Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Explore the eerily resonant nostalgia of Experimental Music On Children’s Television

Children’s television can often seem pretty weird to adult eyes. The new Tumblr blog Experimental Music On Children’s Television from podcaster/musician Mike Haley collects YouTube clips from when these shows got genuinely outré. For instance, “Geometry in Circles”, a Sesame Street animation that was almost certainly the entry point to Phillip Glass for most five-year-olds:

The blog also features The Residents providing a song for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and a Raymond Scott-composed soundtrack to The Wheels That Go, a 1967 short film from Jim Henson.


There are also several examples of synthesizer demonstrations. Mr. Rogers noodled a bit on an ARP Soloist. Instructional clips from Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, and Reading Rainbow are dominated by fascinatingly bulky synths. A very Doctor Who-like Thomas Dolby helpfully describes how they work on Ghost Of Faffner Hall, a pretty bizarre Henson production from the late-‘80s.

Experimental Music on Children’s Television has its share of pure kitsch—including a magic-synth scene from Jem. But the blog is not just a vehicle for scratchy YouTube clips and archaic-looking electronics. It’s a testament to those moments throughout the decades when television makers made a little room for the avant-garde in their shows, ever so subtly broadening the horizons of their young viewers.

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