AES New York 2007
Monday, October 8, 11:30 am — 12:30 pm
LUNCHTIME KEYNOTE: JOHN CHOWNING
Introduction by Agnieszka Roginska
FM Synthesis: 40 Years in Art and Industry
It was in 1957, 50 years ago, that Max Mathews at Bell Telephone Laboratories wrote the first sound synthesis program, Music I that he developed and released as Music IV in 1963. Running on mainframe computers at large institutions, the production of music was slow and costly. My naïve discovery in 1967 of frequency modulation synthesis—computationally efficient and having few but perceptually salient parameters—led to a rapid increase in music synthesized by computers, first by software synthesis, then by real-time hardware synthesis ten years later. In 1983, Yamaha’s DX7 coupled with the development of MIDI and computer music “hit the streets” resulting in the widespread use of computers in music that continues to this day.
There were many elegant technical and aesthetic contributions to the development of FM synthesis, by a number of people, many unknown to the public. The presentation will include sound-synchronous animations that demonstrate this development ranging from the first experiments from 40 years ago, the breakthrough in 1971, to my most recent composition, "Voices."
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