Fifty years ago, in 1957, at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Max Mathews demonstrated that the digital computer can be used as a fantastic new music instrument. He created a revolutionary software platform destined to form the basis of all contemporary digital musical systems (Music 1–Music 5).
His audacious ideas were driven by the belief that "any sound that the human ear can hear can be produced by a computer". Mathews's mastery of this new instrument revealed new musical horizons and sparked a burgeoning curiosity into the very nature of sound. His comprehension and elaboration made five decades of art and research possible, laying the groundwork for generations of electronic musicians to synthesize, record, and play music.
Today at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) as a Professor Emeritus he continues not only to educate students and colleagues, but also to guide and inspire with his constant inventiveness and pure musical pleasure.
Join us in honoring Max for two evenings of sound, celebration and discovery of his ideas, works, music, and writings.
Max was the director of of the Acoustical and Behavioral Research Center at Bell Labs from 1962 to 1985, and thus my boss from 1975 to 1985. His interests in music — digital and otherwise — interacted in a joyous and fruitful way with the work that he supervised in speech and image coding, speech recognition and synthesis, psychology (perceptual, cognitive, and social), and many other areas.