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PAT 101 Timeline

A historical view of electronic music for PAT 101 at the University of Michigan.

Michael Gurevich

on 5 December 2014

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Transcript of PAT 101 Timeline

"When Theremin provided an instrument with genuinely new possibilities, Thereministes did their utmost to make the instrument sound like some old instrument, giving it a sickeningly sweet vibrato, and performing on it, with difficulty, masterpieces from the past. Although the instrument is capable of a wide variety of sound qualities, obtained by the turning of a dial, Therministes act as censors, giving the public those sounds they think the public will like. We are shielded from new sound experiences."
–John Cage (1937)
Premieres /
Compositions /

John Cage
Clara Rockmore (1910-98)
Henry Cowell
Edgard Varèse
1958 – Varèse's
The Phonograph played audio recorded onto a cylinder via a simple diaphragm.
Original Phonograph used tin foil sheet on the cylinder.
Wax cylinders were used in subsequent production models.
First flat disc record player
Founded rival company to Edison
Precursor to modern record players
Like phonograph, initially operated by hand-crank
No active amplification until triode tubes
Magnetic Wire
Predecessor of all magnetic recording media including tape
Instead of tape as we are now familiar with, used steel wire recording medium
Magnetic principle is the same
Became common for voice dictation recording in the 1920s-1960s
Most common voice dictation medium in USA until after WWII
Controlled by pressing a thin wire against a metal plate, completing a circuit
Position of contact controls the frequency of a relaxation oscillator, producing a sawtooth-like wave
At first, markings on the fingerboard indicated note positions
Later, metal tongues that could be positioned on a rail allowed for a flexible-layout keyboard
Manufactured (briefly) by Telefunken for commercial sale
Developed by Oskar Sala (a student of Hindemith) into the Mixtur-Trautonium, which was used in compositions, film and dance scores
Friedrich Trautwein,
collab. w Paul Hindemith
(1928-30, Germany)
Thomas Edison
(1877, USA)
Emile Berliner
(1887, USA)
Valdemar Poulsen
(1898, Denmark)
Magnetic Tape Recorder
First experiments used steel tape: a telephone answering machine at Bell Labs, tape recorder at BBC, modified wire recorder for film sound
Commercial tape recorders appeared in 1935 in Germany using oxide coating on paper tape
Paper-based magnetic tape was in widespread use in Germany throughout WWII, manufactured by AEG
Allied countries relied mostly on wire recorders
Technology and patents were brought to the USA after the war
Ampex became the most successful US company at manufacturing and marketing tape recorders
In the US, Bing Crosby was an important advocate and investor in the adoption of tape recording, as it allowed him to pre-record his radio shows
Tape led to a revolution in radio broadcasting (as in music production) as it became evident that broadcasts (and recordings) no longer needed to be "live"; they could be assembled after the fact
(1928-35, USA, UK, Germany)
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
– 3M (1948, USA)
Acetate Magnetic Tape
Solved problem of degradation of paper-based tape
Polyester tape introduced in 1953
Paves the way for widespread magnetic recording, standard into the 1980s
Transmitted sound between 2 membranes over a wire.
Used concept of "magnetostriction," which is a poor way to transduce speech
Among transducers he tried were a knitting needle pressed against a violin, a beer barrel and a model of an ear carved out of wood
Philip Reis
(1861, Germany)
Reis Telephone
Electromechanical system originally for sending mulitple telegraph signals on a single wire
Used a piano-like keyboard, Gray realized it could be seen a musical instrument
Early truly polyphonic electric keyboard!
Others including Bell and Edison worked on Acoustic Telegraphy
Elisha Gray
(1874, USA)
Musical Telegraph
Alexander Graham Bell
Elisha Gray
(1876, USA)
Continued dispute over "who was first"
In reality there were a number of prominent scientists and engineers working on electroacoustic technologies around the world
1863 – Hermann von Helmholtz (Germany) publishes
Described in his influential book on acoustics and psychoacoustics
Allowed people to hear individual frequency components of complex tones
Hermann von Helmholtz
(1863, Germany)
Helmholtz Resonator
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Pierre Schaeffer
Max Mathews
Steve Reich
(b. 1936)
Triode Tube (Audion)
Lee DeForest (1907, USA)
Electronic element capable of amplification
Audio devices went from "passive" to "active", i.e. provided amplification
Beginning of "Electronic Age"
Initial most widespread application was Radio
DeForest also pioneered sound-on-film technology
Pauline Oliveros
(b. 1932)
(b. 1934)
Robert Moog
Leon Theremin
(1919, Russia)
One of the most well known and enduring early electronic musical instruments
Operates using "Heterodyning" or difference-tone principle
Brought to USA in 1927 and briefly manufactured by RCA in the 1920s
In spite of new possibilities, Theremin and his performer-collaborator Clara Rockmore insisted on playing classical repertoire
Inspired numerous build-your-own how-tos in the 1950s and 60s, as well as commercial versions and kits still available today
Radio telegraphy
Guglielmo Marconi (Italy)
Numerous innovations in physics and electricity by Hertz, Maxwell, Lorentz, Tesla, Lodge others contributed to the development of radio
As in many other cases of invention, Marconi's name is associated with the "invention" of radio largely due to his success in commercializing the application
Initially, radio was conceived for transmitting telegraphic signals (coded pulses)
First transatlantic transmissions in 1901-02
Reginald Fessenden
(1900, USA)
Radio transmission of
voice and audio
Also became involved in commercial radio-telegraphy in the US
Strong military interest (weather, communicatio)
First 2-way transatlantic radiotelegraph communication in 1906
First radio broadcast of speech and music in 1906
Foresaw the utility of radio for entertainment and music as well as communication
"On the Sensations of Tones as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music."
Poème Electronique
Imaginary Landscape No. 1
1939 – John Cage's
for turntables, muted piano and cymbal
Imaginary Landscape No. 4
for 12 Radios
1952 – John Cage's
is the first known suite of pieces to use turntable as the primary sound source
1930 – Paul Hindemith and Ernst Toch's
1917 - Marcel Duchamp's
& other "readymades"
make a splash in the art
Das Buch der hängenden Gärten (Book of the Hanging Gardens)
begins the composer's abandonment of tonality. Music is "liberated" from the requirement to be organized around a central pitch.
1909 – Arnold Schoenberg's
Composition VII
1913 – Kandinsky's
An important work of "Expressionism"
Rather than depicting an immediate impression of something external to the world, expressionists tried to convey complex inner emotional and psychic states
Evident in music, art, literature, theatre, dance...
Associated with Modernism
a compositional method that treats all 12 scale degrees as equally important. Adopted by many followers, including Berg, Webern, and eventually, Eimert and Babbitt.
1920 – Schoenberg begins using
exemplifies his ideas and commitment to incorporating noise as a primary element in composition.
1922 – Edgard Varèse's
The Art of Noise,
1913 – Luigi Russolo's
A manifesto from the
Italian Futurists
advocates the use of noise instruments
"to break...from this restrictive circle of pure sounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds."
World War I (1914-18)
World War II
Russian Revolution
advocates microtonal and mechanical music as a means for freeing music from "law-givers." "Music is born free and destined to regain its freedom."
Varèse travels to Berlin to study with him.
Busoni praises Cahill's Telharmonium.
1907 Ferrucio Busoni's
Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music
influences many composers in the US and Europe alike.
1930 – Henry Cowell's
New Musical Resources
1916 – Henry Cowell's
Dynamic Motion
Uses "tone clusters" to create timbral effects on the piano.
Thaddeus Cahill (USA)
Ingenious early viable electric instrument that used "tone wheels", essentially rotating electric dynamos that produced tones
"Overtones" produced by multiple wheels on the same shaft
Electrical switching and mixing, all controlled by a keyboard
Weighed an estimated 200 tons
Cahill considered not just electronic production of music, but its performance and distribution as well
The instrument was installed at "Telharmonic Hall" in New York's theatre district
Performances were sold via telephone lines to local restaurants, hotels and museums
Described as "singularly clear, sweet, perfect tones"
Cahill foresaw residential distribution
Interference of music with telephone lines yielded complaints
Collaborated with DeForest to test wireless distribution in 1907
Primitive technology eventually led to the Telharmonium's downfall in 1914, the year before DeForest patented a triode audio oscillator
1895 – Claude Debussy's
and later pieces like
Prélude à l'Après-Midi d'un Faune
Nocturnes (1900-01)
La Mer (1905)
are among the first to consider timbre as a structural and integral element of music.
is composed. A short phrase, set in an unusual meter, with no tonal harmonic elements, the score suggests a meditative experience where the performer repeats the piece 840 times.
Characteristic of Satie, the score includes highly descriptive (and odd) text instructions.
1893 – Erik Satie's
1907 –
Analytic Cubism
Timeline of Electronic Music, 1860–Today (work-in-progress)
composed at GRMC
in Paris
1952 – Stockhausen
1953-4 – Stockhausen
Studie I & Studie II
are among pieces played at Köln studio's 1st concert in 1954
composed in New York with help from the Barrons, Tudor et al.
Williams Mix
1952 – John Cage's
Oct. 28, 1952 – Otto Luening
Low Speed, Fantasy in Space
premiere at MOMA NY. Luciano Berio is in the audience.
are among his 1st
musique concrète
compositions, using turntables
Études de
1948 – Pierre Schaeffer's
1949-50 – Schaeffer & Henry
Symphonie pour un homme seul
regarded as the 1st full-fledged work of musique concrète
An engineer by training, worked at Radiodiffusion-Television Françaises (RTF)
Applied Moles's idea of the "objet sonore" as a basis to include any sound in musical composition;
Coined term "musique concrète" to indicate music that is composed of real sounds and exists as sound, rather than as symbolic notation; composed 1st pieces ca. 1948 with turntables, disc lathes, mixing console and filters
Founded Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète in 1951, later reformed as Groupe de Recherche de Musique (1958)
Collaborated with composer Pierre Henry on "Symphonie pour un homme seul" in 1949-50
