Richard Boulanger

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Richard Charles Boulanger
Born (1956-11-10) November 10, 1956 (age 66)
Fall River, Massachusetts, United States
Genres Electronic, Computer music
Occupation(s)Composer, musician, professor
Instrument(s)Synthesizer, guitar, trumpet, radio baton, controllers

Richard Charles Boulanger (born November 10, 1956) is a composer, author, and electronic musician. He is a key figure in the development of the audio programming language Csound, and is associated with computer music pioneers Max Mathews and Barry Vercoe.




After graduating from Somerset High School in 1974, [1] Boulanger attended New England Conservatory of Music as an undergraduate, where his thesis was a commission by Alan R. Pearlman [2] for the Newton Symphony titled "Three Soundscapes for Two Arp 2600 Synthesizers and Orchestra". [3] After pursuing a Master's in composition from Virginia Commonwealth University, where Allan Blank was amongst his professors, he obtained a PhD in computer music from the University of California, San Diego [4] where he worked at the Center for Music Experiment and Related Research. Boulanger continued his computer music research at Bell Labs, the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Interval Research, IBM, and One Laptop per Child. [5] In 1989, Boulanger became a Fulbright professor at the Academy of Music in Kraków, Poland. [3]

Boulanger's teachers include Pauline Oliveros, [6] Aaron Copland [ citation needed ], and Hugo Norden. [1]

Professional life

For me, music is a medium through which the inner spiritual essence of all things is revealed and shared. Compositionally, I am interested in extending the voice of the traditional performer through technological means to produce a music which connects with the past, lives in the present and speaks to the future. Educationally, I am interested in helping students see technology as the most powerful instrument for the exploration, discovery, and realization of their essential musical nature – their inner voice.

Richard Boulanger [7]

Boulanger started studying at the MIT Experimental Music Studion in 1979 with Barry Vercoe, [8] where he also worked with fellow computer musician John ffitch. [9] While working with Vercoe, Boulanger composed the first Csound composition, Trapped in Convert, which was originally written using MUSIC 11, the precursor to Csound. The piece was ported to Csound in 1986. [10] The same year, Boulanger's composition Three Chapters from the Book of Dreams‚ was awarded first prize in the NEWCOMP International Computer Music Competition. [11]

In 1990, Boulanger wrote the first vocal composition using the microtonal Bohlen–Pierce scale, [12] Solemn Song for Evening, [13] which also features a radio baton. His compositions have appeared on albums including iChamber (Centaur Records, 2003: Virtual Encounters) and Electro-Acoustic Music, Vol. 1 (Neuma, 1990: From Temporal Silence), and his interactive orchestral and chamber music compositions have been premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Seoul Opera House, and the Beijing Central Conservatory. Boulanger's Radio Baton and PowerGlove Concerto was premiered by the Krakow and Moscow Symphonies. [5] [14]

The Csound-based iOS apps csGrain, csSpectral, and csJam were developed by Boulanger's company Boulanger Labs, [15] which also published MUSE, an app for the Leap Motion controller developed in collaboration with BT. Boulanger later composed a concerto for strings and horns with himself as a MUSE soloist. [16] Boulanger also works with brainwave sensor technology to create "brainwave" music, using interfaces such as NeuroSky's MindWave Mobile EEG Headset. [16]

Boulanger is a published author under the MIT Press, for which he has written and edited two canonical Csound [17] and audio programming textbooks, the latter having been co-edited with Victor Lazzarini. [18]

Recent works

At Moogfest 2017, Boulanger was part of the Berklee College of Music delegation that presented technology for modular synthesizer ensembles, primarily developed by one of Boulanger's proteges and current Berklee faculty Matthew Davidson. [19] Boulanger additionally presented The Sounds of Dreaming, a multi-episodic electronic music opera written, produced, and performed with Nona Hendryx. [20] The project featured custom performance controller systems involving Max/MSP/Jitter, OSC, live video synthesis, DMX lighting and Arduino instruments developed by Boulanger and his students. A revised version of the opera was presented in August 2017 at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in collaboration with performance artist Nick Cave. [21]

