Max Mathews and 50 Years of Computer Music

Max Mathews“Fifty years ago, in 1957, at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Max Mathews demonstrated that the digital computer can be used as a fantastic new musical instrument. He created a revolutionary software platform destined to form the basis of all contemporary digital musical systems.

His audacious ideas were driven by the belief that any sound that the human ear can hear can be produced by a computer. Mathews’ mastery of this new instrument revealed new musical horizons and sparked a burgeoning curiosity into the very nature of sound. His comprehension and elaboration made five decades of art and research ossible, laying the groundwork for generations of electronic musicians to synthesize, record, and play music. Today at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) as a Professor Emeritus he continues not only to educate students and colleagues, but also to guide and inspire with his constant inventiveness and pure musical pleasure.”

You can read more about Max Mathews on wikipedia, where this image was taken from. An interesting side note is Max may just be the godfather of “groove” and accompaniment software:

“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.”

For any Berklee alumni, there will be a special event to honor Max on April 30. You can find more details here. Some of you might have been lucky enough to have caught the event on April 18.

Synths in Second Life

Meet Dreamaiden, a character in the growingly popular massive multi-player world, Second Life. Note the synths. I see a Roland JP-8000, what looks like an Oxford Synthesizer Company OSCar, and one more synth I can’t make out. I don’t play Second Life myself, but I’ve noticed a number of classic synths cropping up in images of the game. My guess is only the GUIs are modeled. If you play Second Life and/or know more about the synths appearing in the game, please feel free to comment. What’s interesting about Dreamaiden, is her new album, “Blue Light” will actually have a release party hosted in Second Life. Via Steve the mastering engineer for “Blue Light:” “Dreamaiden also runs the Abbacadabra gallery in Second Life, where she is hosting two launch parties for the CD on the 21st and 22nd of April. There is a listening booth where tracks from the CD can be auditioned, and DJ Plum is the MC for the event which is available as an audio stream.” The album also predominantly features the Andromeda A6 for all parts except drums. You can find more info including samples and a downloadable track on her website.

The KORG MS-911 and Synthi Micro

KORG MS-911Micro SynthiBeautiful custom KORG X-911 modularized into the KORG MS-911 via Perry.

“This is a Korg X-911 that I have re-built to a modular synth. The original X-911 Guitar Synth actually contains much more than is obvious on the front pane.”

Also be sure to check out the rest on his site including the Synthi Micro. The Synthi Micro isn’t exactly a clone of the original EMS Synthi as it does not share any electronic components, but it sure does look nice. 🙂

“”This is a sort of clone of the EMS Synthi A. Well, not a clone really, since it has none of the electronics like the EMS, nor has it the complete amount of functions. It is also smaller then the original. I wanted a synth that could do the typical effect sounds that the Synthi A is known for. At first, I designed an even smaller synth, with a minimum of modules and functions, and no pin matrix. But after a while I realized this design would be far too limited, and I also wanted the routing capability of a matrix. So this is what it turned out to be. I used a lot of stuff that I happened to have laying around in the junc box; like the 10×10 pin matrix, a small reverb tank, CEM3340:s etc.”

You can find more info including specs on Perry’s website. There are samples for the Synthi Micro.

Russian Made Polivoks

I thought the following was a particularly good demonstration of the Russian made Polivoks analog synthesizer via williamenroh. You can find an mp3 of the intro song here.

Every Barbie Needs a Synthi

Barbie Synthi
Finally, I leave you with a great shot of Barbie with her EMS Synthi by Wetdragoon. “Just for fun, here is a shot of my synthi, inspired by the famous ad: “every nun needs a synthi” ;)”

Awesome. I absolutely love this shot. It would make for a great album cover.

Have a great weekend everyone.

For daily synth-related posts check out Matrixsynth.

  • bliss

    Cool articles as always, Matrix. I wish I could go to that Berklee event, though. Too bad it's more than 3,000 miles away.

  • Thanks bliss. I appreciate it.

  • I found a pretty neat Polyvoks VSTi a while back, I've used it in some compositions, it offers some highly distinctive sounds, much fun!

  • Hi Matrix !

    A little late but I just discovered your post. I can answer your question on the synths in SL are created. Photos are take of the front, sides, and back. These have to be positioned just right, for example, the front has to be straight up and down exactly. The photos are then saved as .bmp or .jpg files and uploaded into SL where they become 'textures.' Then, 'prims' are created. Think of these as 3D physical MB. Like other 3D modeling programs you can create 3D shapes such as a box or ball. In this case, you create prims that are the shapes of the parts of the synth. Then you simply put the texture on the various parts and get it just right. Finally, you link them all together and violá, you have a synth. I recently had someone create the keyboards in my studio – the Andromeda, Karma, and Virus. You can see them on this page.

    You are right. There are now various music stores that have lots of synths in them and more are springing up all the time. In fact, complete music studios complete with with sound are there too, some quite sophisticated.


    Susan Baird

  • Thanks Dreamaiden. Keep on eye on <a>Matrixsynth today. I frequently post flickr shots with synths on them. I get a kick out of the synths in Second Life. I'll be putting up a couple of shots from your flickr set along with what you say here. BTW, ignore the trolls there as usual. If we were all exactly the same in opinion, life would be boring. : )

  • Hmm.. That link for Matrixsynth didn't work. I must have made a typo. Here it is:

    You can also find it at the bottom of every This Week In Synths post. Thanks again for dropping by.

  • Thanks Matrix !