Largely ceased composing in 1960; famously ambivalent toward the art form he helped create
Pierre Henry
(b. 1927)
Born in Paris, studied at Paris Conservatoire with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen
Collaborated with Schaeffer on "
Symphonie pour un homme seul
Unlike Schaeffer, was classically trained -- was the first composer with substantial music education to engage with musique concrète
The first real virtuoso of musique concrète, evident in pieces like "
Variations pour une porte et un soupir
" (1963)
Headed Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète from 1951-58, then founded his own private studio
Composed music for theatre and ballet, notably with choreographer Maurice Béjart
Continues to compose today
Later work tends toward spirituality, meditation
1911 – Schoenberg's
uses the term
"sound-color melody", proposing to use sound color as musical structure
Vladimir Ussachevsky
Sonic Contours
Gesang der Jünglinge
1956 – Stockhausen
composed in Köln. Uses recordings of a boy soprano and electronic tones. 1st known 5-channel composition.
"In the composition, sung tones must be blended with electronically produced ones to form a mutual sound-continuum... We only have a homogenous sound-family if sung sounds sound at certain places like electronic sounds, electronic sounds like sung ones."
premieres in Philips pavilion (designed by Le Corbusier) at Brussels World Fair. Performances alternated with Xenakis's
Concret PH
Iannis Xenakis
Born to Greek parents, studied civil engineering in Greece
After fighting against Germans in WWII, illegally entered France, worked for architect Le Corbusier
Studied with composers Milhaud, Messaien in Paris
Was responsible for shape of Philips Pavilion at 1958 World Fair: curved surfaces composed of straight lines
Same concept was used in design of his composition Metastaseis
composed in Milan studio transforms the voice of Cathy Berberian reading an excerpt of Joyce
1958 – Luciano Berio's
Thema–Ommagio a Joyce
Sound Material Classification
A: City Sounds
B: Country Sounds
C: Electronic Sounds
D: Manually Produced Sounds
E: Wind-Produced Sounds
F: Small sounds requiring amplification
c: control and predictability
v: lack of control and predictability
.... Applied to
Example: Avcc
A city sound with uncontrolled pitch, controlled timbre and loudness
Coin tosses were used to generate random numbers that were applied to:
sound types
track number
Otto Luening
accomplished American composer, and professor at Columbia
became interested in timbre as compositional/structural element after reading Busoni
collaborated with Vladimir Ussachevsky on some of the first electronic music compositions in the USA
co-founded Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center with Ussachevsky, Babbitt
composed one of 1st works for tape and orchestra, as well as early classic electronic pieces Low Speed, Fantasy in Space
Music was featured in first US concert of tape music at MOMA in NY in 1952
Vladimir Ussachevsky
born to Russian parents in China, moved to USA at age 20
With Otto Luening at Columbia, created some of the earliest American experiments in tape music in 1951, unaware at the time of Schaeffer and Henry
co-founded Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in 1959 with Luening, Roger Sessions and Milton Babbitt
Distinct from the Europeans, freely mixed recorded and synthesized sounds, giving rise to Tape Music (as opposed to Musique Concrète or Elektronische Musik)
Bebe Barron (1927-2008)
Louis Barron (1920-89)
first known Americans to compose post-war electronic music, Heavenly Menagerie in 1951
built their own "independent" studio in part to produce and record music for film, but experimented with electronics
Bebe was a trained composer who studied with Cowell, among others
together they designed idosyncratic circuits that each generated audio with distinct characters
used this technique to create unique sounds for each character in Forbidden Planet, their most well-known output
Luciano Berio
Born and studied music in Italy
went to the US to study at Tanglewood, heard Luening and Ussachevsky's concert in NY in 1952
founded Studio di Fonologia in Milan in 1955 with Maderna
only composed electronic music for about 5 years, went on to have a very distinguished career at Mills, Julliard
While in Milan, was married to American singer Cathy Berberian, and composed for (and with) her voice
integrated non-traditional use of voice in acoustic works as well
his electronic works represent a different approach from contemporaries Stockhausen and Henry; used speech sounds to break down and explore the voice into its elements, especially rhythm and phonetics
Special Purpose
Tape Recorder
Hugh LeCaine
(1955, Canada)
LeCaine had a vision of using variable speed control over multiple simultaneous tape loops to compose music based on recorded sounds
Anticipated the digital sampler by about 30 years
Multiple loops could be synchronized by a common mechanism, but had independent play heads
Speed (and pitch) was controlled by a keyboard
Installed at University of Toronto in 1959 and later at McGill in Montreal
Olson and Belar (1955, USA)
Offshoot of Olson and Belar's attempt to create a "composing machine" that would generate music based on probabilistic analysis of existing music
The RCA Mark II in 1958 was much more refined
Mark II had tuning fork and adjustable tube oscillators
Could generate sine, sawtooth and triangle waves, and white noise
Portamento, vibrato and envelope were controllable
Accepted punched paper tape input
RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer
1963-4 – Milton Babbitt's
composed with RCA Mk II Synthesizer. Programmable input allows extended serial techniques.
"A system capable of creating any sound which has ever been produced, and any sound that may be imagined by the human mind."
Operates on same heterodyning principle as Theremin
Initially a ring attached to a wire that controlled pitch "from afar"
Afterward, ring was mounted above a fingerboard that could be marked off to specific locations corresponding to pitches.
Ultimatley a keyboard was added.
Pressure-sensitive button operated by left hand activates notes.
Was used in French orchestral and chamber music, notably in Messaien's Turangalila-Symphonie.
Maurice Martenot
(1926, France)
Ondes Martenot
"Electronic tonalities" using homemade electronic circuits.
1956 – The Barrons create
Forbidden Planet's
Studied with Cowell in New York, then Schoenberg in L.A., who inspired him to commit his life to music
Initially found better reception of his music in the Dance world
Met Merce Cunningham in Seattle and began a lifelong partnership and collaboration
With Cunningham, collaborated with many contemporary artists like Warhol, Rauschenberg, Johns, and musicians like David Tudor
Composed a small number of highly influential works with electronics including Williams Mix and Imaginary Landscape No. 1.
Incoporated chance and Eastern philosophies into his compositional practice, which often sought to remove the presence of the composer
Asserted that any sound could be musical, evident in Williams Mix, 4'33" and a large number of pieces that specify actions rather than particular sonic outcomes
Considered by many to be the most influential American composer of the 20th century
Orphaned during the war, studied music in Berlin and attended Darmstadt in 1951
Studied with Messaien, Milhaud in Paris, and met Boulez, Schaeffer; who let him work at GRM
Went back to Germany and worked at WDR in Cologne, where he composed several studies and eventually Gesang der Jünglinge in 1955-6
Gesang effectively broke the stalemate between German and French approaches to electronic music by incorporate processed vocal recordings and electronic tones
Early music reflected musicians he admired: Messaien, Cage, Tudor
In spite of prior aesthetic differences with Cage, drew on indeterminacy heavily
Composed electronic and acoustic (and mixed) works throughout his lifePieces of the 1960s are among the most seminal electronic works, and the first large-scale electronic pieces, incorporating tape, live electronics and acoustic instruments: Kontakte, Mikrophonie I, Hymnen, Mixtur, Telemusik, Mantra
Highly spiritual throughout his life, initially Catholic which he abandoned after divorce in mid-60's; later, in mid-70's adopted belief in extra-terrestrials with advanced musical cultures
A difficult figure who operated outside the intellectual mainstream of the avant-garde (not politically motivated, not left-wing)
espoused many of the artistic sensibilities and ideas of the avant-garde but did not manifest them or apply them in ways that would be expected
Kontakte (Contacts)
for 4-channel tape, piano and percussion. Used rotating speaker platform in recording to create spatial effects.
1958-60 – Stockhausen
113 minutes long, incorporates national anthems from countries around the world as source material manipulated on tape.
1967-68 – Stockhausen's
use amplified instruments processed with live electronics.
1964 – Stockhausen's
Mikrophonie I
Stereo LP
Les Paul / Ampex Corp (1957, USA)
Paul, a jazz guitarist, had made a number of innovations in music technology, especially involving the electric guitar
Had experimented with multitrack recording in the 1950s and worked with Ampex to develop an 8-channel recorder for his recordings with his wife, Mary Ford.
8-channel tape recorder
Co-founded San Francisco Tape Music Center, which began in 1961 affiliated with the SF Conservatory, then became an independent institution in 1962-3
Interested in improvisation from an early stage; performed regularly with members of SFTMC
Early tape music tended to reflect this, and was produced "live" with minimal editing
Advocates listening as central to composing and performing
Influenced by Native American and Eastern philosophy, developed "Sonic Meditations" which evolved into "Deep Listening" practice
Deep Listening has elements of training course, performance method and spiritual practice
composed at Toronto Electronic Music Studio
1966 –Pauline Oliveros
I of IV
Oliveros, Sender, Subotnick, Riley, others are members
1961 – Inaugural Concert
SF Tape Music Center
in Ann Arbor
1958 – Robert Ashley &
Gordon Mumma found
Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music
combines electronic music, rock, jazz, poetry, psychedelics
1966 (San Francisco)
Trips Festival
"There is a growing awareness on the part of young composers all over the country that they are not going to find the answers they are looking for in analysis and composition seminars of the academies. Some retreat from the "avant-garde" music environment, live marginally on the fringe of the community, or attempt to work isolated from musicians and concert groups. They have insulated themselves by this isolation from the sickness of culture, but too often also from their own creative potential. Others have banded together and have produced concerts of their works outside of the usual organizations."

