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MUSI 255

Introduction to
Music Technology
Parameters of sound:
Harmonic content
Spatial Characteristics
Spatial Characteristics of Sound

i. Reflection

ii. Refraction

iii. Diffraction

iv. Reverberation
Acoustics of Musical Instruments
Other Characteristics of Sound


Aural Illusions

Shepard Scale
Other Technologies and Instruments
Francis Bacon

The New Atlantis


"We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds and their
generation. We have harmony which you have not, of quarter-sounds and lesser slides of
sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have;
with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep,
likewise great sounds extenuate and sharp; we make divers tremblings and warblings of sounds,
which in their original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and
the voices and notes of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which, set to the ear, do further
the hearing greatly; we have also divers strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the voice many
times, and, as it were, tossing it; and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some
shriller and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice, differing in the letters or articulate
sound from that they receive. We have all means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in
strange lines and distances.
Printing Press
Printing Press invented in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg. It made possible the
precise and rapid creation of metal moveable type in large quantities. By the 1500s,
the output of varied printed materials increased into the 10s of millions of copies. The
arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass
communication which permanently altered the structure of society in regards to
education, leisure, science and research, and the dissemination of printed music and
the birth of the music publishing industry
Weaving Loom

1785 Edmund Cartwright invented a powered


1801 Jacquard invented anautomated loom

using punch cards for manufacturing complex
Pipe Organ

First organ invented in 3rd century BC

Ctesibius of Alexandria: the hydraulis
which delivered a wind supply via
water pressure to a set of pipes.

The organ began to be employed in

churches around 900 CE. By the
1400s, the use of organs in
churches throughout Europe was
well established.
Musical Automata

Musical Boxes
Player Piano
Pat Metheny

Alexander Graham Bell

Thomas Edison

Emile Berliner
The Microphone
(David Edward Hughes,
Edison and Berliner 1877)
The Loudspeaker
Electronics Technology and Engineering

Vacuum Tube - control of electric current

The Computer

I. Background

1624 First calculating machine developed by Wilhelm Schickard.

1642 Early gear train calculator developed by French mathematician Blaise Pascal.

1666 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) suggested that the process of reasoning
could be broken down into smaller and smaller elements until it was reduced to
a few basic one, much like factoring a number into its primes. He proposed that
there is a set of elemental concepts, first terms, by means of which all other
concepts are defined. Lebniz envisaged that logical operations could be
performed on the basic elemental concepts of thought much like the
mathematical manipulation of numbers. An even bolder part of Leibnizs vision
was that , given an unambiguous representation of the structure of the world
and the rules of logic, the reasoning process could be executed
automatically, whether by pen and paper or by a machine.

1685 Leibnitz develops a mechanical calculator that uses a variable-toothed gear

wheel to achieve multiplication in a single operation, rather than through
multiple additions as was necessary in earlier designs. These calculating
machines provided him concrete evidence that, given symbolic representation
of thoughts and strict reasoning rules, it should be possible to build mechanical
reasoning machines.
1830s Charles Babbage conceives of the Analytical Engine where the results of a
given operation could be fed back into the machine and used for subsequent operation. It
utilized a central processor and a system of storage. Most innovative was its facility to
have a predetermined series of operations programmed to automatically execute in
sequence. Babbage also proposed that the execution of the sequence of operations
might change depending on the results generated by earlier operations (conditional

1854 The mathematician George Boole proposes a binary

system in which 1 represented true and 0 represented false as well
as a set of logical operations (and, or, not) sthat could be performed
on these 1s and 0s.

1923 The first use of the term robots in the Czech

Karel Capeks play Rossums Universal Robots.

1926 A female robot appears in Fritz Langs Metropolis.

1936 Konrad Zuse applies for a patent on an electromechanical
automatic calculator. With the advent of electricity, complicated
mechanical linkages could be replaced with wires and switches.
Zuses calculator included a memory for storing numbers and
results, a central arithmetic processing unit, and the ability to
define a sequence of operations to be given to the machine on
paper tape.

1937 Claude Shannon demonstrates that Boolean logic can be

represented by electrical switches and the Boolean operation
could be performed with the appropriate connections of
electrical switches. The same year, first electronic digital computer was built by Dr.
John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. It was called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer

1944 The first commercially available electronic calculating machine, IBMs Mark I,
could multiple two 23-digit numbers in approximately four and a
half seconds.
1946 The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) was built,
containing 18,000 vacuum tubes, occupying 3,000 cubic feet of space, weighing 30 tons,
and consuming 140 kilowatts of electricity. When this computer was turned on for the first
time lights dim in sections of Philadelphia. Computers of this generation could only
perform single task, and they had no operating system. (Todays pocket calculators dwarf
the capabilities of the original ENIAC.)

1950 Univac delivers the first commercial digital computer.

The mathematician Alan Turing creates a theoretical foundation for the

feasibility of designing a truly intelligent machine.

II. The Formative Years

1955 Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Issacson begin

experiments in composition with the ILLIAC high-speed
digital computer at the University of Illinois.
Lejaran Hiller - Computer Music 1955-57

Illiac Suite for String Quartet

1956 Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence with John
McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Herbert Simon and Allen Newell (the science of making
machines do things that would require intelligence if done by men).

1956 Hiller and Isaacson use the Illiac computer to create the first work employing
the computer to control compositional choices and stylistic parameters: the Illiac Suite for
String Quartet (1957). The work was composed by the computer based on tables of
conditional limits (i.e. involving pitch, rhythm, range, dynamics, etc.) and was then
transcribed into musical notation by the researchers for "live" non-electronic performance.

1957 First computer-generated sounds produced at the Bell

Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey.
Under the direction of Max Matthews of the Behavioral
Research Laboratory, composers such as John Pierce,
James Tenney, Jean-Claude Risset and Frederick Moore
work on employing the computer in research for new
methods of sound production and control and compositional

1959 Work at the Bell Laboratories by Max Matthews and James

Tenney begins and leads to the first MUSIC series of
computer music programs (MUSIC IVB) in collaboration
with J. K. Randall and Hubert Howe of Princeton University.
Max Mathews
Computer Music Daisy
1959 Harry Olson and Herbert Belar introduce their improved RCA Mark II
Synthesizer with a typewriter-like keyboard to record binary control codes to operate the
modules. The Mark II is capable of controlling the frequency, envelope, harmonic
spectrum, amplitude, duration and temporal progression of sonic events. The Columbia-
Princeton Electronic Music Center is established to house the Mark II and make it
available to a wide variety of composers.

1960 Pierre Barbaud (film composer) and Roger Blanchard

(choral conductor), working at the Centre de Calcul
lectronique de la Compagnie des Machines Bull in
Paris (a computer manufacturing plant) use the
computer as a type of composing machine similar to
the manner employed by Hiller and Issacson in
their Illiac Suite.

1962 Iannis Xenakis produces works such as ST/10-1, 080262; ST/48-1, 240162 (for
large orchestra); Atres (for ten soloists); Morsima-Amorsima (for violin, cello,
bass, and piano) using the FORTRAN IV programming language on an IBM-
7090 computer to aid in high-speed computations of stochastic processes
(probability theory) which determine pitch, gradient of glissandos, the duration
and dynamic of the emission of sound.
1963 Lejaren Hiller and Robert Baker produce their Computer Cantata wherein the
computer is used to produce the musical elements of pitch, duration, amplitude and the
additional parameter of timbre (the actual sound sources themselves). The choice of a
multitude of timbral sources (sine, square, and sawtooth waves, white and filtered noise,
and computer-generated sounds as well as the sounds of the Theremin and Ondes
Martenot) reflects a fundamental concept of information theory prevalent in computer
applications to music composition at this time: as structural ordering increases the
amount of information decreases.

1964 Gottfried Michael Kenig develops computer-controlled compositional

programs at Utrecht State University in the Netherlands and produces his work Project I.

1965 The first computer composition is realized at Princeton University in

conjunction with the Columbia-Princeton Center: J. K. Randall's Mudgett: Monologues by
a Mass Murderer. The computer is used to produce traditional accompanying materials to
a solo vocal part using MUSIC IV (by Godfrey Winham and Hubert S. Howe).

1967 Charles Dodge begins composing using the computer facilities of Columbia

1968 A light pen that eliminates much of the tedious work of punching input data on
IBM cards is developed at Bell Labs. Any of the musical elements such as pitch
and amplitude can be denoted by drawing a graphic representation of their
contour that is then relayed to the computer for calculation and storage.
1968 Vladimir Ussachevsky produces his Computer Piece No. 1 in which concrte
sources, an electronic organ and voice are used in combination with computer-generated

1969 Lejaren Hiller and John Cage bring their two year collaboration to fruition to
produce HPSCHD, and through the use of computer printout sheets of highly
sophisticated random numbers, create the first available recording of which each
performance (the listener performing on his record player knobs), and each copy of the
recording, is different and indeterminate. Each sheet contains a different set of numbers
for loudness and treble/bass control on each speaker.

J. K. Randall produces his Quartersines with a computer controlling all aspects

of the composition. A sine wave is transformed to create complex glissando patterns
using a FORTRAN-language version of MUSIC IVB (written by Godfied Winham).

