The San Francisco Tape Music Center, or SFTMC, was founded in the summer of 1962by composers Ramon Sender and Morton Subotnick as a collaborative, "non profit corporation developed and maintained" by local composers working with tape recorders and other novel compositional technologies, which functioned both as an electronic music studio and concert venue. Composer Pauline Oliveros, artist Tony Martin and technician William Maginnis eventually joined the SFTMC.
The SFTMC was an active and important hub for experimental music and interdisciplinary art in the Bay Area from 1962 to 1966.
Before the SFTMC was officially established, it began as a small music studio built in the attic of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music by Ramon Sender in October 1961.The studio was minimally equipped and housed little else than the conservatory's two-channel Ampex tape recorder, but Sender and fellow Sonics composers creatively explored the limitations of the studio by using contact microphones to augment their recordings in an experimental manner.
The concert series that also paved the way to the creation of the SFTMC, titled Sonics, was organized by Sender and Pauline Oliveros, a fellow composition student of Robert Erickson. The first Sonics concert of December 1961 consisted of original tape compositions by Oliveros, Sender, Terry Riley and Philip Winsor as well as a collaborative live improvisations.The sixth and last concert of the series took place on June 11, 1962.
The premiere of Terry Riley's seminal minimalist composition In C was performed at (and organized by) the SFTMC on November 4 and 6, 1964. It was performed by Riley, Steve Reich, Jon Gibson, Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Morton Subotnick, Warner Jepson and others, while Tony Martin operated the light show or "visual environment".
The SFTMC members, particularly Morton Subotnick, were instrumental in the creation of the Buchla analog modular synthesizer.
Over the course of four years, the SFTMC changed locations twice, first to 1537 Jones Street and then to 321 Divisadero Street, before the Rockefeller Foundation awarded a $200,000 grant to Mills College to bring the SFTMC to Mills and merge it with the Mills Performing Group, where it eventually became the Mills Tape Music Center. Pauline Oliveros, Tony Martin and William Maginnis collectively served as directors for the new center, which is now the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).
Electronic music is 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.
Stephen Michael Reich is an American composer known for his contribution to the development of minimal music in the mid to late 1960s.
Terrence "Terry" Mitchell Riley, is an American composer and performing musician best known as a pioneer of the minimalist school of composition. Influenced by jazz and Indian classical music, his music became notable for its innovative use of repetition, tape music techniques, and delay systems. He produced his best known works in the 1960s: the 1964 composition In C and the 1969 LP A Rainbow in Curved Air, both considered landmarks of minimalism and important influences on experimental, rock, and contemporary electronic music.
Ambient music is a genre of music that emphasizes tone and atmosphere over traditional musical structure or rhythm. A form of instrumental music, it may lack net composition, beat, or structured melody. It uses textural layers of sound which can reward both passive and active listening and encourage a sense of calm or contemplation. The genre is said to evoke an "atmospheric", "visual", or "unobtrusive" quality. Nature soundscapes may be included, and the sounds of acoustic instruments such as the piano, strings and flute may be emulated through a synthesizer.
In C is a musical piece composed by Terry Riley in 1964 for an indefinite number of performers. He suggests "a group of about 35 is desired if possible but smaller or larger groups will work". A series of short melodic fragments, In C is often cited as the first minimalist composition.
Pauline Oliveros was an American composer, accordionist and a central figure in the development of post-war experimental and electronic music.
Joan Linda La Barbara is an American vocalist and composer known for her explorations of non-conventional or "extended" vocal techniques. Considered to be a vocal virtuoso in the field of contemporary music, she is credited with advancing a new vocabulary of vocal sounds including trills, whispers, cries, sighs, inhaled tones, and multiphonics.
Morton Subotnick is an American composer of electronic music, best known for his 1967 composition Silver Apples of the Moon, the first electronic work commissioned by a record company, Nonesuch. He was one of the founding members of California Institute of the Arts, where he taught for many years.
Robert Erickson was an American composer.
The Deep Listening Band (DLB) was founded in 1988 by Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster and Panaiotis. David Gamper replaced Panaiotis in 1990.
Chaim Moshe Tzadik Palestine, known professionally as Charlemagne Palestine, is an American visual artist and musician. He has been described as being one of the founders of New York school of minimalist music, first initiated by La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Phil Niblock, although he prefers to call himself a maximalist.
Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments (BEMI) was a manufacturer of synthesizers and unique MIDI controllers. The origins of the company could be found in Buchla & Associates, created in 1963 by synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla of Berkeley, California. In 2012 the original company led by Don Buchla was acquired by a group of Australian investors trading as Audio Supermarket Pty. Ltd. The company was renamed Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments as part of the acquisition. In 2018 the assets of BEMI were acquired by a new entity, Buchla U.S.A., and the company continues under new ownership.
Ramón Sender Barayón is a composer, visual artist and writer. He was the co-founder with Morton Subotnick of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in 1962. He is the son of Spanish writer Ramón J. Sender.
Sarah Cahill is an American pianist based in the Bay Area. She has also worked as a writer on music and as a radio show host.
Gerald M. Shapiro is an American composer of acoustic and electronic music.
Silver Apples of the Moon is the debut album by American composer and musician Morton Subotnick, released by Nonesuch Records in July 1967. It contains the titular composition which is divided into two parts. A showcase for the Buchla 100 synthesizer, an early analogue synthesizer that the composer helped develop, it was the first piece of electronic music commissioned by a record company.
Tony Martin (1937-2021) was an American painter and new media artist known for his groundbreaking light art and viewer interactive sculptures and installations, and the paintings associated with those works. His six decade painting career includes expressionistic figural work and abstraction developed from his life and environs.
Matt Ingalls is an American composer, clarinetist, concert producer, and computer music programmer. He is mostly associated with the San Francisco Bay Area Improv Scene, sfSound, the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, and the computer music program Csound.
Betty Ann Wong is an American author, composer, and multi-media musician.
Alexandra Gardner is an American contemporary composer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her music employs diverse acoustic instrumentation and electronics, drawing on minimalist and modernist influences as well as extra-musical sources and sounds. Critics note her work for its blend of contemplative and expressive qualities, clear structure and unexpected evolution, and complex rhythms. In a 2007 New Yorker essay, music critic Alex Ross placed Gardner among a "vital group of composers" creating a "new kind of interstitial music" that blurs genre boundaries.