Mathews, Max Vernon

Mathews, Max Vernon,

1926–2011, American engineer known as the father of computer music, b. Columbus, Nebr., grad. California Institute of Technology (B.S., 1950), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D., 1954). At New Jersey's Bell Labs in 1957, Mathews wrote the first computer program, called Music, that allowed a computer to generate a sound (a 17-second composition he created) and play it back. In later years Mathews created other, more sophisticated versions; he also wrote Groove, the first computer program made for live performance, and developed the Radio Baton, two drumsticklike wands that controlled the speed and sound levels of digitized orchestral music. Mathews collaborated with composers Edgard VarèseVarèse, Edgard
, 1883–1965, French-American composer. In Paris he first studied mathematics and science but became more interested in music. He then studied composition with Roussel and D'Indy at the Schola Cantorum and with Widor at the Conservatory.
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 and John CageCage, John,
1912–92, American composer, b. Los Angeles. A leading figure in the musical avant-garde from the late 1930s, he attended Pomona College and later studied with Arnold Schoenberg, Adolph Weiss, and Henry Cowell.
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, and helped Pierre BoulezBoulez, Pierre
, 1925–2016, French conductor and composer of modernist classical music. He studied at the Paris Conservatory with Olivier Messiaen (1944–45) and studied twelve-tone technique with René Leibowitz (1946).
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 create his computer-music research center in Paris. From 1962 to 1985 Mathews was director of the Bell Labs Acoustical and Behavioral Research Center, and later was a professor of music at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford.