History[ edit ] By the midth century, frequency modulation FM , a means of carrying sound, had been understood for decades and was being used to broadcast radio transmissions. Patent 4,,  is actually based on phase modulation , but the results end up being equivalent mathematically as both are essentially a special case of QAM. Several other models by Yamaha provided variations and evolutions of FM synthesis during that decade. Casio developed a related form of synthesis called phase distortion synthesis , used in its CZ range of synthesizers.
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Photo courtesy Histeria. Although its name is reasonably well known in the UK, I suspect that few people on this side of the pond know precisely what the Berklee College of Music is, or what it does.
Founded in , Berklee was the first school in the USA to teach the popular music of the day jazz and, in , was perhaps the first to recognise the electric guitar as a serious instrument. No doubt an affront to the conservatives of the music world, the college also has two record labels that promote its rock, pop and jazz musicians, runs a major in music therapy, and includes hip-hop within its curriculum.
More recently, in , Berklee opened a campus in Valencia Spain, not California , and in June , the Valencia campus inaugurated the Vox Festival to celebrate the marriage of music and technology.
Sound On Sound readers will know Chowning as the discoverer of FM synthesis, but he is also a renowned pioneer in the field of electronic music, and both his musical and technical achievements extended well beyond his most famous work. We began by discussing the early days of electronic music and some of the systems that were used for developing it. We started using it in , and finally shut it down when Apple developed their Unix system based on the Motorola processor.
The way in which digital music was created at that time was a far cry from the modern world. Once those files were written, the music — four channels of audio with integrated reverberation — could be produced in real time and recorded to analogue tape.
The Box then became available to the next user in the queue. Running it as an assignable device like a computer printer avoided the problems that would have occurred if we had run it in a studio in which one user could tie it up for hours on end. So we have to manage aspects of the modern technology so that the listener still hears what the composer intended. This helped to propel the Next into the mainstream of the computer music world for a while.
There was a noticeable difference in the way people worked back then. The idea of careful calculation in composition has now become much less important because the cost of a mistake is negligible, whereas the cost of synthesis on a big time-shared computer, and therefore the cost of a mistake, could be enormous. So the amount of care one applied to the building of ideas was very much greater in the past, and there was probably something lost when we moved to real-time computation.
It was a very rich experience for me. I love working on a piece. The fact that the result was music made it a deeply passionate endeavour.
I was working on spatialisation, so I needed sounds that would localise, sounds that had some form of dynamism so that they could be distinguished from the reverberant field. Pitch-modulation seemed to be the most salient feature of the sound that would allow me to do that, so experimenting with vibrato was an obvious thing to do, and I just kept going until I realised that I was no longer hearing changes in the time domain, but rather I was hearing changes in the frequency domain.
So everything in my work has been driven by my ear to a musical end. Mathews was far ahead of his time, if only because he realised that, unlike the analogue signal generators of the time, computer-generated audio could be consistent and controllable.
At the same time, Chowning was researching the localisation of sounds and applying vibrato to the signals generated by his digital oscillators. Apocrypha has it that he accidentally programmed a modulation that was larger and faster than he had intended, and discovered that the result was not vibrato, but a new tone unlike anything he had heard before.
Apparently, Chowning was unaware that he had stumbled across a technique used to broadcast radio transmissions and, by modulating a signal in the audio band, he was the first person to hear what we now call FM synthesis.
How do you think Hammond and Wurlitzer now feel, knowing that they turned down FM? So Stanford contacted the Californian office of a well-known Japanese manufacturer of motorbikes, powerboat engines and construction equipment.
Consequently, the company negotiated a one-year licence that it believed would be sufficient to enable it to decide whether the technology was commercially viable. Meanwhile, Chowning had been working on MUSIC 10 yet another version, this time for the PDP10 , but Stanford failed to see the value of this and, after a parting of the ways, Chowning moved to Europe to continue his research.
This later proved to be a significant embarrassment to the university because, when Yamaha approached it to negotiate an exclusive commercial licence for FM, Chowning was no longer a member of the faculty. Happily, Stanford knew when to eat humble pie, and reinstated Chowning as a Research Associate at the Center for Computer Research and Musical Acoustics that he had helped found.
