Synth: Synthesizer. A type of electric keyboard. Think Yes, Rush, Herbie Hancock, Devo, "Jump" by Van Halen.
Sampler: Records snippets of sounds to be used in new contexts. When most people think of samplers they think of P. Diddy stealing whole songs and just changing one word. But in the hands of a real artist, the sampler is a collage-making tool of infinite possibility, especially in the hands of artists like OutKast, Lauryn Hill and The Roots, who sample their own live musicians.
Sequencer: Strings together samples, puts them into sequence to form linear phrases or even whole songs.
Four-on-the-floor: Bass drum hitting on the 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, ... ad infinitum, or nauseum or ad bliss.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat: Quintron and his wife are an undeniably entertaining New Orleans musical and performance duo who -- through puppet shows, homemade electronic instruments and sincere shout-outs to the Ninth Ward -- encapsulate everything wild and weird and superior about New Orleans' particular brand of alternative music.
Theremin: Essentially an antennae that generates a note. The nearness of your hands to the antennae changes the note, so that when playing the theremin, waving your hands in the air, you look a bit like a symphony conductor. The theremin was used on many Beach Boys records, but is probably most famous as the instrument that makes the spooky, howling ghost noise 'woooo-OOOOooooo' -- in old black and white horror movies.
Moog: An analogue keyboard that can make any sound in the world. It generates a tone that's parameters can be manipulated by turning knobs. Moogs are so organic and reliant on human interaction that they almost seem to have lives of their own. "You can create a sound you like on there, and then write down all the settings," says Electrical Spectacle's main Moog-ist, Anton Gussoni."But then days later when you set it exactly the same it refuses to give you the same sound you expect." Stevie Wonder used it for a lot of the bass lines on Innervisions, it's prevalent on a lot of old funk records, and it's the keyboard Dr. Dre stole from P-Funk for the first Snoop Dogg record.
Vocoder: A voice synthesizer that turns your voice into a robot voice a la the P-Funk chorus, "Bow-wow-wow-yippee-yo-yippeeyay." See also Dr. Dre's "California Love."
Boomerang: A rare foot pedal sampler made for use while playing another instrument with your hands. The Boomerang loops, layers and changes the direction of bass lines for local band, Chef Menteur.
Farfisa: An old, pretty-sounding organ.
Aphex Twin and Authechre: Two electronic artists who can truly be considered composers. Where both can stress the transcendental quality of repetition that makes most electronic music enjoyable, Aphex and Authechre's compositions are often entirely linear with no repeating parts. A good place to start for any one who doubts the musical scope of electronic music.
Dub: Style born out of the 1960s practice of reggae DJs remixing reggae tracks by primarily removing the vocals, beefing up the bass and drum tracks, and adding effects. Hugely influential on hip-hop and the current electronica scene.
ARHAT: Local electronic artist who runs a webstation called New Orleans Electronic Cafe, which features some of the better electronic underground stuff: www.mp3.com/stations/nolacafe.
Pot Pie: Mike Karanowski, AKA Pot Pie, represents the purely experimental side of New Orleans' electronic music. "You definitely can't dance to it," says Karanowski, who uses generators once used to test electronic equipment, to send sine waves through guitar effects, creating imposing soundscapes. You may see him opening up for any of the acts mentioned in the article.
Public Enemy: The first popular hip-hop group to graduate from art school, P.E. broke sampling wide open, writing political anthems around loops of bombs whistling through the sky. In the denseness of their tracks, it's tough to recognize any of the hundreds of appropriated beats and noises. Its song "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back" proves wrong anyone who considers sampling an illegitimate art form (see also DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing").
Anthony DelRosario and Turduken Productions: The local don of indie and experimental music concert in New Orleans. -- Welch