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Article

Hugh Davies

[Compositron]

An electronic composition machine developed at the National Research Council of Canada in Ottawa from 1948 by Osmond (‘Ken’) Kendall (b Spain, 1909, of British parents), an electronics engineer at the National Film Board of Canada (NFBC). Basing his experiments on a simplified form of the optical film soundtrack and the idea of graphic sound, on which his colleague Norman McLaren was working, Kendall devised the Composertron, which employed a system for drawing sound-waveforms on a television screen with a grease pencil (probably the first use of this technique in a musical instrument); rhythm was ‘notated’ on a strip of film. The waveforms were scanned and this process controlled electronic oscillators; the resulting sounds were then recorded on magnetic tape. At the same time Kendall constructed a machine for speech synthesis using the same principle. Working models of both machines were assembled by the Canadian Marconi Co. in Montreal about ...

Article

(b Great Barrington, MA, Feb 23, 1868; d Accra, Ghana, Aug 27, 1963). American writer and social activist. He attended Fisk University (BA 1888), Harvard University (BA 1890, PhD 1895), and the University of Berlin, cultivating music enthusiastically as a choral singer and concertgoer. Beginning with The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and continuing well into the century in essays published in The Crisis and other periodicals, Du Bois synthesized European artistic values with insightful affirmations of African American culture, including music; this approach both informed and typified the New Negro aesthetic of the early 20th century. His chapter in Souls on “The Sorrow Songs” reveals a profound understanding of the beauty and social significance of black music. Influenced here by the folk art theories of Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803), Du Bois refashioned them to create a foundation for African American cultural consciousness. Elsewhere he referenced ...

Article

Eliot Gattegno

(b Milwaukee, WI, June 27, 1960). American computer musician, sound engineer, and educator. Erbe has played an important role in American experimental and electronic music since the late 1980s. He wrote the pioneering and widely used program SoundHack, has taught computer music at key institutions, and has become one of the most highly respected sound engineers for contemporary music. Erbe studied computer science and music at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and got his start as an audio engineer by volunteering at WEFT, WPGU, and Faithful Sound Studios.

He was the technical director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM) at Mills College (1987–93). There he worked as a computer musician and recording engineer with composers Robert Ashley (Improvement, 1992), Larry Polansky (The Theory of Impossible Melody, 1993), James Tenney (Selected Works, 1993), and Alvin Curran (Schtyx, 1994). During this period he also developed a four-channel spatial audio processor for the NASA Ames Research Center. His research at CCM included the development of SoundHack (...

Article

Jason Freeman and Frank Clark

[GTCMT]

Interdisciplinary research centre for music, computing, engineering, design, and business, founded in 2008 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The Center focuses on the development and deployment of transformative musical technologies, and emphasizes the impact of music technology research on scholarship, industry, and culture. In 2012 the Center had 23 faculty members.

Numerous projects have involved the development of new musical instruments, particularly mobile instruments for smartphone devices; robotic musicians that can listen to and collaborate with human performers; and novel instruments and interfaces designed for health and educational applications. GTCMT research projects have received many grants, mostly from the National Science Foundation. Two spinoff companies, ZooZ Mobile and Khush, have commercialized research results to produce mobile music creation applications.

Though the GTCMT does not have a direct educational mission, it collaborates closely with the university’s School of Music, and several of its faculty members teach courses and advise students in Georgia Tech’s Master of Science and Ph.D. programmes in music technology. The GTCMT presents concerts featuring new instruments, and related events, notably the annual Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition, co-sponsored since ...

Article

Mandy-Suzanne Wong

(b New Britain, CT, 1952). American video, new media, and sound artist, electroacoustic composer, and guitarist. Educated at the Eastman School of Music (BM), the Hartt School at the University of Hartford (MM), and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (DMA), Gwiazda is now professor of composition and music theory at Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minnesota. Early in his career he composed for orchestra and electric guitar, securing performances by the New Britain Symphony, the American Dance Festival, and others.

In 1986 he turned to electroacoustic music, performing throughout the United States and Europe on sampler, guitar, and tape. In the tradition of musique concrète, Gwiazda’s collage-like pieces emphasized the musical potential inherent in environmental sounds and other so-called noises. In 1992 he began working with virtual audio: the use of sound to simulate immersive, three-dimensional spaces. His 1994 installation buzzingreynold’sdreamland uses a precise configuration of speakers to give the listener the impression of being inside a bowl of sound (Gwiazda’s sampled, vocal, and guitar sounds). ...

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

Interactive computer network used as an extended musical instrument, played by a San Franciso Bay–area experimental computer network band also called The Hub. The band, founded in 1985 by Tim Perkis and John Bischoff, evolved from the League of Automatic Music Composers (1978–83). The concept of The Hub is to create live music resulting from the unpredictable behaviour of the interconnected computer system. The composer/performers consider their performances a type of ‘enhanced improvisation’.

Initially The Hub provided a custom-built central ‘mailbox’ computer and made use of a MIDI network providing communication between the composer/performers’ synthesizers. With the maturation of commercial MIDI equipment, the band shifted to using the Opcode Studio V multiport MIDI interface for their hub. Since MIDI is designed to allow one player or computer to control a group of synthesizers but not to allow a network of synthesizers to interact, band member Scot Gresham-Lancaster devised a way to program the system so the Opcode Studio V could route messages among all the synthesizers in the network....

