25 June 2008

First electronic music

Listening to the Future Tense podcast on synthesized music. The first computer to play computer-generated music was CSIRAC (pronounced SIGH-rack) in 1950. No recording exists, but the BBC reports that the song played was Colonel Bogey March (written by F. J. Ricketts in 1915; I always hear Bart from The Simpsons when he sings: Lisa, her teeth are big and green. Lisa, she smells like gasoline. Lisa, ta-ra-ra Lisa. She is my sista, her birthday I mista.). The oldest recorded computer generated music, reported only a week or so ago, was created by the Ferranti Mark 1 in 1951. The songs were God Save the Queen/America (interesting, uncertain history that includes John Bull and Henry Purcell and that dastardly musica ficta), Baa Baa Black Sheep (originally a French melody from 1761 titled "Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman"), and In the Mood (written not by Glenn Miller but Wingy Manone in 1929). The next attempt was in 1957 with an IBM 704. This was unique in that it was a 17-second composition by programmer Max Mathews. In 1962, the same model of computer was used to perform a synthesized voice version of Daisy Bell (Harry Dacre, 1892), with Arthur C. Clarke in attendance (2001: A Space Odyssey, Hal 9000, yadda yadda...).

Create Digital Music has a nice article summarizing this timeline with additional facts, links, and YouTube-ery. Also, good details in the linked Wikipedia articles.

[ posted by sstrader on 25 June 2008 at 10:28:33 PM in Music ]