Chapter

The Foundations of Computer Music

Peter Manning

in Electronic and Computer Music

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195144840
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849802 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195144840.003.0010
The Foundations of Computer Music

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The first attempts at harnessing the computer as a tool for synthesizing sound date from the mid-1950s. During this period the acoustic research division of Bell Telephone Laboratories, New Jersey, became interested in the possibilities of transmitting telephone conversations in a digitized form, converting the analog signals into equivalent patterns of numerical samples at one end of the line, and performing the reverse process at the other. It was in such a visionary climate of investigation that one of Bell's research engineers, Max Mathews, began exploring the use of the computer as a means of synthesizing sound from first principles, using mathematical principles of waveform calculation. His first attempts consisted of two experimental programs: MUSIC I, which appeared in 1957, followed by MUSIC II in 1958. With a lineage stretching almost to the midpoint of the previous century, these MUSICn programs have undergone extensive development over the intervening years, taking full advantage of the quantum increases in processing power and versatility of the underlying technology. Despite these changes, many of the original features employed in their design have been retained, the most significant of these being the principles of wave table synthesis.

Keywords: MUSICn; Bell Telephone Laboratories; wave table synthesis; Max Mathews

Chapter.  7086 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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