Experimental Music Studios Records


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Studio Adminstrative Records

EMS Technical Reports

Audio and Audio Visual Recordings


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Finding Aid for Experimental Music Studios Records, 1924-2016 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

By Rachel Johannigmeier and David Luftig

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Collection Overview

Title: Experimental Music Studios Records, 1924-2016Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

ID: 12/5/70

Primary Creator: Experimental Music Studio (1958-present)

Extent: 37.6 cubic feet

Arrangement: Materials are arranged into four distinct series 1) Studio Historical Records, 2) EMS Technical Reports, 3) Audio and Visual Recordings, and 4) Equiptment. Series 1 is arranged chronologically by material type. Series 2 is arranged numerically by the assigned catalog number for each technical report. Series 3 is arranged into three separate sub-series: Sub-Series 1 "Cataloged Audio Recordings" consists of audio recordings that were arranged numerically by catalog number, which was created by Scott Wyatt, then Director of the EMS. The cataloging schema starts on number 5000 and ascends numerically, but does not correspond to the chronological date in which it was created; Sub-Series 2 "Non-Cataloged Audio Recordings" consists of audio recordings without an assigned catalog number and is arranged alphabetically by batch maintaining the original order of the tapes as they were found. [Note: Boxes 5, 14, and 19 are displayed first in this finding aid with each box arranged alphabetically. Following that, Boxes 21-27 are arranged alphabetically by batch, following original order]; Sub-Series 3 "Video Recordings" is arranged alphabetically. Series 4 is arranged chronologically.

Date Acquired: 02/17/2015. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Composition, Computer Music, Illiac Computers, Music, School of

Formats/Genres: Experimental Music

Languages: English, French, German, Polish

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Audio recordings, correspondences, technical reports, lecture notes, music manuscripts, photographic prints, film negatives, promotional publications, and newsclippings documenting the operations of the School of Music Experimental Music Studios (EMS). Included in these documents is information regarding subjects including computer-assisted composition, the ILLIAC digital computers, EMS equipment acquisition and maintenance, renovation of EMS facilities, and grant proposals. The technical reports cover information pertaining to the specifications and usage of audio equipment witin the EMS. Correspondances detail significant authors including: Lejaren Hiller, Herbert Brün, James Beauchamp, and Scott Wyatt.

This collection also consists of audio recordings of materials that were created both within the EMS and by composers not affiliated with the institution. The collection contains both recording masters and copies. The audio collection was originally intended to serve multiple purposes within the EMS including being used for pedagogical and research purposes, to archive the recordings that were created within the EMS, and to be utilized for live performances. The recordings that were not created within the EMS were donated through mail correspondences, through a composer's on-campus, or at various conferences.

Some of the notable recordings from within the audio collection includes the master recordings of Lejaren Hiller's Seven Electronic Studies and A Triptych For Hieronymus, Music by Computers by Various Composers (commercially released in 1969), Salvatore Martirano's Underworld (Performance Loops), and a demonstration tape of James Beauchamp's Harmonic Tone Generator.

Significant composers within the audio collection who the EMS include: Jon Appleton, James Beauchamp, Herbert Brün, Kenneth Gaburo, Lejaren Hiller, Ben Johnston, Paul Koonce, Salvatore Martirano, John Melby, Gordon Mumma, Harry Partch, and Scott Wyatt.

The audio collection also features many recordings originating from non-EMS affiliated composers. The collection is particularly strong in materials from the Polish Experimental Music Studio (featuring composers Bohdan Mazurek and Boguslaw Schaeffer).

Other significant recording studios prominently featured within this collection include: Bell Laboratories, Columbia-Princeton Music Center, Dartmouth College, Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio in Warsaw/Polskie Radio i Telewizja, Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (RTF), the University of Michigan, the University of Utrecht.

Many of the tape cases from these external institutions were custom made or have institutional markings and documentation on them.

Within the audio tape collection, sixty-one of the tapes have additional documents in the tape cases. Such documents include composition and composer information, program notes, and correspondences originating from the composer.

Many of the recordings also utilize significant electronic and custom instruments. Significant electronic instruments utilized within these recordings include: the Bell Labs GROOVE Systems, the Buchla 200 synthesizer, The Harmonic Tone Generator, the Illiac, the Moog Modular Synthesizer, the RCA Mark II, the Sal-Mar Construction, the Synclavier, and the Theremin.

Although the EMS was founded in 1958, there are recordings in the collection that date back to 1924. These recordings are copies and were used within the EMS for research and pedagogical purposes.

