FM synthesis pioneer John Chowning will deliver the Heyser Memorial Lecture Realizing a Dream, a Discovery and Lissajous Figures at the AES Show Fall 2020 Convention, expounding on his 50-plus years of research on audio spatialisation techniques and applications, as well as his inspirations and favourite discoveries over his career.

John Chowning to deliver Heyser Memorial LectureFollowing critical breakthroughs in sound localisation and spatialisation, inspiration from composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and the acoustic and perceptual research of Jean-Claude Risset, Chowning went on to design the FM synthesis algorithm in 1967. The following year he went on to program the first generalised surround sound localisation algorithm, which he further developed while at Stanford University, where he taught computer-sound synthesis and composition at the University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) from 1964 until 1996.

Stanford patented and licenced the algorithm to Yamaha in 1973, where it became the most successful synthesis engine in the history of electroacoustic instruments, used the Yamaha DX-7 and other popular instruments and processors. Since his retirement, Chowning has continued his research related to his own musical compositions.

‘While studying music in Paris in 1959, I heard electronic music composed for four loudspeakers surrounding the audience – what today we refer to as “quad”. One of the compositions I heard or heard about was Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kontakte, in which he created sounds that moved around the audience,’ Chowning says. ‘He fixed four microphones at the corners of a square table with his electronic sounds emitting from a rotating loudspeaker at the table’s centre to produce this effect. Struck by the feeling of space in this quad format, I imagined composing sounds that could move freely in more complicated paths, changing in azimuth and distance as an addition to the traditional parameters of music – pitch, loudness, and timbre.’

Creating music for playback on loudspeakers became a fascination for Chowning, with further inspiration coming from a paper from Science, The Digital Computer as a Musical Instrument by Max Mathews, and the realisation of spectrally complex stereo imaging on LP phonograph recordings. In 1964, Chowning worked with computer-based sound creation with a goal of developing music in a quadraphonic sound space.

His talk will follow his progression of discovery, including the role of reverberation in the process. He will conclude by answering the question: ‘Why do Lissajous figures (named after the 19th century French physicist) have anything to do with moving sound sources?’ through sharing what he says are ‘convincing sound synchronous animations that demonstrate their [Lissajous figures] improbable association with spatialisation.’

This AES Show Special Event will take place on 27, October at 1pm EDT.

More: www.AESShow.com

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