Article

Mark Alburger

(b Harbor Beach, MI, Aug 10, 1940). American composer and performer. He began playing piano as a child and later studied with Robert Helps and Barbara Shearer. He attended the Aspen Institute in 1956, studying with Darius Milhaud, and Yale University (BA, music theory, 1962), where his principal teachers were mel Powell , lawrence k. Moss , and donald Martino . Jenks worked with Karlheinz Stockhausen at the University of California, Davis, and performed in Stockhausen’s work Ensemble at Darmstadt in 1967. He also studied composition with Andrew Imbrie and seymour Shifrin at the University of California, Berkeley (MA 1968).

Jenks became interested in electronic music through the San Francisco Tape Music Center, run by Pauline Oliveros and Ramón Sender, and thereafter associated with David Tudor and Anthony Gnazzo at Mills College. He created the performing group Deus ex Machina in collaboration with Martin Bartlett and built a large digital synthesizer called the Grand WebUrl Ensemble. Since the late 1960s much of his work has been electroacoustic. Jenks designed, contributed to, and edited ...

Article

KIM-1  

Anne Beetem Acker

(Keyboard Input Monitor)

Computer designed by Chuck Pedal and Bill Mensch, both formerly engineers with the Motorola Corporation, and released by MOS Technology Corporation of Norristown, Pennsylvania, in 1976. It was next produced by Commodore Business Machines of Palo Alto, California, after they acquired MOS in 1977. It was originally intended as a training and development system for industrial applications. The TINY BASIC programming language could be run on the KIM-1 with extra memory, making programming far more accessible. Hence, the KIM-1 was the first microprocessor adopted by experimental composers and performers as an easier alternative to making their own custom circuitry. Jim Horton, an improvisational flutist and analogue synthesizer player, was perhaps the first to realize the musical potential of microprocessors. He purchased a KIM-1 in 1976 and mentored many of his colleagues in using it. The KIM-1 could directly generate audio or act as a controller for other electronic sound generators. Most important, it provided memory, so that the user could program a time-varying sequence of events; in other words, the program became the musical score. In ...

Article

Mandy-Suzanne Wong

(b Madison, WI, 1979). American sound artist, installation artist, electronic composer, laptop performer, and visual artist. Based in Los Angeles, he has collaborated with Will Long, Mise_En_Scene, and Marc Manning, among others, and exhibited and performed throughout the United States and Europe. He owns and operates Dragon’s Eye Recordings, which promotes promising but under-recognized sound artists and composers.

Novak’s installations, along with his electronic compositions and performances, typically consist of quiet, subtly shifting textures. These sounds are often field recordings of environmental sounds, digitally transformed into exquisite drones or slow-moving melodies, as in +ROOM (2009). Novak’s work is often associated with Ambient music, demonstrating the fluid, and indeed questionable, nature of the boundary between music and field recording or, generally speaking, between music and sound art. However, unlike ambient music, Novak’s pieces are often programmatic. The goal, in many of his works, is to transform documentation into narrative by digitally altering prerecorded sounds and images. His alterations often consist not of fleshing out sounds and images by adding to their characteristics, but of digitally erasing their distinguishing features. He may obliterate the movement that we typically see in video, reducing it to a static expanse of color. Similarly, he alters environmental sounds beyond recognition into contemplative textures....

Article

Music studio and composer’s collective. It was established in San Francisco in 1961 by Ramon Sender and Pauline Oliveros, and was soon joined by Morton Subotnick. Its first location was on Jones Street, but after the building accidentally burned down, the center relocated to a large building on Divisadero Street. It was not only the first electronic music studio on the West Coast but also became a hub of artistic activities and technological research. In addition to offering light shows designed by Anthony Martin, it hosted many composers, poets and artists, and programmed various concerts: the Sonics series, regular programming featuring avant-garde music from the Americas, Asia, and Europe, the three Tudorfest festivals, and other events. This is where in 1964 Terry Riley’s In C was first performed and in 1965 Steve Reich first played his It’s gonna rain. The center was the site of a number of technological developments with Bill Maginnis, also a composer, and, in ...

Article

SSSP  

Hugh Davies

revised by Anne Beetem Acker

[Structured Sound Synthesis Project]

Interactive computer-assisted music composition system, including a polyphonic digital synthesizer, developed by the Canadian composer and computer scientist William Buxton (b 10 March 1949) and others at the University of Toronto Dynamic Graphics Lab in 1977. Its basic 16-voice multiplexed digital oscillator was used in three different systems. In the SSSP Composition System (1978) it was controlled by a PDP 11/45 computer in a studio environment; material developed in this way (up to eight ‘scores’ simultaneously) could be performed in concerts with the SSSP Conduct System (1979), controlled by a portable LSI 11/2 microcomputer. Both systems included a visual display unit and a choice of inputting devices: a 61-note keyboard, an alphanumeric keyboard, and a special graphics tablet by means of which the operator could ‘draw’ on the screen. This very flexible system offered a choice of notations as well as the sophisticated facility of the tablet, and composers needed no previous programming experience to operate it. The tablet led to the development of a new live performance instrument, the SSSP Touch-Sensitive Drum (...