Thursday, September 30, 1999


I appeared (non-musically) at an historic side trip during the 107th Audio Engineering Society convention in New York on Saturday, September 25, 1999. This was a bus trip for convention attendees to the Columbia University Computer Music Center. The CUCMC used to be known as the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. Since the 1950s the center has been one of the premier locations for the development of electronic music in the United States. Many well-known pioneers of the electronic music arts either studied or taught there including Milton Babbitt, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Alice Shields, Wendy Carlos, Pril Smiley, Robert Moog and many, many others. (No, I didn't study there, but the place has exerted an influence on me).

The centerpiece from my perspective as a technical historian (my other life) is the huge, room-size, vacuum tube RCA Sound Synthesizer Mark II. The sound generating and manipulating functions of this machine anticipated many of the facilities taken for granted years later on analog synthesizers. During AES, the present day staff at CUCMC gave tours of the facility showing off the RCA and some of the other archeological gems of electronic music technology that they still have.

In front of a section of the RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer, August ,1999.