EMS - Alumni Comments, Memories, Tributes
At the time I attended UIUC and worked in the EMS in the mid-1960s, 'ChamBana' was one of the true hotbeds of experimental music activity in the whole world. I benefited tremendously from this unforgettable community and forged professional alliances on which I still rely on today, several decades later. Among the greats who were valued mentors for me, I especially single out Salvatore Martirano, who treated me like an equal from the get go and helped enable all my wild excursions into uncharted musical territory with unquestioning support. Lejaren Hiller had clearly established the radical spirit with which early computer music was imbued, and I still carry that spirit with me today. I valued Kenneth Gaburo's leading us through the depths of systems theory and still draw on materials from his seminars. I was given free reign in the EMS and cut my teeth on how to push musical circuitry to its limits, where James Beauchamp was a champion. The presence of the Biological Computing Laboratory on campus and its links with EMS, especially through the participation of Heinz von Foerster, was a seminal influence. Ben Johnston, Herbert Brün, John Garvey and a host of others helped connect mastery with experimentation in this environment. I apologize for leaving so many others out. It was a wild time, tomatoes were thrown, riots ensued from performance challenges, and the Round House concerts stimulated us to redefine everything we knew. Cheers arose from strong aesthetic challenges carried on the massive waves of innovation and sociopolitical tsunamis of the time. Maybe some are still around who will remember the nose-thumbing gesture my audacious friends and I made towards the relevance of formalized, new music settings when our string quartet, the one that recorded the formidably testing Illiac Suite, surprised a 1967 festival audience by presenting a Michael von Biel piece, scored with no pitched sounds, imbedded in a rock 'n roll show setting, complete with costumes and a contingent of girl fans from the sorority opposite Smith Hall who came in to scream for us in the balcony. The audience gave fortissimo cheers. Some community stalwarts were outraged; some threw accolades. All debated with Socratic incisiveness and invested in the issue of performers' creative rights as if the whole world depended on the outcome. Stuff mattered. Partly in response, my friends and I staged an alternative festival in the Student Union, The "Black Bag" Presents, Musical Massage, with pieces by William Mullen, Lynn David Newton and me. To repeat, it was a wild time, challenging all the definitions of composer, performer, audience and concert, an indispensable time and place in the evolution of American experimental music. (11/25/08)
David Rosenboom, Composer-Performer
Richard Seaver Distinguished Chair in Music
Dean, The Herb Alpert School of Music
California Institute of the Arts
I received my MM degree from Illinois in 1984, and returned to complete my DMA, graduating in 1998. I have been a faculty member at Humboldt State University since 1985.
My professional aesthetic was significantly influenced and deeply shaped by my studies at the University of Illinois. For me, the EMS was always a place that inspired my creativity. I felt its history from the very first day that I walked through the doors, and while I respected that history, the EMS environment also gave me the sense that I may be able to write that history one day myself! I was inspired and challenged by my great composition and electronic music teachers, Herbert Brun, Sal Martirano, Ben Johnston, Sever Tipei, and Scott Wyatt. They made me think in ways that I would not have without their influences, and they made me a better person as well as a better composer. Although I have made my career primarily as a percussionist and composer of acoustic musics, I draw upon my experiences in the EMS constantly. I am proud to be a part of the Experimental Music Studios history, and I am keeping my eyes and ears wide open for its future.
Eugene D. Novotney, MM and DMA, University of Illinois
Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies
Humboldt State University
I began my doctoral degree in composition at the University of Illinois in the fall of 2001, and over the course of the next five years I was able to flourish as both an artist and a teacher. I consider myself fortunate to have graduated from a composition program in which I was continually encouraged not only to hone my craft, but also to question and refine my aesthetic and explore new possibilities. This was particularly the case regarding my work in the Experimental Music Studios under the guidance of Scott Wyatt. As an accomplished composer, master technician, and a diligent studio director, Scott's artistic guidance and professional example played an invaluable role in my education at the U of I, and continues to positively shape my work as a composer and a teacher. Scott is an ideal mentor; he had a knack for sensing both the appropriate moments to step in and push me, and the right times to lay back and let me find my own way. Scott's skills as a studio director are truly inspiring. I quickly came to realize that the studios were not only well-equipped and well-run, but their condition was immaculate: everything from the daily maintenance period to the annual holiday party ran like clock-work. I am incredibly appreciative of Scott's efforts to create a model composing and learning environment in the EMS.
