Author: Jonathan Manton

SDR Deposit of the Week: Oral history interview with John Chowning

On September 2nd, 2015, I had the great privilege of conducting an oral history interview with John Chowning, Professor Emeritus at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Chowning, a pioneer in the world of computer music, is perhaps best known as the inventor of Frequency Modulation (FM) synthesis. His discovery was eventually licensed to Yamaha who integrated it into a number of instruments, most importantly, the DX7, the world’s first mass-produced digital synthesizer, released in 1983. The DX7 is generally regarded as one of the most important musical instrument inventions of the past 50 years, and was widely adopted by artists across multiple genres in the 1980s. My interview with Chowning is now available via the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). Chowning and I principally sat down to discuss Leon Theremin’s visit to Stanford in 1991, which Chowning organized and oversaw. Stanford University Libraries recently digitize video footage of this visit which included a day long symposium at CCRMA and an evening concert in Frost Amphiteatre at which Theremin, Max Mathews, and many other notable figures from the world of electronic and computer music at the time performed. However, Professor Chowning and I also discussed additional topics including Chowning’s background in computer music, his history at Stanford and the inception of CCRMA, and his close personal and professional relationship with Max Mathews. 

SDR Deposit of the Week: Sounds of Stanford and the Bay Area

The Archive of Recorded Sound (ARS) recently took an active role in two courses during the spring semester, one in the Stanford Music Department and the other in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, to encourage students to deposit their final projects into the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). The purpose of working with these courses was primarily to introduce students to the SDR and its many benefits, and to walk them through the process of using the SDR’s self-deposit tool. This instruction was backed up by customized online screencasts that guided students through the deposit process for the particular sets of materials within their projects. The rate of deposit for both courses was extremely high as the professors in each case elected to make the deposit of final projects into the SDR a mandatory part of the courses’ requirements.