Biographical Note

The University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios were founded in 1958 by Lejaren Hiller, Jr. and were arguably the first of their kind in the Western Hemisphere (the Columbia-Princeton Music Center officially opened around the same time). Faculty members and students working in these studios have been responsible for major developments in both electro-acoustic music and electronic music instruments (often in collaboration with the University of Illinois College of Engineering). Notable developments within the field of electro-acoustic music include: Lejaren Hiller's Illiac Suite (the first musical score composed by computer), Kenneth Gaburo's Lemon Drops (utilizing tape and locally created electronic instruments), and Salvatore Martirano's Underworld (utilizing Salvatore's unique hand-built synthesizer).

Notable electronic music instruments that were developed within the EMS and the University of Illinois include James Beauchamp's Harmonic Tone Generator (which was developed in 1964 and was one of the first voltage controlled instruments) and Salvatore Maritrano's Sal-Mar Construction (built ca. 1970 utilizing remaining circuit boards of the University's Illiac computer).

The EMS participated in multiple group and individual commercially released albums including Electronic Music From The University Of Illinois (Heliodor Records, 1967), Computer Music From The University Of Illinois (Heliodor/MGM Records 1967), and Music by Computers with accompanying book (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.1969). Albums from individual composers from within the EMS included Kenneth Gaburo's Music For Voices, Instruments & Electronic Sounds (Nonesuch Reccords, 1968), Salvatore Martirano's L's GA (Polydor Records, 1968), and Lejaren Hiller and John Melby's Computer Music (CRI Records, 1973). The EMS also created its own record label (EMS) which it used to release LPs and CDs from the 1970s through the 1990s.

As of 2017, the facility continues as an active and productive center for electro-acoustic and computer music composition, education and research.

Subject/Index Terms

Computer Music
Illiac Computers
Music, School of

Administrative Information

Repository: The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music


Three historic sound recording devices transferred from EMS by Scott Wyatt on June 1, 2016. Four hundred and seventy six audio and visual recordings along with fifty-four historic documents were transferred from the EMS by Eli Fieldsteel on December 12, 2016. This accession comprised of twenty-six cubic feet of materials.

The SONY MCI (Music Center Incorporated) JH-110 Tape Machine, two dbx 180 Type I Noise Reducation Systems and SONY MCI Audio Location III System with audio cables were transferred to from the Experimental Music Studio on January 4, 2019 by Eli Fieldsteel.

Additional materials including photographs, programs, articles, correspondence, and a flexi-disc was added on February 20, 2024.

Acquisition Source: Scott Wyatt and Eli Fieldsteel, Experimental Music Studios

Related Materials:

Scott Wyatt Personal Papers and Sound Recordings, 1961-2017. Series Number: 12/5/73

James W Beauchamp Harmonic Tone Generator and Papers, 1963-1966. Series Number: 12/5/69

Kenneth Gaburo Papers, 1936, 1945-1993. Series Number: 12/5/33

Michael Manion Music and Papers, 1965-2008. Manion served as Assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen. Series Number: 26/20/188

Salvatore Martirano Music, Personal Papers, and Sal-Mar Construction, 1927-1999. Series Number: 12/5/42

Harry Partch Estate Archive, 1918-1991. Series Number: 12/5/45

In addition for further information about other Lejaren Hiller sound recordings and personal papers please visit the University at Buffalo's Lejaren Hiller Papers.

For more information please see https://research.lib.buffalo.edu/hiller.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Studio Adminstrative Records, 1952-2016],
[Series 2: EMS Technical Reports, 1961-1974],
[Series 3: Audio and Audio Visual Recordings, ca. 1924-2015],
[Series 4: Equipment, ca. 1940-1957],

Series 4: Equipment, ca. 1940-1957Add to your cart.
Item 1: Wilcox-Gay Recordio Phonograph, ca. 1940Add to your cart.
Recording head not included. Model 6A10. Serial number: 5462. Accession number: 2016-1205070-001.
Item 2: Webster-Chicago Model 80 Wire Recorder, ca. 1948Add to your cart.
Includes microphone, cabels, and two power cabels. Serial number: 53296. Accession number: 2016-1205070-002a and b.
Item 3: SONY MCI (Music Center Incorporated) JH-110C Tape Recorder, ca. 1970Add to your cart.
Also includes with two 180 Type I Noise Reducation Systems and SONY MCI Audio Location III System with audio cables.  Accession Number 2019.1205070.001.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Item 1: Timex Magnetic Disc Recorder, ca. 1954-1957Add to your cart.
Includes original uncut Type 40-3 recording discs. Microphone not included. Model 40-1. Accession number: 2016.1205070-003.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Studio Adminstrative Records, 1952-2016],
[Series 2: EMS Technical Reports, 1961-1974],
[Series 3: Audio and Audio Visual Recordings, ca. 1924-2015],
[Series 4: Equipment, ca. 1940-1957],

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