Barry Vercoe produces his Synthesism at the Experimental Music Studio of

M.I.T. (Massachussetts Institute of Technology) employing the computer to create a
division of the octave into 16 equal parts as well as creating unique timbral relationships
by mixing bands of filtered noise with specific pitches. (Written in MUSIC 360 for the
IBM/360 computer.)

Jean-Claude Risset, after a period of research at Bell Labs, publishes a catalog

of computer-synthesized sounds and produces his computer-generated work Mutations I.

Max Matthews and Frederick Moore create their GROOVE program that uses
the computer to control analog synthesizers.
1969 Charles Dodge produces his Changes in which the computer simulates
acoustic musical instruments through precise control of filtering, envelope contour and
basic waveshapes as well as controlling varying degrees of rhythmic complexity that
contribute to the overall structural design.

1971 Jean-Claude Risset establishes a computer music installation in Orsay, France.

Barry Vercoe establishes an electronic music facility at the Massachussets Institute of


1971 Ussachevsky employs Max Matthews and F. Moore's GROOVE program in

Two Sketches for a Computer Piece which involved computer control (by means of a
PDP 224 computer) of an analog synthesizer by means of a keyboard. Random
production of pitches, amplitudes and rhythms was controlled by computer. A large part of
the piece is produced in real time.

John Chowning produces Turenas using computer-controlled spatial design.

III. First Powerful/Accessible Systems

1973 John Chowning of Stanford University publishes an article entitled The

Synthesis of Complex Audio Spectra by Means of Frequency Modulation which
articulates the digital control of FM to creation complex timbres.

1974 First attempts of synthesis using the computer at the GRM (Groupe de
recherches musicale, Paris).
1974 The first International Computer Music Conference is held.

1975 John-Claude Risset produces Dialogues for instruments. computer-generated


1977 Jean-Claude Risset produces Inharmonique.

IRCAM (Institute pour le cration et recherche en acoustique et

mathmatiques) is established under the directorship of Pierre Boulez at the Centre
Georges-Pompidou in Paris. Giuseppe di Giugno begins designing and installing the 4X
computer at IRCAM. The 4X will eventually contain 1024 digital oscillators for sound
synthesis, analysis and resynthesis.

1979 First powerful computer music workstation, the Fairlight CMI, is marketed.
1982 MIDI Specification 1.0 accepted by major music/sound manufacturers.

1983 Yamaha markets the first DX7 polyphonic synthesizer with 64 programmable
FM timbres: a dedicated music computer.

1984 Barry Vercoe improves on his compositional software MUSIC 11 by using the
more portable C programming language and thus creates CSound.

1985 First commercial sampler, the Ensoniq Mirage, is marketed.

1986 Patcher (predecessor to MaxMSP) control system for the

4X synthesizer developed at IRCAM by Miller Puckette.

1986-88 Standard MIDI Files added to MIDI protocol. Allows for cross-platform access
to MIDI data.

1989 Commercial version of Max released by IRCAM and licensed to Opcode.

1991 General MIDI and MIDI Machine Control added to MIDI protocol.
1996 Miller Puckette releases Pd (an open source graphical audio programming
program similar to MaxMSP)

James McCartney creates and releases open source audio programming

environment Supercollider

1997 David Zicarelli establishes Cycling74 that continues

development of Max, MaxMSP and Jitter
(video extension)

IV. The Present (and future....!)

2000s Computer music becomes synonymous with music technology and is integral
to most music recordings, irrespective of style. Personal computers and project studios,
synthesizers, digital signal processing modules and sequencers, MIDI, DAT, samplers,
live and interactive computer music systems, DAWs, ADATs, MDMs, surround-sound,
web-based audio, real-time audio streaming, virtually-modeled instruments, live-coding,
mobile music making and the Internet connects with everything bringing new access,
Computer Terminology

CPU - Central Processing Unit Operating Systems (Windows, Mac

OS, Linux, Unix, etc.)
I/O Input/Output
Mobile Systems (Windows, iOS,
RAM Random Access Android
GUI Graphic User Interface
Storage (memory) hard disk drives
(HHDs), solid state drives (SSDs), File System Access and Organization
portable storage (USB flash drives),
optical storage media (CD, DVD, Blue- Application Software
Commercial Software
NOTE: BACKUP YOUR WORK!!! Shareware Software
Freeware Software
Storage Capacity Open Source Software

Network Protocols Internet Service Device Drivers

Providers (ISPs), Local Area Networks
(LANs), Ethernet, Wi-Fi, High Speed Viruses
Research Networks
Podcasts on Sound and Listening

Reasonably Sound Podcast

Isotope New Audio Podcasts


Hosken, Daniel W. An Introduction to Music Technology. 2011

Chapters 1 3

Appendix 1 and 2 (Computer Hardware and Software)

Additional References

Khan Academy: Oscillations and Mechanical Waves
Next Class

Audio/Sound Recording