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Richard Lainhart, Prolific Composer and Artist, Dies at 58; Links to His Work

Richard plays Handmade Music in 2007; full video at bottom. I’m saddened to learn of the death of Richard Lainhart, the New York-based composer and artist who has been inseparable from the experimental electronic scene for many years. I knew Richard to be a gentle and imaginative soul, an inventive technologist, someone capable of dreaming up endless soundscapes and auditory worlds. He was also a great contributor to the CDM community, including playing one of the early installments of Handmade Music at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn. (Photo above; full video at bottom.) I think it’s fitting to illustrate Richard with …

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French Rock Band Makes Steve Jobs Tribute From His Words

People still find heroes – imperfect as they may be, people who provide inspiration. I’ve been talking a lot this year about the impact of Max Mathews; more on that soon. But in the aftermath of Steve Jobs’ death, it’s touching to see some of the reactions. French Rock band Bravery in Battle write CDM to share their music video homage to the Apple leader. They’ve gotten quite a lot of attention in French, as well (French-language links): «Ayez faim, soyez fous»… les bonnes paroles de Steve jobs mises en musique [Liberation] Un bel hommage à Steve Jobs en musique …

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Walter Müller, Inventor of Futuristic Harmonica, Dies, But Millioniser Lives On

The man who gave harmonicas a boldly futuristic vision is lost to us. We’ve learned that Walter Müller, inventor of the MIDI wind controller Millioniser, died this month. Rock Erickson of Millioniser writes with the news, and updates us on plans to carry on with the Millioniser as well as to honor Müller’s memory. (See the groovy video from 1983 promoting this creation.) I am sad to announce that Walt Miller (Walter Müller) Inventor of Millioniser (midi wind controller) has died in Switzerland on 10.13.2011. Millioniser introduces HIP™ Technology (Harmonica In Principal) which enables the user to sound notes via …

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Farewell to Dennis Ritchie, Whose Language Underlies Digital Music Software

Photo (CC-BY) Mark Anderson. The generation of people who defined modern computing seems to be passing this year. Following Max Mathews, another Bell Labs titan is lost to us: Dennis Ritchie is the man who created the original C programming language (again at Bell Labs) as well as co-developed the UNIX operating system. President Obama commented that many people learned of Steve Jobs’ death on a device “he invented.” For all Jobs’ contributions, it is as untrue to say that as it is true to say the same of Ritchie: you are quite literally reading this story as served by …

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Loss of a Techno Rebel: Why Dan Sicko Will Be Sorely Missed

Journalist, techno organizer, lecturer, and creative director Dan Sicko has sadly passed away this weekend, the victim of the rare but devastating condition of ocular melanoma. Sicko is best known to electronic music fans as the author of the terrific Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk (Billboard: 1999). A uniquely techno-focused story, that book is a particularly good tome on the underground roots of the techno genre. But Sicko contributed more than just that book, as a music writer (Rolling Stone, Wired, Urb), and a lecturer on Detroit music culture, as well as a fixture on the techno music …

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Max Mathews, Father of Digital Synthesis, Computer Innovator, Dies at 84

Max Mathews is best known for his involvement in the debut of digital synthesis, but he contributed much more. His Radio Baton predicted gestural controllers that arrived much later from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, and it may be his code design ideas that outlast even the memory of the computer’s first musical utterances. Photo CC-BY-NC-SA) Rainer Kohlberger. Max Mathews, the man who literally first gave voice to computer music, died yesterday at age 84. I can only offer my heartfelt condolences to Max’s friends and family. Max was the man present at the moment when the very subject matter of …

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Tsutomu Katoh, Korg Founder and Chairman, Has Passed Away

From his well-deserved induction at Rockwalk. I was saddened to learn this morning that earlier today, Tsutomu Katoh, founder and chairman of Korg, passed away. He was a rare visionary, not only the founder of one of the great electronic instrument manufacturers, but – unlike the vast majority of his counterparts – someone who stayed at the helm of the business he created. Founded nearly 50 years ago, Korg, started with Tadashi Osanai, was one of the first businesses to popularize electronic instruments as we now know them. Kato, a veteran Shinjuku nightclub owner, bet on the legendary DoncaMatic drum …

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Milton Babbitt Passes; Composer Had Place in Origins of Electronic Music, Musical Revolutions

Hindsight normally gives perspective to history, but in the case of the 20th Century, even looking back, it’s hard to fathom the sheer magnitude of change in human thought and technology. Composers faced the twin revolutions of electronic sound — recorded, synthesized, and eventually computerized — and new systems for organizing pitch and rhythm from the early European avant garde to access to every world music culture. One figure at the center of the academic reinvention of American music was Milton Babbitt, the experimental innovator who passed away over the weekend at the age of 94. Obituaries inevitably brought up …

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JazzMutant Lemur Controller is Dead; Long Live Multitouch

The Lemur, seen here onstage with The Glitch Mob, rides off into the sunset. It’s not so often that I write obituaries for hardware, but this time, it seems appropriate. JazzMutant has announced that its Lemur, the multi-touch hardware controller, is officially at the end of its life. Their announcement:

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Remembering Keith Barr, Founder of Alesis, Lost Last Week

Photos courtesy Spin Semiconductor. I was stunned last week to learn of the death of Keith Barr, the founder of Alesis and a beloved, legendary engineer of music technology. He was 61. An analog engineer gone digital, he led the charge to make digital reverb and studio recording affordable, and even after his Alesis years continued to be one of music’s great engineering minds. Our condolences to Barr’s surviving family and to the countless friends and colleagues in the music industry and beyond. Our friend James Grahame, Retro Thing founder and himself an engineer (via Reflex Audio and others, shares …

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