached. The effect was a little like a spring reverb – a sound that’s very characteristic of that instrument.

I have one of a series of library music 78s which Siday released in 1960, and it’s really good. It was used in a couple of horror films and also turned up on a British programme called ‘TV Heaven’ back in the early 90s, where they broadcast an entire evening of TV shows and ads from a specific year. I watched that religiously. They showed a ‘Tomorrow’s World’ from the mid-60s, where they demonstrated a video player with figures in front of a video screen dancing to his piece ‘Conflict’. Other tracks from those 78s were on 1960s episodes of ‘Doctor Who’.

In the 1960s, Siday became friendly with Robert Moog, buying possibly the first modular system he built. Like all of Moog’s early customers, he contributed ideas to make the system more useable. Moog even designed and built a percussion module for him.

Siday made two LPs in 1971 – ‘Sounds Of Now 1’ and ‘Sounds Of Now 2’. Then in 2014, Dual Planet released ‘The Ultra Sonic Perception’ featuring Siday’s 78s and went on to re-release ‘Sounds Of Now’ in 2015.

Eric Siday died in Manhattan in 1976.

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