Max Mathews died of pneumonia in San Francisco on April 21.
He was 84. He has been called the “father of computer music” because his experiments in the 1950s at Bell Labs in NJ produced the first sounds synthesized by computers. He wrote the program MUSIC which led to a series of programs which culminated in CSound.

When he retired in 1985, Mathews worked at Stanford as a professor of music at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA).

When Arthur C. Clarke visited Bell Labs he heard Max’s computer rendition of “Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two)”.

Clarke paid tribute to Max in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” when the “deranged” HAL 9000 computer sings this song as Dave removes his memory units.

I met Max in the summer of 1985 when I was learning Music11 on a PDP-11/34 with Charles Dodge at Brooklyn College. Max was one of the guest lecturers. A few summers later I went to CCRMA and Max remembered me. I was (and still am) a “nobody”. He must have met a zillion computer music mavens so for him to remember people is another tribute to the man in addition to all of his other accomplishments.


Max on Music I

Max playing Daisy