Since 1986, [22] Boulanger has taught electronic music at Berklee College of Music, and has previously been on faculty at other collegiate institutions such as New York University and Brown University. He continues to present regularly at audio and music events including Audio Engineering Society conventions [23] and International Csound Conferences, [24] [25] and is an advocate of integrating music technology with music therapy, [26] some of which he has developed with his students. [27] He was a presenter at the Music & Science Symposium organized by Berklee's Music Therapy department in 2013, [28] and at Berklee Electronic Production & Design department's inaugural Voltage Connect Conference in 2017. [5] In October of the same year, Boulanger and Michael Bierylo, chairman of Berklee's Electronic Production & Design department, visited the Shanghai Vocational School of Contemporary Music and attended the 43rd International Computer Music Conference as presenters. [29]

Boulanger's notable students include Elaine Walker, BT, [30] [31] DJ Gomi, Yoon Sang, [32] Marcel Chyrzyński, [33] Tobias Enhus, [34] and Paris Smaragdis. [6]

Boulanger currently resides with his family in Dighton, Massachusetts. [16]



Selected radio baton compositions

From the Csounds website: [35]


Related Research Articles

Computer music is the application of computing technology in music composition, to help human composers create new music or to have computers independently create music, such as with algorithmic composition programs. It includes the theory and application of new and existing computer software technologies and basic aspects of music, such as sound synthesis, digital signal processing, sound design, sonic diffusion, acoustics, electrical engineering and psychoacoustics. The field of computer music can trace its roots back to the origins of electronic music, and the first experiments and innovations with electronic instruments at the turn of the 20th century.

Electronic music is a genre of music that employs electronic musical instruments, digital instruments, or circuitry-based music technology in its creation. It includes both music made using electronic and electromechanical means. Pure electronic instruments depended entirely on circuitry-based sound generation, for instance using devices such as an electronic oscillator, theremin, or synthesizer. Electromechanical instruments can have mechanical parts such as strings, hammers, and electric elements including magnetic pickups, power amplifiers and loudspeakers. Such electromechanical devices include the telharmonium, Hammond organ, electric piano and the electric guitar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electronic musical instrument</span> Musical instrument that uses electronic circuits to generate sound

An electronic musical instrument or electrophone is a musical instrument that produces sound using electronic circuitry. Such an instrument sounds by outputting an electrical, electronic or digital audio signal that ultimately is plugged into a power amplifier which drives a loudspeaker, creating the sound heard by the performer and listener.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Music technology (electronic and digital)</span>

Digital music technology encompasses digital instruments, computers, electronic effects units, software, or digital audio equipment by a performer, composer, sound engineer, DJ, or record producer to produce, perform or record music. The term refers to electronic devices, instruments, computer hardware, and software used in performance, playback, recording, composition, mixing, analysis, and editing of music.

A music sequencer is a device or application software that can record, edit, or play back music, by handling note and performance information in several forms, typically CV/Gate, MIDI, or Open Sound Control (OSC), and possibly audio and automation data for DAWs and plug-ins.

Csound is a domain-specific computer programming language for audio programming. It is called Csound because it is written in C, as opposed to some of its predecessors.

Wavetable synthesis is a sound synthesis technique used to create quasi-periodic waveforms often used in the production of musical tones or notes.

MUSIC-N refers to a family of computer music programs and programming languages descended from or influenced by MUSIC, a program written by Max Mathews in 1957 at Bell Labs. MUSIC was the first computer program for generating digital audio waveforms through direct synthesis. It was one of the first programs for making music on a digital computer, and was certainly the first program to gain wide acceptance in the music research community as viable for that task. The world's first computer-controlled music was generated in Australia by programmer Geoff Hill on the CSIRAC computer which was designed and built by Trevor Pearcey and Maston Beard. However, CSIRAC produced sound by sending raw pulses to the speaker, it did not produce standard digital audio with PCM samples, like the MUSIC-series of programs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Max Mathews</span> American pioneer in computer music

Max Vernon Mathews was a pioneer of computer music.