Chowning then assigned the rights in FM to the university, which duly agreed a licence with Yamaha. He was suffering hearing problems and realised that he could no longer be an effective critical listener for his students. Interestingly, he admits that this occurred organically rather than as the result of a long-term plan. So when I needed engineers, when I needed computer science skills, when I needed knowledge about the auditory system and how the brain processes music, I found people who could guide me and teach me.
As a result, you can now take courses in which computer science is combined with subjects such as classics, or medicine, or music or history. The CS element teaches the student how to deal with large amounts of data and how to apply processing skills within the traditional fields and, as a consequence, the other departments are beginning to flourish again, and are doing things that are new and surprising both to the faculty and to the students.
I asked him whether he felt that these were relevant to a young audience that may have been more likely to know the music of Nick Cave than that of John Cage. He talked about the history of computing as it relates to music, and described a lot of the areas of his research — not just conventional FM synthesis, but using FM for modelling formants, and things such as locating sounds in a virtual space.
It was really cool! Photo: Histeria ensemble last year to explore these ideas in an environment that also teaches students programming skills. These devices were networked together, and the timings were controlled by a Web application that told each person when to sing the next phrase.
The early paradigm for computer-based games was to take a piece of music and loop it. So you devise new ways to get the most mileage out of sounds. For example, if you can take a sound and play it at different pitches or combine it with other layers you can generate music that lasts a lot longer and remains more interesting.
This piece is a bunch of different cells, and you can play them in any order. But when you play any one of the cells for the third time, the piece ends. Stockhausen realised that this was invisible to the audience so, as far as they were concerned, he might as well have scored each performance as a different but conventionally linear piece of music.
So he suggested that the piece should be performed multiple times in each concert programme, allowing people to appreciate the concept and the variations that occurred from performance to performance. It was a ridiculous request — although far from the most ridiculous he ever made! It was a solution looking for a problem. Much later, I realised that this is one solution to the problem in video games, where we need music that can generate different variations of itself in different contexts, and respond to different types of events in different ways.
Why would a music college from the East Coast of the USA want to set up the home of its first masters programmes in a coastal city just across the water from Ibiza? Education is now a kind of a franchise; New York University has an official campus in Abu Dhabi as well as the one in China, and I guess that reflects the increasingly global nature of education.
Some years ago, Berklee decided that it wanted to have a physical presence in Europe, and I think that Spain was chosen in part because of its language, which links it to Latin and South America. This is important because we have a lot of students that come from that part of the world. The campus started with three programmes: contemporary performance, global entertainment and music business GEMB , and scoring for film and TV and video games.
A year later it added a fourth — music production technology and innovation MPTI — and, although most of my career has been involved with developing audio for video games, I was brought over from Boston to help get the MPTI programme off the ground. The College has taken a sizeable part of a building that also includes a concert hall and large film-scoring spaces, and the facility itself is extremely well done; the sound rooms, the equipment and the isolation are all first-class.
Its graduates should be quite at home walking into any recording or sound-design studio. But more than that, it was fun, a real passion project, and it was really cool to bring John back to Valencia, and have a good party. If we do it, who knows what might happen?
Frequency modulation synthesis
Photo courtesy Histeria. Although its name is reasonably well known in the UK, I suspect that few people on this side of the pond know precisely what the Berklee College of Music is, or what it does. Founded in , Berklee was the first school in the USA to teach the popular music of the day jazz and, in , was perhaps the first to recognise the electric guitar as a serious instrument. No doubt an affront to the conservatives of the music world, the college also has two record labels that promote its rock, pop and jazz musicians, runs a major in music therapy, and includes hip-hop within its curriculum. More recently, in , Berklee opened a campus in Valencia Spain, not California , and in June , the Valencia campus inaugurated the Vox Festival to celebrate the marriage of music and technology.
CHOWNING FM PDF
Goll These techniques are the subject of this module. The Simulation of Moving Sound Sources. Physical musical instruments produce audio spectra that evolve with time. Previous post Love chowjing electronic music, more than ever. The prototype waveforms are normalized in both dimensions, i.