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Father of computer music to visit McGill

Published: 20 Mar 2001

Widely considered the father of computer music, the renowned Stanford University scientist Max Mathews is visiting McGill to talk about his latest invention, Scanned Synthesis.

March 23, 2001
10:30 am to noon
555 Sherbrooke West
Strathcona Music Building
Room C-201

Widely considered the father of computer music, the renowned Stanford University scientist Max Mathews is visiting McGill this week to talk about his latest invention, "scanned synthesis." According to McGill professor Dan Levitin, who is hosting Mathews’ visit, "Scanned synthesis allows the performer to manipulate or ’massage’ the timbre of a sound -- a very exciting new form of synthesis." The design, which is based on both auditory psychoacoustics and on motor control physiology, was developed by Mathews at Interval Research, together with colleagues Robert Shaw and Bill Verplank.

McGill’s Levitin explains: "Scanned synthesis is done by scanning the slowly varying shape of an object and converting this shape to samples of a sound wave. The shape of the object is determined by the dynamic reactions of the object to forces applied by the performer. These forces vary at ’haptic’ rates (0Hz-20Hz). If the scanning path is closed, the sound wave is quasi periodic and a fundamental pitch is perceived at the period of the scanning (20Hz-20kHz). Scanned synthesis provides direct dynamic control by the performer over the timbre of sounds as they are produced. The object can be real or simulated."

Max Mathews bio sketch

The former head of behavioural sciences research at AT&T Bell Labs, Max Mathews has conducted research on computer methods for speech processing, human speech production and auditory masking, and developed techniques for computer drawing of typography. He created the first computer singing, "Bicycle Built for Two," made famous by the Kubrick movie 2001 as the swan song of the dying computer. The developer of "Music V" synthesis software and "Groove," the first computer system for live performance, he is also the inventor of the Radio Baton, a computer-driven device that allows the user to conduct their own orchestral performances from MIDI files stored in the computer. This gives the user control over tempo, dynamics and balance among all the orchestral instruments. The commercial software product "Max" was based on Mathews’ ideas for a flexible, user-patchable sound generating system.

Among the more idiosyncratic forms of recognition he has received, Mathews’ electronic violin was featured recently on the cover of Playboy magazine. He has won the IEEE Gold Medal, Acoustical Society of America Silver Medal, and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, République française.

Max Mathews’ talk is presented in conjunction with McGill’s Department of Music Theory and sponsored in part by the Office of the Vice-Principal of Information Systems and Technology.

Source Site: /it
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