Ed Martin, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Assistant Professor in Music
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
My very brief 30-month DMA work at UIUC (86-88), working in EMS (and CMP), was intense and inspirational. The concepts, ideas, and materials I learned during this short period literally changed my life, in regard to my job and my career. All these years after UIUC, working in my job as professor of music in Hong Kong, I found myself referencing the University of Illinois and my work in EMS on a regular basis in my classes. My career as composer and performer, although it has gone through many turns, is very much indebted to my learning and experience at UIUC. Happy 50th Anniversary, EMS!
John Kwok-ping Chen, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Professor of Music
Director of Electro-Acoustic Music Center
Department of Music, Hong Kong Baptist University
Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Working with Scott Wyatt in the Experimental Music Studios and participating in the EMS community at Illinois is and always will be a very important part of my artistic and professional identity. This has become increasingly clear for me as I moved on from my time as a student at Illinois to working with my own studio and students. Whether it is in the classroom or studio, I frequently encounter situations when I have returned to lessons learned from Scott's guidance and practical wisdom. The Experimental Music Studios at the University of Illinois has earned a distinguished place in the history of computer music and continues to further the advancement of new music and creative thought-I am proud to have been a part of it.
Michael Drews, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Assistant Professor of Music
Department of Music and Arts Technology
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
~I swam in the Ganges
~~Bathed in its timeless waters
~~~from its bank, I watched
~~~~~and listened to others~
~~~as we conjoined
~~by our culture,
As a young(ish) secular American composer of miscellaneous heritage, I am naturally fascinated by the idea of being a part of a larger community, paradoxically though, one that caters to nonconformists and free-thinkers. For me, and probably hundreds of others like me, the Experimental Music Studios at the University of Illinois have provided that vital sense of place and belonging.
To this day, I continue to be impressed when I meet musicians, or colleagues in other disciplines, who have some connection, inevitably positive, with the Experimental Music Studios and the Composition-Theory program at UIUC. It is no coincidence that so many people have a connection to the studios, but rather it is simply a reflection of the indefatigable teaching and inspired leadership of Scott Wyatt, the UIUC composition faculty, and the many generations of experimentalist composition students who have created works of ingenuity and craftsmanship while in Urbana-Champaign. EMS is a cultural dynamo for the University that must always be cherished, for as long as that happens, it will remain a foundation for future careers and a nexus for the American electroacoustic music community at large.
Bradford Blackburn, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Assistant Professor of Music Technology/Theory
University of Tampa
The studios were always impeccably clean, well-organized, and well-maintained. The Experimental Music Studios are a model work environment that I will try to emulate in upcoming years. What I learned about audio engineering and sound design is indispensable. In Scott Wyatt's studio classes I developed an awareness of technical issues and a sense of aesthetic judgment that is hard to get in many other places. Current students should take full advantage of these things-if they don't, they'll regret it later!!
David Psenicka, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Center for Computation and Technology
Louisiana State University
When I first started working in the EMS, I had no prior experience with electronic music whatsoever, and had no idea what to expect from having this experience. My work there, however, has turned out to become one of the most important things that have happened in my life. I can proudly say that those pieces produced at EMS have become some of my most important compositions, and have helped me tremendously with my career. Finally, I would like to thank the composition faculty and the school of music for providing a free and creative working environment and for their ongoing support for the students.
Mei-Fang Lin, MM in composition, University of Illinois
Visiting Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory
University of Illinois
I was first attracted to the University of Illinois by the great history of innovation - Cage, Hiller, Johnston, Brün, Martirano, Partch - all the great American giants of the 1960's. When I arrived there, I wasn't disappointed. Scott Wyatt, Sever Tipei, Zack Browning, and the other composition faculty challenged me at every opportunity to expand and explore my notions of composition, aesthetics, and musical understanding.
