Skip to main content

Janet Beat, a pioneer of British electronic music, releases first album at 83 years old

Janet Beat
(Image credit: Janet Beat)

Synthesist and electronic composer Janet Beat is releasing music for the first time. Until now, her recordings were only available through the British Music Collection's archive collection.

Pioneering Knob Twiddler is made up of seven recordings that use a mixture of synthesizers, tape machines and acoustic instruments. 

Ahead of her time but not widely recognised within the electronic music community, Beat has had a fascinating career. She began experimenting with musique concrète in the '50s after hearing Pierre Henry's sound poems, before setting up electronic and recording studios at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire and lecturing on multisound diffusion at Glasgow University. 

Beat faced much difficulty in advancing her career as a composer. After being told that women simply "do not do" music technology, her father discarded her early tape recordings, using the cassettes to tie up garden plants. She found success in the academic realm as a music educator, while publishing hand-written music scores and making her own recordings. In 2019, Scottish Women Inventing Music granted her a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of electronic music.

Pioneering Knob Twiddler is out now on Trunk Records. Listen to A Willow Swept by Train below.

Matt Mullen

I'm the Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for almost ten years, and when I'm not tapping away at my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard or a synthesizer. My latest obsession is the Arturia MicroFreak, which will have to do until I've saved up for a Prophet-6... 

All-access artist interviews, in-depth gear reviews, essential production tutorials and much more.
Get the latest issue now!