"... A community-sponsored composer's guild, which would offer the young composer a place to work, to perform, to come into contact with others in his field, all away from an institutional environment."
-Ramon Sender, 1964
Begin working with Milton Cohen, art professor at U-M, who developed "Space Theatre" light shows
Met other ideological musical allies like Roger Reynolds, Donald Scavarda, George Crumb
Stockhausen gave a lecture at U-M, and Roberto Gerhard was visiting composer, who supported the group's radical ideas more than the normal faculty
In 1960, Cage, Tudor and Berio all came to Ann Arbor
begins. A landmark festival of new music, defines a generation.
Mumma, Ashley, Scavarda, Cacciopo, Reynolds contribute music.
Runs annually until 1966.
ONCE Festival
1961 – (Ann Arbor)
Composition 1960 #7
1960 – LaMonte Young's
is an early example of minimalism in music
employ tape to create phasing effects: classic minimalism
1965-6 – Steve Reich's
It's Gonna Rain ('65)
Come out ('66)
translates his phasing / minimalist ideas into live electronic domain
1968 – Steve Reich's
Pendulum Music
The Gift
Mescalin Mix
1963 – Terry Riley
use tape-delay echo in minimalist procedures.
Born in NY, studied music, philosophy and drumming, eventually studied with Berio at Mills in CA (1961-63)
Performed in premiere of Terry Riley's "In C" at SFTMC in 1964
Discovered minimalist concepts could be applied in electronics through tape recorders at slightly different speed
"It's Gonna Rain" (1965) applied this concept to a recording of a street preacher; "Come Out" (1966, NY) to a recording of a young man in Harlem accused of murder and beaten by the police
Maintained minimalist aesthetic in the acoustic instrument domain afterward, gradually expanding the strict phasing idea and incorporating more musicians
Returns to tape + live instrument with "Vermont Counterpoint", "New York Counterpoint", "Electric Counterpoint" in the 1980s.
La Monte Young (b. 1935)
Musical perspective was first evident in Berkeley in 1958, with his "Trio For Strings", composed of long, held tones and rests
Encountered Cage's music played by Tudor in 1959 at Darmstadt
The "forgotten" minimalist; focused on economy of material, sustained sounds and very long durations, rather than repetition of small cells
Associated with the "downtown" New York circle of experimental artists in the 1960s, including the Fluxus group
Like Cage, Oliveros, Riley, others, became interested in Asian spritualism and music; studied Indian vocal music
Began to use just intonation, in which partials of harmonic tones are alignned
Founded Theatre of Eternal Music, whose members included violist John Cale, who later joined Velvet Underground
Created music/light experiences with his wife Marian Zazeela, including at his Dream House in New York
In C
1964 – Terry Riley's
an indeterminate, acoustic piece composed of "cells" performed at SFTMC. Inspires other minimalists.
1961 – Frank Stella
New Madrid
Part of his "Benjamin Moore" series, reflects minimalism in visual art.
A movement of artists against institutionalized art.
1962 – First performance by
created often absurd works of art out of found objects, to challenge the notion of what is valuable
similarly stretched the bounds of performance art: "performers" were non-experts; "scores" were instructions for action; "events" were short-form performances
associated with downtown NY
Yoko Ono, Dick Higgins, George Brecht, Nam June Paik, Joseph Beuys, La Monte Young are associated
I am Sitting in a Room
1969 –Alvin Lucier's
uses 2 tape recorders. 1 to play back a segment of spoken text through a speaker in a room, the other to re-record the sound through a microphone. Process is repeated.
published at AES
1964 – Robert Moog
Voltage-Controlled Electronic Music Modules
Silver Apples of the Moon
1967 – Morton Subotnick's
composed using a custom-made Buchla synthesizer, developed with Sender at SFTMC.
Modular Electronic Music
System (Buchla Series 100)
Produced in collaboration with Ramon Sender and Morton Subotnick at SF Tape Music Center
"Modular" : consisted of individual self-contained units that could be installed into a rack
"Voltage controlled": modules could be connected with cables; voltage level on the cable at a "control input" of a module controlled its output
Don Buchla (1963, USA)
Moog Modular Synthesizer
Operated on similar voltage-control principle as Buchla
More commercially successful, in part because it had a familiar keyboard module
Break-out success was when it was used by Wendy Carlos to produce "Switched-on Bach"
Also popularized by prog rock bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Krautrock groups like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream
Primarily a studio instrument; too difficult to perform and patch live
Oscillators were unstable and prone to "drift"; had to be retuned constantly for tonal music
Bob Moog (1964, USA)
Commercially available in 1971, Minimoog tried to address the need to create a compact version of the Moog that was reliable for transportation and performance
Oscillators were more stable
Eliminated patching
Popular for synth bass lines in pop music
Bob Moog (1971)
Don Buchla (1970, USA)
Numerous advances over the 100 Series
More modules, advanced functionality like envelope following, spatialization, random voltage generators, filter banks, polyphony, sequencing
Reissued and updated in 2004, now MIDI compatible
Electric Music Box
(Buchla Series 200)
MUSIC I Programming
Mathews was working at Bell Labs doing telephony research with the aim of using computers for telephony research
Developed digital-to-analog converters that could play digitally-generated sounds
With the support of John Pierce, was allowed to pursue what they both realized was the musical potential of this technology
The MUSIC I programming language allowed a programmer to specify musical qualities, but only primitive ones.
A fellow scientist, Newman Guttman composed the first piece for the IBM 704 computer using MUSIC 1: In the Silver Scale
Mathews said: "It was terrible... The program was also terrible–it had only one voice, one waveform–a triangular wave,–no attack, no decay, and the only expressive parameters you could control were pitch, loudness and duration" (Quoted in Chadabe 1997).
Through articles and publicity, the work became known by many, including Bernstein and Copeland.
Mathews improved on MUSIC I, producing MUSIC II-V from 1958-69. These became extremely sophisitcated, and provided the foundation for music programming languages like CSound and Max
Max Mathews / Bell Labs (1957, USA)
Mathews & Joan Miller(1969)
Is the first serious computer composition at Bell Labs
Analog #1: Noise Study
1961 – James Tenney's
Mathews (1962)
Implemented on IBM 7094, one of the first computers to use transistors
Programmed via punch cards. One computer (7094) generated digital audio onto tape. Another (IBM 1620) converted digital to analog. Normal turnaround time was 2 weeks.
a computer-generated string quartet score using probabilistic computations.
Illiac Suite
1956 – Lejaren Hiller and
Leonard Isaacson create
Kelly and Lochbaum
(USA, 1961)
Speech Synthesis
by physical modeling
Working at Bell Labs, created speech synth program on IBM 704. Collaborate with Mathews to get computer to sing "Bicycle Built for Two". Later referred to in 2001: A Space Odyssey
1968-9 – Jean-Claude Risset's
realized at Bell Labs. Among the first computer pieces to model instrumental sounds and use perceptual effects.
Mutations (69)
Computer Suite from
Little Boy (68)
published in Science. John Chowning at Stanford reads the article, and visits Max at Bell Labs.
1963 – Max Mathews
The Digital Computer
as a Musical Instrument
VCS3 (Putney)
Peter Zinovieff (1969, UK)
Influential synth made in England by EMS
Used unique patching matrix
Used at BBC Radiophonic Workshop to produce sounds for Dr. Who, among others
Realizing the limitations of computer-generated sounds (offline processing, lack of human input), Mathews & F. R. Moore developed Generated Realtime Operations On Voltage-Controlled Equipment (GROOVE)
Idea was to record human actions as computer input, and then use the computer to generate control voltages for an analog synth
Sound output was "instant," whereas digital audio took days to generate
First hybrid digital-analog or "computer-controlled analog" system
Used by Laurie Spiegel and Emmanuel Ghent, among others. They only had access to computers after business hours
Mathews used the system to begin implementing his dream for computer music – the Conductor Program – which would allow anyone to "conduct" a virtual computer-generated orchestra
Mathews and Moore (1967)
Buchla Series 500
Computer-controlled analog system
Installed at Cal Arts Studio under Subotnick
Don Buchla (1972)
Appleton, Alonso
& Jones (1972, USA)
Dartmouth Digital
Synthesizer (later
One of the first fully digital synthesizers, developed at Dartmouth College to support teaching and composition
Initially programmable via computer – had oscillators, FM synthesis, envelopes
Later became the Synclavier (1977), which had a real-time control panel with a keyboard, knobs and switches: no programming, no patching
Synclavier II (1980) incorporated 16-bit digital sampling to disk, cost ~$100k
FM Synthesis
John Chowning
(1973, USA)
First realized in 1971, demonstrated simulation of brass and bell tones produced with "extreme economy" – just 2 digital oscillators
Described in a J. AES paper in 1973, licensed from Stanfor by Yamaha in 1974 after no US companies were interested
FM technology could be implemented in specialized hardware, without need for an expensive computer; made digital synthesis affordable for the 1st time