Barry Lloyd Vercoe is a New Zealand-born computer scientist and composer. He is best known as the inventor of Csound, a music synthesis language with wide usage among computer music composers. SAOL, the underlying language for the MPEG-4 Structured Audio standard, is also historically derived from Csound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yamaha DX7</span> Synthesizer

The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the best-selling synthesizers in history, selling more than 200,000 units.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Miller Puckette</span> American academic

Miller Smith Puckette is the associate director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts as well as a professor of music at the University of California, San Diego, where he has been since 1994. Puckette is known for authoring Max, a graphical development environment for music and multimedia synthesis, which he developed while working at IRCAM in the late 1980s. He is also the author of Pure Data (Pd), a real-time performing platform for audio, video and graphical programming language for the creation of interactive computer music and multimedia works, written in the 1990s with input from many others in the computer music and free software communities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Chowning</span> American classical composer

John M. Chowning is an American composer, musician, discoverer, and professor best known for his work at Stanford University, the founding of CCRMA - Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics in 1975 and his development of the digital implementation of FM synthesis and the digital sound spatialization while there.

MPEG-4 Structured Audio is an ISO/IEC standard for describing sound. It was published as subpart 5 of MPEG-4 Part 3 in 1999.

Russell Pinkston is a professor of composition and the director of the electronic music studios at the University of Texas at Austin School of Music.

David Aaron Jaffe is an American composer who has written over ninety works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, and electronics. He is best known for his use of technology as an electronic-music or computer-music composer in works such as Silicon Valley Breakdown, though his non-electronic music has also been widely performed. He is also known for his development of computer music algorithmic innovations, such as the physical modeling of plucked and bowed strings, as well as for his development of music software such as the NeXT Music Kit and the Universal Audio UAD-2/Apollo/LUNA Recording System.

Gareth Loy is an American author, composer, musician and mathematician. Loy is the author of the two volume series on the intersection of music and mathematics titled Musimathics. Loy was an early practitioner of music synthesis at Stanford, and wrote the first software compiler for the Systems Concepts Digital Synthesizer. More recently, Loy has published the freeware music programming language Musimat, designed specifically for subjects covered in Musimathics, available as a free download. Although Musimathics was first published in 2006 and 2007, the series continues to evolve with updates by the author and publishers, and the texts are being used in numerous math and music classes at both the graduate and undergraduate level, with more current reviews noting that the originally targeted academic distribution is now reaching a much wider audience. Music synthesis pioneer Max Mathews stated that Loy's books are a "guided tour-de-force of the mathematics of physics and music... Loy has always been a brilliantly clear writer. In Musimathics, he is also an encyclopedic writer. He covers everything needed to understand existing music and musical instruments, or to create new music or new instruments... Loy's book and John R. Pierce's famous The Science of Musical Sound belong on everyone's bookshelf, and the rest of the shelf can be empty." John Chowning states, in regard to Nekyia and the Samson Box, "After completing the software, Loy composed Nekyia, a beautiful and powerful composition in four channels that fully exploited the capabilities of the Samson Box. As an integral part of the community, Loy has paid back many times over all that he learned, by conceiving the (Samson) system with maximal generality such that it could be used for research projects in psychoacoustics as well as for hundreds of compositions by a host of composers having diverse compositional strategies."

Victor Lazzarini is a Brazilian-Irish composer and computer music researcher. Born in Londrina, Brazil, he studied music in the local conservatory and completed his B.Mus. (Composition) at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). He received a doctorate from the University of Nottingham in 1996. Since 1998, he has been working at Maynooth University, where he is currently a Professor of Music and Dean of Arts, Celtic Studies and Philosophy.

Paris Smaragdis is a computer scientist noted for his contributions to audio signal processing, computer audition, and machine learning. He is currently an associate professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. He currently holds over 35 patents in the areas of audio signal processing and machine learning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eric Singer (artist)</span> American artist

Eric Singer is a multi-disciplinary artist, musician, programmer and electrical, robotic and medical device engineer. He is known for his interactive art and technology works, electronic and robotic musical instruments, fire art and guerilla art.


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