Currently at Sousa

Intelligent Instruments: The Music Technology of Salvatore Martirano and David Rosenboom, School of Music Lobby, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, October 3, 2022 – October 15, 2022.

Salvatore Martirano joined the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1963 and began contributing to an already productive center for music technology, the University’s Experimental Music Studios. Martirano invented a new approach to music technology, which built upon the success of other composers: Lejaren Hiller, James Beauchamp, Kenneth Gaburo, Ben Johnston, and Herbert Brün. Each had designed or explored new forms of electronically-generated music.

Martirano was already known for his genre-bending theatrical compositions. Yet, his most notable compositions were to be developed here at Illinois. Works like L’s.G.A., a theatrical adaptation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address performed in a gas mask, and Underworld, an electro-acoustic work with actors who wailed and laughed, established him as one of the most innovative composers of the 1960s and 70s.

Martirano was also an influential teacher and David Rosenboom was one of his most successful students. Today, Rosenboom’s research into brainwave technology continues to add to Martirano’s legacy of musical exploration. Rosenboom was attracted to the University of Illinois after witnessing the Urbana premiere of Martirano’s Underworld in 1965. While a student here, Rosenboom also studied with Lejaren Hiller, Kenneth Gaburo, and Gordon Binkerd. He incorporated several of his teachers’ interests into his own compositions.

Rosenboom and Martirano jointly produced Martirano’s Sal-Mar Construction, a musical instrument built at Illinois from the TTL Boards of the ILLIAC II supercomputer. With a system interface of 291 touch-sensitive switches, digital logic circuits, and analog circuit modules, the instrument was designed to approximate four different “orchestras” using electronic noises. Audiences listening to the machine were treated with real-time, surround-sound improvisation. Every performance was a unique experience.

According to Rosenboom, “one might think of the Sal-Mar Construction as a ‘macrocomposition’ because it is a generative system, from which an infinite stream of ‘microcompositions’ could emanate…” Rosenboom, with his knowledge of computer hardware, contributed significantly to the physical construction of the instrument, soldering parts of it in Martirano’s garage in 1969. After graduating from UIUC, Rosenboom began an innovative compositional career, exploring spontaneous improvisation, interdisciplinary performance, new instrument technologies, and musical interfaces with the human nervous system.  This exhibit  features the work of Martirano and Rosenboom, and their contributions to the field of electronic music.

American Bandmasters Association’s Little Light — Austin Harding’s Legacy during the Great Depression, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March 14, 2022 – March 17, 2023.

On July 5, 1929, the American Bandmasters Association held its auspicious inaugural meeting at New York City’s Pennsylvania Hotel.  The purpose of their first meeting was to establish a code of international instrumentation for all wind bands across the world.  Following this meeting, the ABA’s leaders began planning their first formal convention for Middletown, Ohio in 1930.

About this same time, America’s spiral into the Great Depression began, and its roaring economy transitioned into recession in August 1929.  On October 24 and 29, the country’s investors began selling their overpriced shares en masse, which led to the crash of America’s Stock Market.  Consumer confidence quickly vanished, and panicked bank withdrawals began a crisis for America’s banks.

Against this growing national financial disaster, the ABA’s 1930 convention took place between March 13 and 16.  It was a great success according to the meeting’s final report.  In 1931 Austin Harding’s Treasurer’s report following the convention stated that the ABA’s finances remained stable even though over 2,000 banks across the country had already failed.  However, the closure of the Champaign First National Bank on January 19, 1932 where the ABA’s bank accounts were held, created many unexpected challenges for the organization.  Harding, who was the University’s first band director and ABA’s first treasurer, managed all of the organization’s financial assets held by the Champaign bank.

For the next two years, Harding and Edwin Franko Goldman, as its president, worked tirelessly to enable the ABA to continue operating through the Great Depression.  This exhibit of personal correspondence, photographs, financial reports, newspaper clippings and historical music instruments document the early years of the ABA and Austin Harding’s steadfast guidance to Goldman and the other founding members of the American Bandmasters Association.  In addition this video presentation highlights the early years of the ABA and John Philip Sousa’s influence on its early leadership and ABA’s effort to modernize wind ensemble performance in America.

James Beauchamp and the Harmonic Tone Generator, Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, September 22, 2015 – January 31, 2023.

James W. 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. While a student at Illinois he worked closely with his mentor and composition professor Lejaren Hiller, and created one of America’s first voltage-controlled electronic music synthesizers called the Harmonic Tone Generator (HTG). 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 their electrical engineering faculty, and by 1969 had earned a joint appointment in the electrical engineering and music departments.  Between 1969 and 1973 Beauchamp served as director of the School of Music’s Experimental Music Studios (EMS), 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.  This exhibit documents through photographs, stories, scientific reports, and audio recordings the early development of the HTG at the University of Illinois.