Sousa Archives Acquires James W. Beauchamp’s Harmonic Tone Generator

Beauchamp Harmonic Tone Generator (upper left) and James W. Beauchamp Tuning the Harmonic Tone Generator (upper right) in Stiven House, University of Illinois, ca. 1963.

The Sousa Archives acquired James W. Beauchamp’s Harmonic Tone Generator and Papers on January 14, 2015 as part of its efforts to document the University of Illinois’ electronic music legacy.  Beauchamp earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in 1960 and 1961, and in 1965 he graduated from the University of Illinois with a PhD in electrical engineering. His dissertation was entitled Electronic Instrumentation for the Synthesis, Control, and Analysis of Harmonic Musical Tones.  Beauchamp worked closely with his mentor and composition professor Lejaren Hiller while a graduate student at Illinois, and created a solid-state additive audio synthesis device called the Harmonic Tone Generator (HTG), one of the country’s first voltage-controlled electronic music synthesizers. The HTG was used in several different electronic music projects produced at the University of Illinois during the 1960s and 70s including Salvatore Martirano’s Underworld.  After graduating from Illinois he joined the electrical engineering faculty, and later took a leave of absence to work at Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. When he returned to campus in 1969 Beauchamp received a joint appointment in the electrical engineering and music departments.  During his tenure at Illinois, he served as director of the School of Music’s Experimental Music Studios (EMS) between 1969 and 1973, and as director of the Computer Music Project (CMP) between 1984 and 1993.  In the fall of 1993 Beauchamp and Sever Tipei became co-managers of CMP.  Currently Beauchamp is Professor Emeritus in both the School of Music and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois.   The Sousa Archives will make these materials available to scholars later this spring when the collection has been arranged and described.  For further details about this new acquisition please contact the Sousa Archives staff.

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