Yamaha DX-7, released in 1983 cost around $2000 (compare to Synclavier)
Basis for many computer music compositions as well as pop music
Trained as a classical composer, but became heavily involved in computer music during his PhD at Stanford
Traveled to work with Max Mathews at Bell Labs in 1964, brought back the MUSIC IV program and got it running on the CS department's IBM 7094; digital to analog conversion was done on the AI lab's PDP-1
Chowning began working at the AI lab on computer simulation of moving sound sources
In 1966, developed a program in which a sound could appear to follow a given trajectory in space, played back on 4 speakers
Did first experiments with FM synthesis (he thought of it as "extreme vibrato" at the time) in 1967
Demonstrated FM bells and brass sounds to Pierce and Mathews at Bell Labs, who immediately suggested to patent the technique
Stanford licensed the technology to Yamaha in 1974, who built it into a series of synthesizers starting that year. The most famous became the DX-7, in 1983
Through grants and license revenue from the FM patent (said to have generated over $20million and to have been Stanford's 2nd most valuable patent ever), founded CCRMA, the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics
CCRMA later hired Pierce (1983) and Mathews (1987) as research professors
Chowning'had a small output, but his 4 early computer music pieces Phoné, Stria, Sabelithe and Turenas were important in establishing computer music as a serious art form
Stria was commissioned by Berio for the 1977 official opening of IRCAM in Paris
Conceived in 1970 by Pompidou, who invited Pierre Boulez to begin a contemporary music research center
Boulez consulted with Risset, met Chowning and others; Mathews was scientific advisor
Officially opened in 1977 with Berio and Risset as department heads, Boulez as director
Paris (1977)
Tensions over the institution's mission emerged; Boulez wanted research to serve composers, which was not always possible or in the best interest of the research
Nonetheless, IRCAM was home to many computer music innovators and innovations over the years, among them Miller Puckette's development of Max and pioneering use of computers to process the sounds of musical instruments in real-time
James Tenney (1934-2006)
Studied composition with Carl Ruggles; worked with Harry Partch and was introduced to electronic music by Lejaren Hiller at Illinois.
Was the first composer in residence at Bell Labs from 1961-64, where he wrote the first significant pieces of computer music.
Like others around Bell Labs (e.g., Risset) was interested in music perception as well as its production
His "META + HODOS" (1961) - and other subsequent publications - presents an early application of Gestalt psychology in music analysis; argues that contemporary music theory must include a theory of its perception as well as its production
Output after Bell Labs was largely acoustic, but remained interested in perceptual aspects of experimental music through different systems of tuning and harmony
Was associated with Cage, Philip Glass and Steve Reich, playing in ensembles of the latter 2; was one of the original performers of Pendulum Music
Founded the Tone Roads Ensemble, which became important advocates of the music of Charles Ives
Was involved in the "discovery" of Conlon Nancarrow's works for player piano
His "Spectral CANON for CONLON Nancarrow" (1974) for a re-tuned player piano draws on the idea of Cowell's Rhythmicon, where rhythmic subdivisions are associated with pitches of the overtone series
Nam June Paik
Born in Seoul during Japanese rule of Korea (which ended after WWII, with independence in 1948)
Grew up in difficult times during WWII and subsequent Korean war (1950-53), yet discovered contemporary music and became especially interested in Schoenberg in 1948
Studied music and aesthetics at University of Tokyo (1952-56), then moved to West Germany in 1956, where he met Stockhausen
Became involved in Fluxus, its "event"-based performances, and anti-establishment thinking
Was an admirer and then friend of Cage; Cage's piano prepration inspired Paik to use magnets to alter the images of broadcast TV
Paik became known as the first artist to fully explore television and video as media
Used televisions in various ways - on the one hand, the form of the television by inserting objects into emptied-out TV sets; by manipulating the circuitry and electronics; and by incorporating moving images with fixed objects
Developed video synthesis techniques as well, with Shuya Abe
Music remained important in much of his work
is commissioned for the opening of IRCAM. Features FM synthesis. Structured temporally, tonally and spectrally using the Golden Mean.
1977 – John Chowning's
is a landmark piece of computer music, using FM synthesis and 4-channel spatialization.
1972 – John Chowning's
is a surprise global hit. The German band goes on to produce synth-based music that influences techno, hip-hop & British synth-pop.
1974 – Kraftwerk's
composed at Bell Labs using GROOVE system.
Appalachian Grove I
1974 – Laurie Spiegel's
use light and space as an artistic medium. As in Risset's music, perception takes a primary role.
Shallow Space Constructions
1968 – James Turrell's
"First, I am dealing with no object. Perception is the object. Secondly,I am dealing with no image, because I want to avoid associative, symbolic thought. Thirdly, I am dealing with no focus or particular place to look. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking."
His first major solo show, includes TV monitors, "prepared" pianos, a freshly slaughtered ox head.
Exposition of Music - Electronic Television
1963– Nam June Paik's
Morton Subotnick
(b. 1933)
Studied composition with Milhaud at Mills College
A founder of the San Francisco Tape Music Center
With Ramon Sender, consulted with Don Buchla for the development of the Buchla Synthesizer
Taught at Mill s until 1966 and then went to New York
Wrote Silver Apples of the Moon and The Wild Bull with the Buchla – important early works for synthesizer; used sequencer to create rhythm
Was somewhat ambivalent about the uptown/downtown divide in NY: felt affinity for composers at Columbia, but also sympathized with Cage and experimental ideologies
Returned to California and directs Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology at Cal Arts
He Weeps For You
uses a magnified image of the gallery visitor in a water droplet projected on a large screen. The drop falls onto an amplified drum head.
1976 – Bill Viola's
(b. 1925)
Along with Cage, one of the most important musical figures of the 20th century.
Studied with Messaien at Paris Conservatoire, but also excelled in mathematics.
Began career as a music analyist and composer
Saw music as an intellectual exercise; regarded craftsmanship (according to a logical basis) as paramount
Rejected Romanticism and personal style, but was a harsh critic of vacuous modernity as well
Enthusiastically adopted 12-tone techniques, and sought "total" serialism, in which serial techniques are applied to all musical paramters, not only pitch – evident in his "
Structures I
Drew on rhythmic innovations of Stravisnky – "Marteau sans Maitre" is regarded as one of the most important pieces in 20th C
Later (in the 1960s) became an accomplished conductor, first of 20th-Century music, but has since recorded and conducted a vast repertoire of classical music
Was founding director of IRCAM, which was essentially created for him, although his engagement with electronic music has been limited
Last and most advanced in the "4" series of synthesizers at IRCAM
While predecessors were essentially digital synthesizers, 4x was more of a multi-purpose digital signal processing (DSP) machine
Was most famously used for Boulez's "Repons" and "Dialogue de l'Ombre Double," in both of which it performed relatively complex spatialization
Also utilized by Philippe Manoury, Berio, Henry, others
Cost ~$100,000; involved a mainframe computer, custom DSP hardware and the synthesizer
Giuseppe Di Giugno
(1981, France)
completed at IRCAM, for orchestra, soloists and computer-generated sound. Uses the 4X for real-time processing of soloists.
1981 – Pierre Boulez's
composed at IRCAM, for flute and 4X. Working on developing the piece prompts Miller Puckette to create Patcher, the early form of MAX.
1987 – Philippe Manoury's
In 1986 Puckette was working with Manoury on "Jupiter," and had to develop a program that could precisely schedule events in real-time
The unfolding of the piece would not be programmed in advance, the computer had to be able to respond instantaneously, but also be able to schedule future events – the "real-time scheduler" is the core of MAX
He connected the 4X to a Macintosh via MIDI and developed a graphical environment that interfaced with the scheduler, known initially as the Patcher.
Together, the interface and scheduler became MAX
Subsequently extended by David Zicarelli, published by Opcode in 1990
Eventually acquired by Zicarelli under his company Cycling 74
(1986-88, France)
First inexpensive (sub-$10,000) digital sampler/sequencer
(1981, USA)
Developed by a consortium of synthesizer manufacturers, led by Roland in Japan, in cooperation with Oberheim and Sequential Circuits
MIDI is a protocol for sedning performance instructions between digital synthesizers (and eventually computers)
For example, a MIDI message could be interpreted as "play Middle C at maximum volume using a piano sound"
MIDI functionally separated the input device (e.g., keyboard) from the synthesizer it was controlling; an advantage of digital
Now, one keyboard could control another, and synchronization / sequencing information (e.g., from a drum machine) could be communicated easily