The Experimental Music Studios were a haven for me, where I was able to learn my craft as a composer and grow as a person. Scott Wyatt knew exactly when to provide direction and when to let me struggle with issues until I could find my own solution. When I was the Operations Assistant, he taught me how to be a teacher, an administrator, an advocate, and a role model. There is simply no place like the Experimental Music Studios and no other person who is a better mentor for any aspiring electro-acoustic music composer.
Paul Oehlers, MM, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor, Audio Technology Program
I have nothing but the best, fondest memories of studying electronic music and working in the Experimental Music Studios at the University of Illinois. It was my first real introduction to electronic music, and that first year of study with Scott Wyatt in the EMS has proved to be an excellent foundation and continues to serve me well in so many ways. From the paper on "Futurism, Dadaism, Fascism, and Electronic Music," to the "In the past . . ." magnetic tape assignment, and the various other assignments, including the musique concrete tape study, and work on the Buchla, my experiences in the studio forever changed my thinking about music. One would think that spending the night alone with razor blades and rubbing alcohol could be dangerous, but with Scott Wyatt's encouragement and the support of fellow students, it was a great learning experience and makes for enjoyable reminiscing.
Scott is an excellent teacher, always generous with his time and compliments, and still demanding in the best possible way. I now teach electronic music to undergraduate composition students, and find that my course is a compressed and (only slightly) varied version of the training I received at the U of I. The many handouts, tests, and information I received as part of the course loom large. Scott is also a master at creating a community of studio users and electronic music enthusiasts. I'll forever appreciate the peers I was able to work with there--Andy Walters, Linda Antas, John Miles, Donnacha Dennehy, and many others . . . all best to them and to Scott. LONG LIVE THE UIUC EMS!
Steven L. Ricks, MM in composition, University of Illinois
Associate Professor of Music Theory and Composition
Brigham Young University
The EMS studios are certainly the best-organized and well-run studios that I have ever seen in a University environment. Scott Wyatt teaches by example: the way he maintains and manages the studios, organizes and realizes staging and audio for concerts and in his own impeccably crafted music are all lessons for those who work with him. In addition, the EMS Assistantship Awards I received during my time at the U of I were a great help to my development as an electro-acoustic musician.
I also want to acknowledge Sever Tipei and James Beauchamp for their important work and for encouraging composers to become programmers and for using a Linux environment in the CMP lab.
Timothy Johnson, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Lewis University faculty
Composing in the UIUC Experimental Music Studios and Scott Wyatt's electronic music courses were a huge inspiration and made me realize I wanted to be a composer. Scott's percussion and tape pieces, Sever Tipei's Formalized Music course, Jim Beauchamp's computer music class, Herbert Brun's ideas and relentless intensity, John Melby's serial class and Sal Martirano all stimulated my thinking about music. Wonderful teachers not involved in the studios as that time, who influenced the compositional environment were Morgan Powell, Ben Johnston, and Zack Browning. I will not forget Heidi von Gunden's excellent zen-influenced counterpoint class. The Experimental Music Studios gave me an exciting first exposure to electronic music ('78-'86) and composition, which has resonated since.
Mara Helmuth, MM, BA in composition, University of Illinois
Professor and studio director at the College-Conservatory for Music
University of Cincinnati
My time at the University of Illinois in general and in the EMS studios in particular gave me a certain outlook on artistic creation. The combination of rigor and creative expression was something that I still try to emulate. I still strive to put it into my compositions and impart some of these ideas to my students. It was important at the U of I to make things your own, to bring into this world things that could not exist without your presence. As I travel around this world you begin to realize that you don't get those kind of ideas from just anywhere. So I value this very much.
Plus, I will always treasure the people I met and befriended there, my teachers, friends, and colleagues. Many, such as Scott Wyatt, were so gracious with their time and commitment, and I am thankful for my time there. The 5th floor was a fun and inspiring place to be and I miss it.
