RIP Max Mathews

Categories: Elettroacustica
Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: 22 April 2011

maxheadPessima giornata il 21 Aprile. All’età di 84 anni si è spento Max Mathews. Non un vero compositore, ma praticamente l’inventore della computer music, avendo ideato e scritto, nel 1957, il primo software che permettesse ad un elaboratore di emettere suoni.

Per raccontarlo con le sue parole:

Computer performance of music was born in 1957 when an IBM 704 in NYC played a 17 second composition on the Music I program which I wrote. The timbres and notes were not inspiring, but the technical breakthrough is still reverberating. Music I led me to Music II through V. A host of others wrote Music 10, Music 360, Music 15, Csound and Cmix. Many exciting pieces are now performed digitally. The IBM 704 and its siblings were strictly studio machines – they were far too slow to synthesize music in real-time. Chowning’s FM algorithms and the advent of fast, inexpensive, digital chips made real-time possible, and equally important, made it affordable.

Starting with the Groove program in 1970, my interests have focused on live performance and what a computer can do to aid a performer. I made a controller, the radio-baton, plus a program, the conductor program, to provide new ways for interpreting and performing traditional scores. In addition to contemporary composers, these proved attractive to soloists as a way of playing orchestral accompaniments. Singers often prefer to play their own accompaniments. Recently I have added improvisational options which make it easy to write compositional algorithms. These can involve precomposed sequences, random functions, and live performance gestures. The algorithms are written in the C language. We have taught a course in this area to Stanford undergraduates for two years. To our happy surprise, the students liked learning and using C. Primarily I believe it gives them a feeling of complete power to command the computer to do anything it is capable of doing.

Eccolo in un video del 2007 mentre ascolta Daisy Bell (A Bycicle Build for Two), eseguita e cantata nel 1961 da un elaboratore IBM 7094 grazie al software di John Kelly, Carol Lockbaum e dello stesso Mathews.

1 Comment
  1. jkant says:

    Un grandissimo, R.I.P.
    Anche io gli ho dedicato la quinta puntata del bestiario…

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