Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

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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