Andrew Walters, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Technology
The short time I spent at Illinois begat a lifetime of friendships, inspirations, ideas. To begin to mention who, or what, would be unfairly countless other whos and whats, so I won't try. More concisely, I would say being there convinced me of my citizenship in a peculiar, amorphous, and wondrous nation of musicians and composers, an unmapped and unmappable country whose canons, immigration policies, and responsibilities of citizenship would never be onerous or objectionable, but always challenging, joyous, and as important as can be.
Co-director, Frog Peak Music
Strauss Professor of Music
The University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios (EMS) exposed me to the vast world of electro-acoustic music, in the context of the history of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a pioneering institution in this area. EMS courses covered the history of electro-acoustic music, acoustics, psychoacoustics and digital music theories, all of which became the foundation of my knowledge and greatly helped me in implementing my own classes and in my further studies.
With access to EMS I was able to write several electro-acoustic works that have been very important for my career, and, more importantly, my time in EMS was instrumental in finding my own compositional voice. Through my work in the studios I came to appreciate electro-acoustic music not just as sound collections or another genre that came out of technology, but as an art form in its own right. Each project was designed to explore a different facet of electro-acoustic music, which helped me to focus on sound design and its application. Not losing the focus of what we try to accomplish while we deal with electronic material also helped me to appreciate acoustic instruments more.
EMS is comprised of several studios that are designed to assist students depending on their skills and experience. This helps students to progress step by step, approaching mastery.
I would like to express my appreciation to Prof. Scott Wyatt and Prof. Sever Tipei, who have dedicated themselves to maintaining and expanding EMS while demonstrating genuine interest in teaching, as well as pursuing their own artistic endeavors.
I hope EMS continues to contribute to the music community by fostering high quality work and producing skilled and artistically sensitive musicians.
Kyong Mee Choi, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Assistant Professor of Music Composition
Chicago College of Performing Arts
Working in the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios is inspiring. The studios seem to hum with history - the feeling that John Cage and James Tenney are somehow listening in is inescapable. There aren't many "holy sites" in contemporary American music; the EMS deserves the title
Colin Holter, MM in composition, University of Illinois
U of Minnesota PhD candidate
Brunel University MPhil candidate
Jim Beauchamp first introduced me to the classical electronic studio at the University of Illinois during a course in acoustics. The studio also had a few Moog modules at that time. I thought it appropriate that I use the Moog IIIP at Mills College for Electric Ice, which I composed for the 50th Anniversary Celebration, in reminiscence and appreciation for Moog and for that amazing acoustics course which opened up an entirely new world of great interest to me.acoustics and electronic music.
My long-term interest in spatialization is the result of Gordon Mumma's influence, whom I met and was so fortunate to work with while at the University of Illinois. Spatialization in my works is always the natural result of processes (including the initial recording process) and is never superimposed.
Other faculty with whom I studied were Ben Johnston, whose works I was fortunate to perform and from whom I learned so much about how important careful analysis is to performance of music from all eras. Ed London was an incredible conductor. We had such a dedicated group that at one point the only time we could all get together to rehearse was in the middle of the night, which we did. Sal Martirano was so impressive. I had never experienced such a fully multimedia work as his performance of L'sGA. Since that time I.ve often incorporated visuals and dance in my works. Composer/performer Robert Ashley presented Wolfman on a concert while I was there, and that extraordinary performance is still burned in memory. After earning my MFA in performance from the University of Illinois I went on to earn an MFA (composition) in electronic music and recording media at Mills College where Bob was the Co-director of the Center for Contemporary Music.
I worked with dancer/choreographer Al Huang, who was truly visionary. I feel privileged to have composed music for many choreographers since then. And very importantly, there were so many exceptional fellow students, including William Brooks, Ed Kobrin, Dennis Eberhard, Stephen Beck, and many others with whom I worked that made my year at the University of Illinois most extraordinary.
Professor of Music
Co-director, Center for Contemporary Music
The four semesters spent studying with Scott Wyatt represented for me a memorable journey through the secrets of electroacoustic music in its historic development. I learned a lot, having a lot of fun, sharing ideas and thoughts with a great teacher and many wonderful classmates. I remember myself spending many hours working alone in the studio, and then closing the door already looking forward for the next studio time... I will miss the EMS!
