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Michael Whalen on Imaginary Trains, Synths, Dolby Atmos/Apple Spatial Audio, and Crossing the World

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A conversation with Emmy-awarded musician in advance of his latest album

In addition to his greatest claim to fame – having contributed to Synth and Software several times – composer, recording artist, music supervisor, producer Michael Whalen has been awarded two Emmys, according to Wikipedia scored an implausible-sounding 650 films and “thousands” of jingles (?!), been a professor at multiple prestigious universities (that’s not in question), and he’s a prolific recording artist (either is that).

We talked to him just before his latest album Imaginary Trains was released, and also just before a concert he gave in support of EMEAPP, the Electronic Music Education and Preservation Project (which you probably read about here when we announced it).

You’re listening to some of the title track to Imaginary Trains (unless you’re just reading this on the site). Most likely you’ll like the album right away, but I recommend listening to it multiple times. It’s “hey wait a minute!” music; there are all kinds of subtle details that would be pretty much impossible to take in all at once, and the slow-moving harmony and uncomplicated melodies belie how sophisticated the music actually is. There’s some minimalism going on, but that’s certainly not all there is to it.

Michael is an outstanding musician, a sharp guy, very interesting and articulate, and it’s fair to say a player who really likes synths – and who just knows how to make them sing. He also talks about Dolby Atmos/Apple Spatial Audio and how he used it on his album.

We think you’ll enjoy the conversation.


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