Notes for my talk 'The Origins Of Computer Music'
The Origins Of Computer Music
At the 1st Web Audio Conference held at IRCAM in Paris in January 2015, I gave a talk on the Origins of Computer Music. Here are some notes to accompany that talk.
With the help of Tom Stuart, I
developed a compiler for a
subset of the MUSIC V language described by Max Mathews in his 1969
book “The Technology of Computer Music” (MIT Press). This compiler
barely does enough to generate the first score in the tutorial given
by Mathews in his book but it is flexible enough to be extended to do
more if I, or any of you reading this, have the time and inclination
to do so. We wrote a parser for the language using
peg.js and it
should be straightforward to extend that to support the missing unit
generators. The implementation of the unit generators themselves is
described in the book.
In writing the talk I found the following resources very useful:
- “The technology of computer music”. M. V. Matthews. 1969, MIT Press.
- Max Mathews (1926–2011).
- An Interview with Max Mathews. T. H. Park. Computer Music Journal, Fall 2009.
- Interview with Max Mathews. C. Roads and Max Mathews. Computer Music Journal, Winter 1980.
- Computer Music 13. The Historical CD of Digital Sound Synthesis. CD and 260-page booklet, including a reprint of Risset’s paper “Introductory Catalogue of Computer Synthesized Sounds”.
- Computer Music Tutorial. Curtis Roads. MIT Press (1996).
David, James, Sam, Seb and Tom provided fantastic feedback on an early version of this talk. I’m also very grateful to Samuel for inviting me to talk at IRCAM, an institution I’ve wanted to visit since I first started learning about electronic music as a teenager.