MM in Organ Performance and Literature, University of Illinois 2008
Possessed of a compositionally varied though somewhat haphazard training in electronic music during my undergraduate education at a small liberal arts college, I was drawn to the Experimental Music Studios (EMS) because of their historical reputation as a leading center of electronic and computer music with a large number of composition faculty as well their reputation for providing an comprehensive pedagogical approach, that, in my case, would fill in any and all gaps in my undergraduate training. Starting out, my initial expectations of a thorough electronic music education were not just confirmed, they were surpassed as we sharpened our razor blades, took out our grease pencils and starting up cutting up tape and aggregating ancient sine wave oscillators. Here we are learning the history of electroacoustic music, not simply by reading but by progressing through history ourselves, working through the same technical constraints as our predecessors and gradually expanding our technical palette, making sure our foundational knowledge was properly nurtured and that we wouldn't fall prey to the easy lure of presets and knob twirling starting to take shape in the burgeoning audio software and synthesizer realm.
In hindsight, the other aspect of my UIUC EMS experience that strikes me as particular rewarding was the care that certain faculty took in opening up the world of conferences, journals, and the development of compositional and academic reputation to us. Always gracious in the halls, they were equally collegial and passionate during many of these events and helped shape the spirit and friendships underlying much of the academic side of these events.
Lead Application Developer, Burnett Group, New York City
Director, Levekuhn Studios, Mystic
Associate Editor, Computer Music Journal, MIT Press
The years I spent at the University of Illinois School of Music were one of the most stimulating and satisfying times of my life. Studying with Sal Martirano, Paul Zonn, Morgan Powell, James Beauchamp and Herbert Brun challenged me to perform way beyond what I had previously thought I was capable of. If I could go back and do it over, I would in a heartbeat.
Audio specialist and contractor
The fondest/ funniest memories of EMS work: Studio A where all of us newbies learned synthesis with those vacuum tube generators that would get so hot that you would have to open the door and go out for fresh air about every 30 minutes! Making tape loops that went all the way down the fifth floor hallway! Learning to use the Buchla to 'place' my sounds in a quadraphonic space! Having to save money for MONTHS in order to afford a reel of half-inch tape! Cutting my finger with a razor blade and bleeding all the way down the hall to the women's restroom!
Goofiest memory: Coming to the fifth floor at midnight one night and discovering David Kelley and Joseph Jurek doing something VERY bizarre with raw chicken and my TA desk alarm clock for one of Joe's pieces!
Funniest Scott memories: That studio exam we had to take EVERY SEMESTER (even after doing it 8 semesters in a row) which NEVER CHANGED. I xeroxed mine the first time and then every semester would just copy it over. I still have it in a file folder somewhere! Scott one time explaining to me very proudly about how he had a seamstress sew creases in his jeans and pants so he never had to iron them!
Take aways: Scott Wyatt was the one who encouraged me to study women and music technology - the work for which I am 'known' today. The absolutely uncompromisingly high ideals taught to me by Scott (and Herbert Brun) made me totally unfit to be a college professor anywhere (your average music professor does not like to have colleagues with uncompromisingly high ideals) BUT made me a success as a composer, author, and researcher once I left my professorial ambitions behind. I now build computer classrooms, computer labs, and visualization and sonification research labs at UNT and Scott's exacting standards (see sewn pants creases above) still set the high bar I employ when embarking upon these projects. Sitting down in front of my Mac Powerbook now with all of my digital tools, I realize that though my music now sounds much better and is easier to construct it is not nearly as fun as the splicing and dicing I did during my years at U of I.
Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Student Computing Services Manager
The University of North Texas
I had wonderful instruction at University of Illinois. There were two professors that especially influenced by development as a composer: Scott Wyatt and John (Jack) Melby
What I learned from Jack:
- Don't hide yourself under a rock. No one is going to come looking for another composer. No one is going to spend the time to find out what you have achieved.
