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date: 22 November 2019

Networked instrumentslocked

  • Anne Beetem Acker


Electronic instruments connected using a wired or wireless communication protocol allowing them to synchronize or influence each other during performance. The Americans Jim Horton (1944–98), an improvisational flutist and analogue synthesizer player, and John Bischoff (b 1949), experimental composer and performer, pioneered networking in 1978, when they created an interactive composition for two KIM-1-based computers, in which tones produced by Bischoff’s computer caused Horton’s to respond in accord with the computer program. Later that year, Horton, Bischoff, and Rich Gold (1950–2003) networked three KIM-1s for an interdependent, interactive performance in Berkeley, California. Horton, Bischoff, Gold, and others went on to form the League of Automatic Music Composers and its successor, The Hub. These groups approached their networked synthesizer/computers as an extended musical instrument involving many performers.

Another form of networking connects multiple synthesizers or other electronic audio sources with computers and controllers for synchronization. In this case, the output devices are treated as ‘slaves’ to the controlling ‘master’. Robotic instruments can be networked in various ways. In the early 2000s various music apps for the mobile phone and other handheld devices began to be developed that allow multiple devices to interact. These apps typically allow different devices to share the same score and play together, as with ...

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