Behind the Curtain: Daft Punk Production

April 3rd, 2008

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Sounding like a robot can be a tricky proposition. Daft Punk uses two musical devices to achieve the effect: the vocoder and the talk box. The vocoder was originally developed for telecommunications in the 1930s by Bell Labs, the idea being to code speech for secure transmission over phone lines. But it became a popular musical device in the ‘70s gaining notoriety with bands like ELO and Pink Floyd. Most readers who are my age will remember the Cylon’s voice from the original Battlestar Galactica, which were created using vocoders.

The talk box is an entirely different beast. A talk box allows someone to modify the sound of a musical instrument, usually a guitar (think Frampton Comes Alive!). The musician controls the modification of the sound by opening and closing their mouth. Really, it’s hard to describe how this works, so you should just watch this YouTube video of some college kid showing how Daft Punk uses one for songs like “Digital Love”.

There is also a darker side to Daft Punk production. It wasn’t until a few years after the release of Discovery that word started to spread around the internet that Daft Punk didn’t really create as much of the original music on the album as they had claimed in earlier interviews. This YouTube video details the alleged theft quite well.

Entry Filed under: Electronic Music

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