GEORGIA MUSIC EDUCATION – Music Machine Laurie Spiegel


Female Music Master Laurie Spiegel was born in Chicago (September 20, 1945) where in her teens she played guitar, banjo, and mandolin, and through them cultivated a devout philosophy of amateur music making. After receiving a degree in the social sciences, she returned to music. Having taught herself notation, she studied classic guitar and composition privately in London, then baroque and renaissance lute at Julliard, and composition with Jacob Druckman and Vincent Persichetti.

Having worked with analog synthesizers since 1969, she sought out the greater compositional control which digital computers could provide and wrote interactive compositional software at Bell Labs from 1973-79.


She later founded New York University’s Computer Music Studio, and became famous in rock music circles for her music software for personal computers, especially MusicMouse.
In the video below is one of the earliest examples of purely digital realtime audio synthesis. It manages to achieve an analog synth sounding quality, but it is entirely digital synthesis and signal processing.
The interactive software she wrote she is actually playing in this video below. The video recycles her keyboard input into an accompaniment to her continued playing, which is why she calls it a “concerto generator”.
She uses part of one of the keyboards for control data entry, and the small switches upper right to access pre-entered numerical patterns. The sliders are mainly pre-Yamaha FM synthesis parameter controls, for the number of harmonics and amplitude and frequency of the FM modulator and carrier that constituted each musical voice.


“Spiegel pinpoints a more pragmatic reason for why women might have found their way to electronics: the DIY aspects of the synthesizer enabled them to bypass a schlerotic system that made it challenging to get your compositions performed. “You could create something that was actually music you could play for people, whereas if you wrote an orchestral score on paper, you’d be stuck with going around a totally male-dominated circuit of orchestral conductors trying to get someone to even look at the score. It was just very liberating to be able to work directly with the sound, not just creating but presenting. Then you could play it to people, get your work taken up by a choreographer, or used to score a film. Or put out your own LP. You could get the music out to the ears of the public directly, without having to go through a male power establishment.” At the same time, the gender drum is not something  Spiegel particularly cares to bang. “The number of people making music with computers when I started was so small, every person was simply treated as an individual,” she insists. “I always felt like an outsider anyway, that was more important than being a woman. In a way I didn’t identify as a woman, I identified as an individual.” – PitchFork