- You have the ability to write new music computer programs and you have the ability to compose great works but you do not have the time to do both.
- What a gerund is.
- If you have a choice between cleaning your desk or composing, choose the latter.
- How to create music using Music IVBF and how to use a computer card reader.
- How to cook Belgian Endive.
- Advice from Jack that I didn't follow but should have: Don't be in such a hurry to get your first job. Go first to New York.
What I learned from Scott:
- Electroacoustic music is about more than notes and rhythms.
- Synthesizing a sound is easy, synthesizing a sound worth listening to is much more difficult and requires attention to detail.
- Without constant attention, a studio will deconstruct quickly.
- Don't sit around whining about lack of funding for the studio, go out and raise the money.
- How to splice.
- Advice from Scott that I didn't follow but should have: Before you are tenured stay completely out of the politics at your institution.
Both Scott and Jack treated me with great kindness. Their willingness to talk with me outside of class, have me over to their house, have coffee with me, drive me to Chicago for special concerts was greatly appreciated when I was a student. But now that I am a professor, I am astounded that they were willing to do all of that. They were both exceptional mentors in addition to being wonderful professors.
Charles Mason, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Professor of Music
Birmingham Southern College
I came to Illinois because of a book I found in the Texas Tech University library: Music By Computers, edited by Heinz Von Foerster and James Beauchamp. I had known for several years that I wanted to make music with computers, so when I found this book and noticed that most of the authors were at the University of Illinois; I immediately applied and was accepted into the doctoral program. I arrived a week before classes to take the entrance exams and asked Scott Wyatt if I could help him get the studios ready for the fall semester and was delighted when he put me to work soldering patch cords.
Illinois was an environment where virtually everyone--whether faculty, student, or staff--was actively experimenting and creating software, hardware, and music. Faculty members did not act as mentors but as colleagues who, by actively engaging in their own creative work, served as examples of artists questioning the status quo and postulating alternative solutions. Sal Martirano was just learning to program in C in preparation for his YahaSalMaMac and would hold after-hours seminars on combinatorial pitch theory in his home studio where we read articles by Donald Martino over glasses of wine and freshly sliced watermelon seated right next to the SalMar Construction: one of the earliest examples of a complex system for music composition and digital sound synthesis. Herbert BrÃ¼ written the beautifully algebraic SAWDUST language and was using it to compose I toLD YOU so. Jim Beauchamp had just finished the PLACOMP hybrid synthesizer, was doing research in time-varying spectral analysis of music tones, (and, contemporaneously with Robert Moog, had built one of the first voltage-controlled analog synthesizers: the Harmonic Tone Generator). Sever Tipei was writing his own stochastic composition software, and John Melby was using FORTRAN to manipulate/generate scores for Music 360 (the predecessor to C Sound). And in an abandoned World-War II radar research loft perched atop the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory (home of PLATO), Lippold Haken and Kurt Hebel were designing their own digital synthesizer (the IMS) that eventually evolved into a microcodable DSP (prior to the advent of the first Motorola 56000 DSP chip). The CERL Sound Group's LIME software was among the first music notation/printing programs; I saw it demonstrated at the annual Engineering Open House and asked if I could use it to print the score for my dissertation piece Lysogeny.
I practically begged Scott Wyatt to let me work as his graduate assistant in the Experimental Music Studios and, thanks to Scott, Nelson Mandrell and I had an opportunity to help build a studio: Studio D (at that time, the Synclavier Studio, now the studio where Kyma is installed), as well as experience the Buchla voltage controlled synthesizer and the joy of cutting & splicing tape. All of these experiences plus my explorations of Music 360, PLACOMP, and the CERL Sound Group's IMS and Platypus microcode, fed into the creation of Kyma. When my adviser John Melby won a Guggenheim award and took a year's leave of absence, I had the opportunity, as a visiting assistant professor, to teach his computer music course and to establish a Friday seminar series on computer music research.