IRCAM Musical
Workstation / ISPW
(1989, France)
The successor to the 4X, a NeXT computer with custom DSP hardware in its expansion slots
Alternatively called the IMW and the IRCAM
Signal Processing Workstation (ISPW)
DSP hardware was expensive - an ISPW machine could be about $40,000 - but extremely powerful
The only system that could do sophisticated, flexible and completely programmable real-time DSP in the early 1990s
Was the basis of a number of compositions for instrument and computer by Lippe, Settel, Manoury, Saariaho
Ran a version of MAX – Max/FTS – that included signal processing objects, a predecessor of Max/MSP and Pd
ushers in Industrial Music.
1977 – Throbbing Gristle's
Second Annual Report
Drew on punk's shock tactics, disregard for virtuosity;
also the electronic music of Kraftwerk, and a minimal aesthetic.
Anti-commercial ideology:

"an investigation to what extent you could mutate and collage sound, present complex non-entertainment noises to a popular culture situation and convince and convert" (Genesis P-Orridge 1984).
A collection of works originally part of her performance art.
1982 – Laurie Anderson's
Big Science
Anderson began her career as a multimedia performance artist, with a training in visual art.
Her "O Superman" was released as a single, and became a surprise hit in the UK, launching a music career.
Perofrmance art has 20th century roots in Futurism: Russolo's concert can be seen as an artistic act in itself.
Fluxus, neo-Dadaists and in the 1960s revived the idea of performance (by possibly non-experts) as an artistic act
Cage, insipred by Russolo, in turn inspired other artists at Black Mountain College, including Cunningham, Tudor, Robert Rauschenberg to frame the "everyday" as art
From these artists, "Happenings" emerged within the Fluxus movement
Paik, Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, Dick Higgins staged events that can now be seen as performance art
Performance art grew into a discipline in its own right, divorced from other forms
Media, music and movement became important
Later, figures like Meredith Monk and Laurie Anderson emerged among the more musically-oriented performance artists
R. Murray
(b. 1933)
Classically-trained Canadian composer, wrote large-scale and chamber works in the 1950s and 60s, exploring neo-classicism and serialism
Later lived in Vancouver and became interested in listening as creativity, and acoustic awareness
Pioneered the discipline of
acoustic ecology,
which explores the acoustics and psychoacoustics of natural and built environments
The Tuning of the World
(1977), he suggests that "we try to hear the acoustic environment as a musical composition and further, that we own responsibility for its composition" (Kendall, "An Introduction to Acoustic Ecology," 2000)
Developed a terminology for thinking about and discussing the acoustic environment: "soundscape" (vs. landscape), "soundmarks" (vs. landmarks), "soundwalk", "acoustic horizon."
Compositions began to incorporate awareness of the environment: Music for Wilderness Lake (1979), for 12 trombones is to be performed on the shore of a small lake at dusk and dawn; Princess of the Stars (1981) in canoes. In The Greatest Show (1977–87), the audience participates in a country fair with wandering musicians and sideshows they must win games in order to access.
Was instrumental in the development of soundscape composition – music which constructs, reconstructs or deconstructs the soundscape of a place and time
1977 – R Murray Schafer's
The Tuning of the World
published. Allied with some of Oliveros' ideas, attunes listeners to the acoustic environment. Treats listening as a creative act.
composed with multiple channels of real-time granular synthesis.
1986 –Barry Truax's
ca. 1970
launched by Schafer and followers to document and raise awareness of soundscape. First project is
The Vancouver Soundscape (1973).
Later becomes World Forum for Acoustic Ecology.
World Soundscape Project
Brian Eno
(b. 1948)
Studied at art school in England and was not musically trained, but became interested in Cage and Cornelius Cardew in the late 1960s
Performed works of these and other experimental composers including Young, Brecht and Christian Wolff during this period
Joined the rock band Roxy Music for a short time, which led to collaborations with more rock-oriented experimentalists such as Robert Fripp and John Cale
Became a noted producer for Talking Heads, David Bowie and others, and collaborated on projects with Bowie, David Byrne and Daniel Lanois
Coined the term "Ambient Music" to describe music that intended to create an atmosphere rather than a locus of attention, that straddled the boundary between melody and texture
codifies his emerging style of composition that created mood and did not demand focused attention.
Ambient 1: Music for Airports
1978 – Brian Eno's
Lewis began developing interactive systems that would respond to human improvisers after being introduced to the KIM-1 by David Behrman at Mills in 1976
Out of this, he developed Rainbow Family, an interactive system with pitch tracking and synthesis
Went to IRCAM in 1984 and began developing Voyager "completed" in 1987
Voyager system has been through several incarnations, and in its current form plays a MIDI disklavier in response to analysis of performed pitch and loudness information.
George Lewis
(1984, France, USA)
Demonstrates Flash's mixing prowess as a DJ. Flash had earlier pioneered scratching and developed a cross fader, building on the techniques and ideas of party DJs like Kool Herc and Pete Jones.
The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash
on the Wheel of Steel
1982 – Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
1977 – The Residents'
Beyond the Valley of a Day
in the Life
is an early "plundered" mash-up of the Beatles.
Alvin Lucier
(b. 1931)
After studying composition, received appointments at Brandeis and then Wesleyan
Was affiliated with ONCE Festival pioneers Mumma and Ashley
Founded the Sonic Arts Union with Mumma, Ashely and David Behrman, devoted to performing and touring live electronic music
Composed seminal pieces inlcuding I am Sitting in a Room, Vespers and Music on a Long Thin Wire that explored the interaction of sound and the space in which it is contained
Was music director for influential Viola Farber Dance Company in 1972-77, and worked with Merce Cunningham as well
(b. 1930)
(b. 1935)
Paul Lansky
(b. 1944)
Studied with, among others, Babbitt at Princeton
Developed 12 tone works in the 1960s and 70s, but moved to computer composition in the early 1970s
Developed compositional software and worked with engineers on novel sound processing techniques
Drawing somewhat on musique concrète, uses "real-world" sounds either recast as music, or explores their inherent musicality
A number of pieces – including Idle Chatter (1985), Smalltalk (1988), Now and Then (1991) – rely on speech sounds
Was prominently sampled by Radiohead in 2000 and wrote about the experience
Notably "gave up" on computer music in 2008 and returned to writing for acoustic instruments exclusively
Dhomont (b. 1926)
Born in France, studied composition and began to experiment with electronics
Never really gained prominence in mainstream electronic music circles until emigrating to Canada in 1979
Subsequently became highly influnetial as the modern-day torch-carrier of acousmatic music
Draws very much on the tradition of musique concrète and influence an entire generation of acousmatic composers
1878 – Edouard Manet's
Rue Mosnier with Pavers
is emblematic of his controversial paintings depicting modern life.
1872 – Claude Monet's
Impression, soleil levant
one of the first paintings to define Impressionism.
1899 – Sigmund Freud publishes
The Interpretation of Dreams
drawing widespread interest in his theories of the unconscious mind, and the importance of human mental life.
flourishes in New York. Drawing on earlier European painters, becomes the first important school of American visual art. Painters include De Kooning, Pollock, Rothko, Newman, Still. Combines elements of abstraction and German Expressionism.
Black and White Abstractions
1945-50 – Willem De Kooning's
Poured Paintings
1947-52 – Jackson Pollock's celebrated, numbered
reflect Action Painting style
Graphic Scores
1950-53 Morton Feldman uses
to create fields of sound where exact pitch is unimportant.
From Ann Arbor, studied undergraduate and doctoral work at U of M
Worked in Milton Cohen's Space Theatre with Mumma
Founded ONCE Festival and ONCE group with George Cacciopo, Mumma, Roger Reynolds and Donald Scavarda
Later, member of the Sonic Arts Union
Collectively, the group were pioneers of live performance with electronics
Later wrote large-scale works and operas that stretched the boundaries of the genre
The Wolfman, incorporating live voice, tape and electronics was a seminal theatrical work of the 1960s
Studied at U of M, co-founded the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music and ONCE
Worked in Milton Cohen's Space Theatre with Ashley
Later formed the Sonic Arts Union with Ashley, Alvin Lucier and David Behrman
One of the few composers (with Tudor and Cage) to work with Merce Cunningham
Plays horn and other instruments, and from very early on, was interested in live performance with electronics
Also wrote a substantial amount of acoustic music, including a number of graphic scores, as in his Mograph pieces for pianos
Coined the term "cybersonics" for his homemade circuitry that affects live performance signals
Einstein on the Beach
premieres in New York. A minimalist music-theatre work lasting over 4 hours 30 minutes, the opera has no narrative or plot. Einstein appears as a solo violinist. Music performed by the Philip Glass ensemble exemplifies his minimalist techniques.
1976 – Philip Glass, Robert Wilson and Lucinda Childs'
Terry Riley (b. 1935)
Met La Monte Young while at Berkeley, also studied in San Francisco
Was impressed by Young's use of long durations and long tones
Like young, became a student of Indian vocal music
A founding member of the SF Tape Music Center
Pioneered live tape looping that Oliveros then used in “of IV” compositions
"Mescalin Mix" in 1960 used very long loops, composed for a dance by Anna Halprin
"Music for the Gift", written for a play, used feedback and loops, with music by Chet Baker and Miles Davis as source material
Referred to his system as "time lag accumulator," reflecting the Minimalists' expanded and nonlinear view of time
His "In C," made of diatonic cells in C major, is one of the most enduring Minimalist pieces
Artistic Movements
Nadia Boulanger
French pianist, composer, conductor, and teacher
One of the most important composition and harmony teachers of the 20th century
A co-founder and, from 1948, director of the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, established initially to bring French music education to gifted American students
Students included Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, Virgil Thomson, Quincy Jones and many others
Olivier Messiaen
French composer known for his unique musical language, which included
"modes" based on symmetrical divisions of the octave or intervallic patterns
Indian-inspired rhythmic cycles
emulation of birdsong
independent treatment of pitch and rhythm
devout Catholocism
Extremely influential teacher of Boulez, Pierre Henry, Stockhausen, etc.

