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From ScratchWritings in Music Theory$
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James Tenney, Larry Polansky, and Lauren Pratt

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038723

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038723.001.0001

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Computer Music Experiences, 1961–1964

Computer Music Experiences, 1961–1964


(p.97) Chapter 3 Computer Music Experiences, 1961–1964
From Scratch

James Tenney

, Larry Polansky, Lauren Pratt, Robert Wannamaker, Michael Winter
University of Illinois Press

James Tenney reflects on his experiences with computer music during the period 1961–1964. He recalls arriving at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in September 1961 with a number of what he calls musical and intellectual baggage, including various instrumental compositions reflecting the influence of Anton von Webern and Edgard Varèse; a dissatisfaction with all purely synthetic electronic music that he had heard up to that time, particularly with respect to timbre; and a growing interest in the work and ideas of John Cage. He left in March 1964 with six tape compositions of computer-generated sounds and a far better understanding of the physical basis of timbre, among others. Tenney goes on to discuss some of his compositions using computer-generated sounds, such as Analog #1: Noise Study, Four Stochastic Studies and Dialogue, Stochastic String Quartet, Ergodos I and Ergodos II, and Phases. He also describes his rise-time experiment on tone.

Keywords:   computer music, Bell Telephone Laboratories, James Tenney, composition, computer-generated sound, timbre, Four Stochastic Studies, Dialogue, Stochastic String Quartet, rise-time experiment

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