Technosonics XVII: Transmission

Limitations of Computers as Musical Tools
October 23, 2016 - 1:00pm
Old Cabell Hall B011

The University of Virginia McIntire Department of Music presents TechnoSonics XVII, Thursday October 20th through Monday October 24th. 

Miller Puckette will be giving a colloquium on Sunday, October 23rd at 1:00pm in Old Cabell Hall Room B011 on the topic, "Limitations of Computers as Musical Tools". Theoretically, a computer can generate any sound that a loudspeaker can emit. But anyone who has tried to use a computer to realize a piece of music has learned that there is always a gulf between the desired outcome and what we cans actually get.  The problem is in part the still-primitive state of the software we use to get music out of computers.  Existing software paradigms such as DAWs, notation editors, and real-time performance systems are based on particular sets of assumptions about how music is or should be made.  A careful look at these assumptions, and the limitations they impose on our efforts to make better computer music software, offers some clues as to what we might want to try next.

Miller Puckette is known as the creator of the Max and Pure Data real-time computer music software environents, which are taught and used by electronic musicians and artists worldwide.  Originally a mathematician, he won the Putnam mathematics competition in 1979 and received a PhD from Harvard University in 1986.  He was a researcher at the MIT Media lab from its inception until 1986, then at IRCAM (Paris, France), and is now professor of music at the University of California, San Diego.  He has been a visiting professor at Columbia University and at the Technical University of Berlin.

Puckette performs with the Convolution Brothers and in a duo with Juliana Snapper, and has performed in concert music by composers Rand Steiger, Philippe Manoury, and Pierre Boulez, in venues including the Ojai Music festival, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Centre Acantes, and Carnegie Hall. He has been awarded two honorary degrees and the SEAMUS prize.

For the full Technosonics XVII: Transmission schedule click here.

TechnoSonics is an annual themed festival that showcases digital music and intermedia, and brings high profile outside performers and composers to collaborate with UVA composers and faculty performers. Produced by the the Composition and Computer Technologies Program in the Department of Music.

This year, the TechnoSonics Festival presents a series of concerts and broadcasts celebrating Transmission in music. The featured festival concerts in Old Cabell Hall and at the Second Street Gallery will feature electronic and computer music at UVA streamed live to the web.  This year’s theme of transmission facilitates community building with new and diverse populations.

TechnoSonics also welcomes guest artists Anna Friz, Miller Puckette, Shiau-uen Ding, and Susan Francher as well as our own performance faculty, the Albemarle Ensemble, the Rivanna String Quartet, and the Jazz Ensemble. 

Supported by the Office of the Provost and the Vice Provost for the Arts.

Old Cabell Hall is located on the south end of UVA's historic lawn, directly opposite the Rotunda (map). Parking is available in the Central Grounds parking garage on Emmet Street, in the C1 parking lot off McCormick Rd, and in the parking lots at the UVA Corner.  Handicap parking is available in the small parking lot adjacent to Bryan Hall.

All programs are subject to change.

The University of Virginia (UVA) Music Department ( has been a leader in music technology innovation for almost 100 years. The first Chair of the Music Department, Arthur Fickenscher was an electronic music instrument inventor who developed a new interface for musical expression called the Polytone. Fickensher joined the faculty of UVA in 1918 and became the Chair of Music in 1920 when the Department was formed. In 1967, UVA Professor Donald MacInnis, a student of Milton Babbitt and Vladimir Ussachevsky, created one of the first computer music languages, MUSIGOL, in consultation with Max Mathews at Bell Labs and UVa Engineering Faculty. In the 1970s the VEMS (Virginia Electronic Music Studio) supported work by students and faculty, resulting in UVA's first substantial contributions to electronic music composition. Founded in 1987 by Judith Shatin, the Virginia Center for Computer Music (VCCM), housed in Old Cabell Hall, ushered in a new focus on computer music for UVA.

Out of these innovations, the Composition and Computer Technologies (CCT) Program launched in 2002 along with the first Music Ph.D. in the state of Virginia. CCT is unique in its focus on a combined approach to composition and technological research. In addition, CCT draws on its sister UVA programs, the innovative Critical and Comparative Studies (CCS) program, and a diverse Performance program. Today, a team of UVA Music faculty including Judith Shatin, Matthew Burtner, Ted Coffey, Luke Dahl, Noel Lobley, Peter Bussigel and I-Jen Fang along with CCT Technical Director Travis Thatcher collaborate to build a unique climate of creative and technical research around composition and computer technologies.

Past TechnoSonics programs have included:

2015: TechnoSonics XVI: Music & Contemplation
2014: TechnoSonics XV: Found Sound Concerts with Joo Won Park & Annie Gosfield
2013: TechnoSonics XIV: Motion
2012: TechnoSonics XIII: Music and Politics, Featuring Guest Composers Mara Helmuth and Christopher Adler
2011: TechnoSonics XII: Light
2010: TechnoSonics XI: Mediated Nature
2009: TechnoSonics X: Building
2008: TechnoSonics 20 Years of "Play" Anniversary Tour


McIntire Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176