Experimental Music Studio (1958-present) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Experimental Music Studio (1958-present)

Historical 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.

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