Because the School of Music is part of a world-class university, Illinois afforded me opportunities for study and research that I would not have found elsewhere. It meant that I could play harp in the pit orchestra for an Opera Theatre production of Madame Butterfly and, the next day, run an experiment in Tino Trahiotis' psychoacoustics lab course in my minor, Speech and Hearing Science. It meant that I could go on tour with the New Music Ensemble led by Paul Zonn or David Liptak, that I could study mathematics, that I could do spectral analyses of the harp, that I could also get a degree in computer science and learn Smalltalk from Ralph Johnson after finishing my doctorate in music, and it meant that I could do some of the early work in data sonification with Alan Craig at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. These experiences, along with the computer science courses in abstract data structures, computer languages, automata, and discrete mathematics, also fed into Kyma.
For me, Illinois was the perfect environment for exploration, and my work with Kyma is a direct outgrowth of those experiences as well as a continuation of several threads of interest that can be traced back to my graduate work at the University of Illinois.
While I was a graduate assistant, my office mates were Chuck Mason and Paul Koonce; the day that Chuck defended his dissertation and accepted a position in Birmingham, he taped a piece of notebook paper to the wall of our office with the heading "Famous Inhabitants of this Office" followed by all three of our names. I remember this act of optimism with great fondness, and I've heard that the list is still in the office (and that it has grown a lot longer by now)
Carla Scaletti, DMA in composition, University of Illinios
President, Symbolic Sound Corporation
This began as a little chore that I was glad to do, but putting off. But as the paragraphs got longer and longer, and I tried to pare them down, it's become a reminder of what an important influence my tenure at UIUC was. It is who I am now. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
First, it was the concerts (esp. Here and Now) and visiting artists. Even now, many times a semester, I can punctuate a lecture with a personal anecdote, describing the real reactions of real people when my colleagues and I were exposed to an unusual and experimental style. I just finished a lecture on microtonality. Asked if I'd ever heard, or talked to microtonal performers, I was able to give three examples from U of I. I clearly remember a lecture by Milton Babbitt, feeling as though I was sitting in the center of the universe. When I describe his music I can embellish that with personal impressions. I can give many, many examples.
Second, and I was going to leave this off, but I remember how much I enjoyed the diversity of campus life, and the training I received as a graduate assistant in proper classroom demeanor has saved me in many situations.
Third, the variety of eccentric, opinionated, but professional faculty. I tried to study with each one. Similarly, I still use what they taught, nearly every day. I quote Von Gunden (who was instrumental in my receiving a campus wide teaching award) on microtonality, conceptual music, and theory instruction, putting into practice her techniques in class today. Every semester I use "my next piece, which I have not yet learned to like," (BrÃ¼n front of theory, composition, and music appreciation students. My texts for SuperCollider have several pages on the aesthetics of computer music, culled from the philosophies of Sever Tepie. I channel Scott Wyatt's critical ear when offering advice for electronic compositions (I actually imagine what he would say). John Garvey (many, many stories) solidified my attitudes about performance practice and recording techniques, on which I've built a reputation as a "zen" audio engineer.
And of course, UIUC is where I discovered computer music; not only a crucial turning point for me, my specialty now, but a lesson in life. When counseling young composition students, I share this fact: I was halfway through a doctorate before I figured out what my specialty was. They describe what they want to do with music and I remind them what they end up doing may not even exist. U of I had the equipment, the resources, and most importantly, fostered the attitudes that led me to the most important tool in my professional career.
Michael Cottle, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
"(David) Michael Cottle"
Professor of Music Theory and Music Technology
University of Utah
Scott- I just received my copies of the UIUC 50th Anniversary CD set. WOW! A super-charged four-CD set! Just reading the composers' names is an incredible statement. I am deeply honored to be included on this compilation, proud of my music association with the UIUC Experimental Music Studios, and still thankful and grateful for all I learned from you. You remain one of the best teachers I have ever encountered, and as these years roll on you have remained a true friend and generous source of support. So ... thanks, Scott, for all you have done!