Messiaen –
Timbres-durées (1952)
Began with experiments by Pierre Schaeffer with phonograph discs in 1942 at the Studio D'Essai (later to become the Club D'Essai and the Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète) at the French "Radiodiffusion Nationale" (later Radiodiffusion Française [RDF] and Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française [RTF])
Medium shifted to magnetic tape as it became widely available in the 1950s
Musique Concrète
"Concrete" refers to the medium - the musical material of which pieces are composed
Concrete or "fixed" recordings as opposed to abstract representations of pitch, dynamics, phrasing, etc.
Musique concrète spawned "Acousmatic music"
Schaeffer's theory of acousmatic listening said that we should listen to the intrinsic properties of sound we hear, rather than to search for meaning or for its source
We cannot see a source, so we should listen as if there is no source -- listen as "pure sound"
Usually non-narrative
Acousmatic composition becomes exploration of the inherent potential within a concrete sound
Initially some conflict with German Elektronische Musik, which had its own aesthetic of "purity;" that of purely electronic (synthesized) tones, i.e., no real-world sounds
Largely resolved when composers like Stockhausen and Varèse began mixing concrete and synthesized sounds
Some Classics of the Genre
Symphonie pour un homme seul (1949) - Schaeffer and Pierre Henry
Variations pour une porte et un soupir (1963) - Henry
Poème électronique (1958) - Edgard Varèse
Concret PH (1958) - Iannis Xenakis
Thema (Omaggio a Joyce) (1958) - Luciano Berio

