Cambridge... On Friday, May 21, 1999 at 8pm, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Laboratory will host Digital Rewind, a concert featuring important works of experimental computer music, in commemoration of the founding of MIT's Experimental Music Studio (EMS) 25 years ago. The free concert at Kresge Auditorium (48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge) will conclude an international symposium honoring the contributions of the composers and music researchers associated with this renowned institution. The evening's performances will include two world premiere pieces, a reworking of "At Last ... Free" for Max Matthews' Radio Baton by Richard Boulanger and an interactive rendition of "Synapse" for viola and computer by Barry Vercoe. Information: 617-253-2727 or

Known as one of the most innovative research facilities in the field of experimental music, the EMS contributed several seminal compositions to the genre of Computer Music, some of which will be performed at the May 21 concert. The concert will include works by internationally recognized composers who worked at the EMS: William Albright, Elliot Balaban, Richard Boulanger, MIT Professor Peter Child, James Dashow, Mario Davidovsky, MIT Associate Professor Tod Machover, Jean Claude Risset, and MIT Professor Barry Vercoe. The performance will also feature some of the most celebrated musicians in experimental music including members of the Boston-based Collage New Music, MIT Professor Marcus Thompson (viola), David Horne (piano), Curtis Macomber (violin). Examples of the technology developed at the EMS and the Media Lab will be on exhibit in Kresge's lobby before the performance. Doors to the exhibit will open at 7pm.

Both premieres on the concert program feature innovations in music technology. Barry Vercoe's work "Synapse", composed in 1976 for violist Marcus Thompson, treated both musician and computer synthesized accompaniment as equally salient musical entities. At the time the piece was written, technological limitations placed the burden of synchronization during performance on the musician. Now, modern digital processing techniques offer new, creative possibilities, and have enabled composers to incorporate real-time synchronization and genuine computer interaction into their compositions. In early 1999, Professor Vercoe revisited "Synapse" to explore the interactive potential of this important work.

Richard Boulanger's "At Last ... Free" features Max Matthews' Radio Baton, a device which tracks the motions of two conducting batons in three dimensional space. The position and movement of the batons are converted into MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) data which is sent to a computer that modifies a score in real time with the conductor's movements. In honor of the EMS 25th anniversary celebration, MIT commissioned Dr. Boulanger to re-work this exceptional composition.

About the Experimental Music Studio

Founded by Professor Barry Vercoe at MIT in 1973, the EMS was the first facility to have digital computers dedicated to full time research and composition of computer music. Committed to moving technology forward in artistic ways, the EMS hosted the first International Conference on Computer Music in 1976. During its first 12 years, the EMS was responsible for developing or advancing computer-based music technology such as real-time digital synthesis, live keyboard input, graphical score editing, synchronization between natural and synthetic sound in composition and advanced computer languages for music composition. The prevailing musical aesthetic at the EMS encouraged explorations into the interaction between live performers and computer accompanists. In 1985, Professor Vercoe became one of the founding faculty members of MIT's Media Laboratory. He moved his studio facilities into the new building where experimental music and computer music research became firmly ingrained in the new Media Arts curriculum.

About Barry Vercoe

Widely respected as a composer, educator, and software developer, EMS founder Barry Vercoe is best known for his contributions to computer music technology. He is the inventor of several computer languages for digital music synthesis which have been used by thousands of composers around the world.

At the Media Laboratory, Professor Vercoe has directed research groups on Music and Cognition, Synthetic Listeners and Performers, and Machine Listening. His own research interests span music theory, signal processing, music perception and audio coding. His students from the EMS and the Media Laboratory have seeded the academic and industrial worlds of computer music and music technology. The contributions of the EMS and Professor Vercoe's continued research insure that technology will remain a tool in the hands of human artists.