I studied at UIUC between 1982-1985, then left to begin adjunct gigs and finally completed my DMA in 1990. I loved working in the 5th floor Experimental Music Studios, and my favorite studio was the analog studio with the beautiful Buchla synthesizer and the colorful patch cables. That machine really made sense: everything was where it should be, and the process of physically connecting audio and control signals (different cables and connections for different functions) was physically engaging as well as mentally stimulating. It was a wonderful composing environment. Years later, I was sad when Scott told me that he was finally taking that venerable machine out of service. I knew it had to eventually happen, but I wished it would never come to pass.
I made true and lasting friendships with my fellow graduate students in those studios, friends who remain close to this today. I learned so many things about music and performance art, and I still reference those central issues today in my work. EMS had a grand history even in the 1980s, and I am honored to still be a small part of its continuing adventure.
Brian Belet, DMA in composition, University of Illinois
Director, Center for Research in Electro-Acoustic Music
Coordinator, Music Systems & Theory Area
School of Music and Dance
San Jose State University
I came to UIUC in the fall of 1985 to work on my PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering under the direction of Jim Beauchamp. My NSF Graduate Fellowship would have supported my work at any university, but I specifically chose UIUC due to my interest in electronic and computer music. At that time and still today, UIUC has a unique combination of creative researchers working together to develop innovative music technology and music composition. I note that my arrival was around the 25th anniversary of EMS, and it is hard for me to contemplate that another quarter century has now passed by!
Although I was an ECE student, my "office" was the Computer Music Project facility on the fifth floor of the Music Building. The majority of my student friends and colleagues from those days were music students affiliated with the Electronic Music Studios. I was particularly fortunate to be accepted into the EMS courses taught by Scott Wyatt, and also an informal computer music seminar taught by John Melby. I recall my experience learning to splice half-track stereo tape, working with the Roland, Buchla, and Moog modules in Studio A, carrying 9-track digital tapes over to the computer center for conversion, and figuring out how to combine computer processing with analog systems into a meaningful composition. The acceptance and support of the music composition students was wonderful, and I have fond memories of attending composition seminars and recitals, Herbert Brun's "house theater" events, visits by computer music luminaries from around the world, and hosting the International Computer Music Conference in 1987.
Upon my arrival in 1985, Jim Beauchamp had just received a multi-user LMC workstation running Unix for the Computer Music Project, and shortly thereafter installed the Sound Conversion and Storage System (SCSS), designed and built by Kurt Hebel and the team from the UIUC CERL music group on campus. Kurt was also a PhD candidate in ECE, as was CERL's Lippold Haken. Both Kurt and Lippold have gone on to become influential experts in computer music technology, and I particularly enjoy running into them at Audio Engineering Society conventions and other venues. Besides myself, Jim Beauchamp had other students working on a variety of projects for musical signal analysis and data display, and the M4C computer music composition language was well underway, too. Meanwhile, George Gaspar, the CMP technician, was busy wiring the studio and installing equipment, and Sever Tipei was getting started on several projects involving computation and music notation. IBM was also supporting work at CMP, and in 1986 the "Project EXCEL" grants provided a shiny new IBM PC-AT computer with professional graphics and a big IBM PC-RT multi-user workstation music composition and analysis research. It was a spectacularly good time to be involved with the studios, and I feel lucky to have been around at that time.
My ECE doctoral dissertation involved the application of signal processing techniques to separate monophonic recordings of musical duets. Scott Wyatt was among my committee members, again emphasizing the cross-disciplinary support provided by the "community" of the Experimental Music Studios.
Since leaving UIUC in 1989, my entire career has followed a trajectory put in place by the Computer Music Project and the Experimental Music Studios. My research continues to be in the field of audio engineering and acoustics, and I've had the opportunity to work both in academia and as an entrepreneur in industry, taking advantage of the cross-disciplinary skills and insights taught to me by Jim Beauchamp, Scott Wyatt, Jack Melby, Sever Tipei, and my many student friends and colleagues.
Congratulations on the 50th anniversary celebration! UIUC EMS is a world-renowned gem, and I look forward to the ongoing accomplishments in the decades ahead!
Robert C. (Rob) Maher, Ph.D. in ECE, University of Illinois
Department Head, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Montana State University-Bozeman