ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

3aMU1. Bits of perspective on the advent of digital music.

Michael Hawley

MIT Media Laboratory, 20 Ames St., Rm. E15-489, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

There has always been an interplay between musical tools and musical forms---a succession of instruments, from serpent horns to saxophones, and of styles, from chant to grand opera. All of this tends to echo aspects of the ambient technology infrastructure, for example, the rise of large buildings coincides to some extent with the breakup of Gregorian chant, and the development of steam engines and ironworks made possible the modern concert grand (and the globetrotting piano virtuoso). In much the same vein, broadcast and recorded media are associated with the wane of live concerts. This talk will discuss history and trends of music and technology. In particular, our culture is in the throes of a singular and massive transition from largely analog to largely digital media. The mass-deployment of MIDI and other computer-based music forms, and the diffusion of increasingly intelligent instruments, a symptom of that trend, has begun a drastic change that will lead...where?