Celebrating 50 Years of Music and Technology at MIT

February 5, 2011 / 9:00am – 10:00pm
MIT Media Lab E14


A full day and evening at MIT’s new Media Lab Complex celebrated the Institute’s unique tradition and future plans at the convergence of music, science and engineering. Curated by Professors Joseph Paradiso and Tod Machover, this lively event wove together discussions, demonstrations and performances to showcase the astounding variety of “future music” work at MIT, from audio innovations to synthetic performers, from sensors and interfaces to theories of musical mind and emotion, from hypercellos for Yo-Yo Ma to GuitarHero. Participants included Max Mathews (called “the father of computer music”), Miller Puckette (inventor of MAX/MSP), Eran Egozy (co-founder of Harmonix), Emeritus Professors Marvin Minsky and Barry Vercoe, and many others.  It even included an imaginative concert featuring surprising, stimulating music by Machover, Makan, Rowe, Ziporyn and others.

Keynote with Max Mathews, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University.

The Dawn of Digital Music at MIT in the 1960s. Prof. Joe Paradiso, Moderator; Peter Sampson, Wayne Slawson and Chris Strangio.

The MIT Experimental Music Studio and Live Computer Performance. Barry Vercoe, MIT, and Miller Puckette, UCSD, inventor of MAX/MSP.

Music, Emotion and Health. Prof. Tod Machover, moderator; Robert Rowe (NYU), Mary Farbood (NYU), Adam Boulanger (MIT Media Lab), Gottfried Schlaug (Harvard Medical School).

Music, Mind and Meaning. Prof. Marvin Minsky in “musical” conversation with Teresa Marrin, Mary Farbood and Mike Hawley.

Music, Emotion and Health. Prof. Tod Machover, moderator; Robert Rowe (NYU), Mary Farbood (NYU), Adam Boulanger (MIT Media Lab), Gottfried Schlaug (Harvard Medical School).

From Prototypes to the Populace: MIT Spinoffs in Music and Technology. Scott Kirsner, Boston Globe, moderator; Eran Egozy (co-founder of Harmonx and co-inventor of Guitar Hero), Brian Whitman (Echo Nest), Mark Ethier (iZotope).

Demos, installations, performances
Andrew McPherson (Drexel University), Magnetic Resonator Piano
Joseph Paradiso (MIT Media Lab) Mammoth Modular Synthesizer
Minsky MUSE Synthesizer, the only working model of 1960s automated composition generating machine
Rob Morris (MIT Media Lab), iPhone Guitar
Harmonix-Rock Band 3 with new Fender Squier and Mustang Guitar Controllers
Miller Puckette (UCSD), latest and greatest MAX/MSP and pd extensions/demos
Adam Boulanger (MIT Media Lab), Musica Early Detection System for Alzheimer’s disease
Echo Nest demo
iZotope demo
Sourcetone demo

Berry Vercoe, Synapse (1976) for amplified viola and prerecorded electronics
Richard Boulanger/Vercoe, Synaptogenesis (Synapse remix, 2011) for live electronics
Keeril Makan, Zones d’Accord (2002) for cello solo, acoustic based on electronics
Peter Whincop, Asyndenton (2011) for live electronics
Evan Ziporyn, Belle Labs (2006) for violin, bass clarinet and Heliphon, from Ensemble Robot
Robert Rowe, Cigar Smoke (2004) for clarinet and interactive electronics
Mary Farbood, Gray Light (2011) for piano, composed with Hyperscore software
Tod Machover, Spheres and Splinters (2010) for hypercello and interactive visuals




Tod Machover

Tod Machover, Chair of the FAST Steering Committee
Co-curator of Music Machines Exploration and Celebration
February 5, 2011 Professor of Music and Media at MIT Media Lab since its founding in 1985, Tod Machover has been described as “America’s Most Wired Composer” by the Los Angeles Times. His music, which includes several operas in addition to Death and the Powers, has been acclaimed for breaking traditional artistic and cultural boundaries, offering a unique and innovative synthesis of acoustic and electronic sound. Machover is the inventor of many new technologies for music, most notably his hyperinstruments, which use smart computers to augment musical expression and creativity. He has designed these instruments for some of the world’s greatest musicians, from Yo-Yo Ma to Prince, as well as for the general public and for children. His latest opera, Death and the Powers, will receive its U.S. premiere March 18 – 25 at Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theater, presented by the American Repertory Theater.



Joseph Paradiso

Joseph Paradiso, Co-curator of the Music Machines Exploration and Celebration
February 5, 2011Joseph Paradiso is Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, and director of the Responsive Environments group in the Media Lab. In addition, he co-directs the Things That Think Consortium, which explores the extreme fringe of embedded computation, communication, and sensing. A high-energy physicist, he joined the Media Lab in 1994 after several years conducting research at CERN, the Draper Laboratory, and the Superconducting Supercollider. In addition to his academic interests, Paradiso has been designing electronic music synthesizers and composing electronic music since 1975, and has long been active in the avant-garde music scene as a producer of electronic music programs for non-commercial radio. He has designed and built one of the world’s largest modular synthesizers, and has designed MIDI systems for internationally known musicians such as Pat Metheney and Lyle Mays.