Jackson Pollock – Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950
Several paintings by Mark Rothko
(note the scale)
Willem de Kooning – Black Untitled, 1948

emerges in Paris.
1860- 1900 (approx) –
Term was coined in response to an exhibition by the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc.
Group was deliberately anti-academic, exhibiting outside the Paris Salon
The term Impressionism, applied by critics, reflects both positive and negative connotations:
On one hand, the term was derogatory, suggesting the paintings were "unfinished;" merely sketches
On the other, the artists were able to depict not just a landscape or scene, but their sensation of it ( a difficult feat )
Reflects an interest in psychology and affect; the beginning of an understanding of how light and shadow interact with our vision
Also influenced by interest in contemporary physics; esp. the decomposition of light into constituent colors
Claude Monet
Impression, soleil levant (1872)
Édouard Manet
Boating (1874)
Edgar Degas
Dancers in the Rehearsal Room with a Double Bass (1882-85)
Impressionism was also a consequence of industrialization and technology
Rail lines and the rising middle class made it possible for people to travel to retreats outside the city:
Rural recreation was popular subject matter for Renoir, Monet and Manet
Painters like Degas depicted scenes of working people, and new forms of entertainment available to the bourgeois (dance, theatre)
Street scenes too, focused on the realities of urban, modern life; capturing a fleeting moment in time of people going about their lives
New technologies also enabled the bright, vivid colors the artists preferred, especially new blue and purple hues
Auguste Renoir
Two Young Girls at the Piano (1892)
Claude Debussy
Prélude à l'Après-Midi d'un Faune (1895)
In Music, Claude Debussy is most prominently associated with Impressionism
Largely due to his interest in "color" or timbre, which he explores in unconventional orchestrations
Abandons traditional forms (like the symphony) in favor of pieces that represent the mystery of natural life or fleeting moments in time
Unconventional harmonic, melodic progressions, explorations in density, ostinati
As in painting, advances in physics and technology help make this possible, notably Helmholtz's demonstration of the decomposition of sound into constituent pure tones
subject matter tends to be depictions of modern, bourgeois life -- quite radical for the time
more than representing the world, the artists sought to reflect the resonance between the world and the mind
mystery of nature; power of perception
late 19th - late 20th C. –
Not a monolithic philosophy or a specific unified artistic movement
Rather, a concept that underlies developments in art (painting, sculpture, music, literature, theatre, architecture, design) throughout much of the early 20th century
Essential characteristic is a notion that art should be connected to MODERNITY, i.e., the notion that progress and innovation are inevitable and necessary facts of life
Art should integrally change along with the conditions of the world
Art is historically-rooted, but dynamic; there will be an AVANT-GARDE pushing art forward
Progress is aware of the past, but about inventing the art of the future; past is gradually rejected
Initial ideas owed to Beaudelaire: "‘By modernité, I mean the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable."
In music, Richard Wagner's writings advanced modernism
A fundamental tension exists in modernism, because there was still a desire for the ideal or the universal in art, but it should also reflect the time and condition in which it is created.
Joseph Maria Olbrich
The Secession (Vienna, 1898)
Stylistically, Modern Art tends toward
geometric forms, straight lines
importance of function (esp in architecture/design)
rejection of traditional notions of beauty
aesthetic embrace of industry
An early Modernist impulse appropriates Wagner's idea of Gesamtkunstwerk – a total or all-encompassing artwork
Attempts to:
meaningfully integrate art forms
break down barriers between different arts, distinction between "high and low"
create a universal style in architecture, decoration and design
These ideals come together initially in Art Nouveau, later in the Bauhaus
(initiated by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, centered in France )
Pablo Picasso
The Guitarist (1910)
eschew the idea that art should represent nature, and that it should inherit from past tradition
an "invented" style, in which the artist deconstructs an object into geometric shapes and then reconstitutes them on a 2D canvas
simultaneous, multiple perspectives of a subject
ca. 1905–1920
centered in Germany
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff
Head of a Woman (1916)
seeks to express inner experience of the artist
rather than reproduce the visible world, bring the invisible world to light
influenced by interest in psychology and Freud
art begins to reflect the human condition, which at the time was quite unsettled
1909 –
(Filippo Tommaso Marinetti,
Luigi Russolo et al., Italy)
advocated a more radical and violent break with the traditions and institutions of art
celebrated the technological markers of industrial life: speed and the machine
these became aesthetic ideals for and and culture
in paintings, obsession with motion, speed and the machine
became increasingly militaristic and eventually fascist
Gino Severini
Armored Train in Action (1915)
Luigi Russolo conceived of musical instruments that would be appropriate to the noise and pace of industrial urban life: Intonarumori or Noise Instruments
Russolo and Marinetti staged the first concert in Rome in 1914, which incited a riot, followed by 12 performances in London to similarly poor reception
Later concerts in 1921 in Paris were admired by Stravinsky, Diaghilev and Ravel
Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31 (1928)
inspired by Busoni's Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music, traveled to Berlin to study with him in 1907
returned to Paris in 1913, became associated with Satie, Cocteau and Jean Bertrand, who had invented an electric instrument
Moved to USA in 1915, and met Duchamp;
Composition titles evoke the mythology of science
Used noise on equal footing to pitched sounds; strong interest in timbre, especially in the search for new timbres through new instruments
Hyperprism (1922-3) is for 9 winds, 7 percussion, including siren
Ionisation (1929-31) acknowledged to be the first full piece of Western music for only percussion (13 players)
A revised version of Amériques (1919-21) for orchestra used the Ondes Martenot
Finally realized his dream of working with truly new sounds when he complete Déserts in 1954, for orchestra and tape
Poème Électronique (1957-8), commissioned for the Philips Pavilion (designed by Le Corbusier) at Brussels Exposition
ca. 1915–1925
Mechanical Head: Spirit of Our Age (1919)
Zurich, Berlin, Paris,
New York
Anti-institutional, political reaction against rising Nationalism and materialism after World War I
Challenged not just conventional aesthetics, but the very notion of aesthetics -- importance of taste
Artists worked in various media; combination of nonsense poetry and theatre led to the innovation of what would become "performance art"
ca. 1940-60
Abstract Expressionism
Raoul Hausmann
Duchamp was most important Dadaist in NY;
His "readymades" present an industrial object as an art piece, an anti-art gesture that questions the role of taste and judgment in art
Antecedent of musique concrète: using "found objects"
Much of Dada was intended to be shocking, provocative; to force introspection or self-awareness
Milton Babbitt
Student then long-time professor of Music at Princeton
In early life, equally interested in mathematics and music, which led to his study of Schoenberg and Webern's serialism
The first theorist to fully explore and explain Schoenberg's serial technique, which he then extended as a composer
Did this in part by applying serial techniques to aspects of music other than pitch -- rhythm for example
This was facilitated by the RCA Mark II Synthesizer, which could be programmed with a paper tape
His piece Philomel (1964) is a seminal work combining serialism, synthesized tape and live voice performance
With text by poet John Hollander, for soprano Bethany Beardslee, with 4-channel tape
Based on the Greek myth of Philomela, who, after being raped and mutilated exacted revenge on her attacker and was transformed into a nightingale
The piece employs wordplay in the text, which is also reflected as continuity between language and music, speech and song, vocal and synthesized sound
(Philomel, chased into the woods of Thrace, struggles to find her voice)
I feel—
Feel a million trees And the heat of trees
Not true trees--
Feel a million tears
Not true tears— Not true trees—
Is it Tereus I feel?
Not Tereus; not a true Tereus— Feel a million filaments;
Fear the tearing, the feeling Trees, of ephemeral leaves Trees tear,
And I bear
Families of tears
I feel a million Philomels----
Trees filled with mellowing Felonous fame-
Is it Tereus I feel?
I feel trees in my hair And on the ground. Honey melons fouling My knees and feet Soundlessly in my Flight through the forest; I founder in quiet.
Here I find onlyMiles of felted silence Unwinding behind me,Lost, lost in the wooded night.
Pillowing melody Honey unheard
My hooded voice, lost
Lost as my first
Un-honeyed tongue;
Forced, as my last
Un-feathered defense
Fast-tangled in lust
Of these woods so dense.
Emptied, unfeeling and unfilled
By trees here where no birds have trilled— Feeling killed
Philomel stilled
Her honey unfulfilled.
Feeling killed, unfulfilled
What is that sound?
A voice found?
Broken, the bound
Of silence, beyond Violence of human sound, As if a new self
Could be founded on sound. The trees are astounded! What is this humming?
I am becoming
My own song. . . .

Part 1
Part 2 (Echo Song)
(Philomel has a dialogue with other birds in quest of her new identity).
O Thrush in the woods I fly among,
Do you, too, talk with the forest’s tongue?
Stung, stung, stung;
With the sting of becoming I sing
O Hawk in the high and widening sky, What need I finally do to fly
And see with your unclouded eye?
Die, die, die;
Let the day of despairing Be done
O Owl, the wild mirror of the night, What is the force of the forest’s light?
Slight, slight, slight;
With the slipping-away of The sun
O sable Raven, help me back!
What color does my torn robe lack?
Black, black, black;
As your blameless and long- Dried blood
O bright Gull, aid me in my dream! Above the riddled breaker’s cream!
Scream, scream, scream,
For the shreds of your being; Be shrill
The world’s despair should not be heard! Fear and terror not be stirred:
The Gods who made this hubbub erred!
Bird, bird, bird!
You are bare of desire: Be born
O green leaves!
Through your rustling lace Ahead, I hear my own myth race.
Thrace, Thrace, Thrace!
Pain is unchained,
There is change
In the woods of Thrace!

Part 3
(Philomel’s suffering is “redeemed in song” as her refrain repeats and her song - the nightingale’s - reigns)
Living, growing, changing, being in the hum always Of pain! The pain of slow change blows in our faces Like unfelt winds that the spinning world makes in its turning:
Life and feeling whirl on, below the threshold of burning. I burn in change.
Far, far I flew
To this wailing place. And now I range Thrashing, through The woods of Thrace
If pain brush against the rushing wings of frightened change,
Then feeling distills to a burning drop, and transformation Becomes intolerable. I have been defiled and felt my tongue
Torn out: but more pain reigns in these woods I range among.
I ache in change, Though once I grew At a slower pace. And now I range Thrashing, through The woods of Thrace
Pressed into one fell moment, my ghastly transformation Died like a fading scream: the ravisher and the chased Turned into one at last: the voice Tereus shattered Becomes the tiny voices of night that the God has scattered.
I die in change.
Pain tore in two Love’s secret face. And now I range Thrashing, through The woods of Thrace
Love’s most hidden tongue throbbed in the barbarous daylight:
Then all became pain in one great scream of silence, fading Finally, as all the voices of feeling died in the west
And pain alone remained with remembering in my breast.
I screamed in change. Now all I can do
Is bewail that chase For now I range Thrashing, through The woods of Thrace
Pain in the breast and the mind, fused into music! Change Bruising hurt silence even further! Now, in this glade, Suffering is redeemed in song. Feeling takes wing:
High, high above, beyond the forests of horror I sing!
I sing in change
Now my song will range Till the morning dew Dampens its face:
Now my song will range As once it flew Thrashing, through
The woods of Thrace.

An example of an early optical synthesizer
Light passing through holes on rotating discs creates regular patterns recorded optically on film
Optical patterns are converted to varying voltage that drives a loudspeaker
Evgeny Sholpo
(1930, USSR)
1940 – John Cage's
for prepared piano
“I am frankly embarrassed that most of my musical life has been spent in the search for new materials. The significance of new materials is that they represent, I believe, the incessant desire in our culture to explore the unknown. Before we know the unknown, it inflames our hearts. When we know it, the flame dies down, only to burst forth again at the thought of a new unknown. This desire has found expression in our culture in new materials, because our culture has its faith not in the peaceful center of the spirit but in an ever-hopeful projection onto things of our own desire for completion.”
1948 – John Cage's Lecture
A Composer's Confessions
at Vassar College
describes a planned piece "Silent Prayer" that would become 4'33"
Developed by Mathews at Bell Labs in part to fulfill his vision of allowing a performer to control a computerized "orchestra"
Worked in conjunction with his Conductor program
Used radio waves to detect x, y, z position of 2 batons relative to a base station
was adopted by other performers for a variety of uses, especially the percussionist Andy Schloss and composer Richard Boulanger
eventually became a MIDI controller
Radio Baton
Max Mathews & Bob Boie (mid-80s, USA)
1978 – Paul Lansky
Six Fantasies on a Poem by Thomas Campion
pioneers the use of Linear Predictive Coding, a kind of physical modeling, in computer music.
1982 – David Jaffe
Silicon Valley Breakdown
uses Karplus-Strong plucked string synthesis, another early physical modeling technique.
Born to Greek and Anatolian immigrants, a gifted pianist from a young age
Worked as a jazz and cabaret pianist in underground SF Bay Area clubs
Studied music and psychology at UCSD, worked in hematology unit at the medical school, and with the mentally ill
Participated in unusual research experiments involving LSD, sadomasochism and the mentally ill
These "dark" experiences, along with her own bouts of depression, drug addiction, and the death of her brother from AIDS in 1986, shaped her provocative performance persona
A virtuosic singer––initially a performer of avant-garde new music by the likes of Xenakis––she is known for innovative "extended" vocal techniques including subharmonics, use of body resonance, and manipulation of her vocal folds
The effects of her vocal techniques are often magnified in performance by the use of live electronics and electronic sounds on tape
Diamanda Galás
(b. 1955)
a shorter, live version of her 3-part
Plague Mass
1990 – Diamanda Galas
Masque of the Red Death,
a critique of
cultural responses to AIDS. Uses biblical and spiritual texts to call attention to what she thought were hypocritical positions to AIDS by conservative religious institutions.
A trombonist, who as a student at Yale joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a Chicago-based collective dedicated to the composition, recording and performance of experimental and avant-garde music by African Americans
Other members have included Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, and Lester Bowie
In the early 80s was music director of The Kitchen in New York, an important center for experimental music
Was professor at UCSD for over 10 years and is now professor of American Music at Columbia, and was director of jazz studies there as well
Received a MacArthur "genius" award in 2002
Composed several works incorporating music and recorded media, but is better known for his work on improvisation with computers
George Lewis
(b. 1952)
Performed some of the earliest experiments in music with microcomputers using the KIM-1, along with David Behrman and Paul DeMarinis in the Bay Area in the early 1970s. Devised systems that would respond somewhat unpredictably to human musical input.
This evolved into the Rainbow Family (1984), a piece using multiple computers that respond to patterns of pitch, timing and loudness of human performers, commissioned by IRCAM
Rainbow Family evolved into the Voyager System, which similarly responded in complex ways to human performance. The machine became a bona fide improviser, responding to another performer, but also able to make choices to take the music in new directions
Lewis has been touring with a new version of Voyager that controls a Disklavier, a Yamaha MIDI-controlled grand piano.
Employs "microsampling" of existing popular music to create new compositions. Initial pieces were recompositions of a single source. Later ones merged several together, often humorously. Oswald was famously sued by several parties, most notably Michael Jackson.
1989 –John Oswald
Oswald's work was non-commercial; he gave it away and didn't seek to profit
Raises some of the earliest questions of ownership and copyright in the digital age, years before Napster and the mp3 file-sharing phenomenon
Some have argued that Jackson and others objected more out of pride or vanity than real harm
Uses inverse-FFT software (most likely MetaSynth) to embed his signature grinning image into the spectrogram of the piece. Aphex Twin (Richard D. James) is known for "Intelligent Dance Music," electronic music that derives from pop & techno traditions but sometimes adopts experimental approaches, challenges listeners, and is often technologically quite sophisticated.
1999 –Aphex Twin's
Full transcript