The English rock band Radiohead uses a sample from my very first computer piece, mild und leise, (this is an mp3 file) on one of the tracks on their CD, Kid A. (Yes, they very graciously asked permission, and I gave it. ) In fact, I really like what they did with the sample; it is quite imaginative and inventive. mild und leise was composed in 1973 on an IBM 360/91 mainframe computer. I used the Music360 computer language written by Barry Vercoe. This IBM mainframe was, as far as I know, the only computer on the Princeton University campus at the time. It had about one megabyte of memory, and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (in addition to requiring a staff to run it around the clock). At that point we were actually using punch cards to communicate with the machine, and writing the output to a 1600 BPI digital tape which we then had to carry over to a lab in the basement of the engineering quadrangle in order to listen to it. Here is a photo of me in the lab a few years later. The piece came out on a Columbia/Odyssey LP in 1975 or so as a result of a contest run by the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). It was called Electronic Music Winners (I've occasionally seen it for sale on Ebay), and Jonny Greenwood came across it in a used record shop when the band was on tour in the United States recently I think it sold about 7000 copies, which is a lot for a classical recording. (Kid Awill sell that in the first 10 seconds of its release!)
If you're interested in my more recent music, HERE is my current discography. Most of these CDs can be purchased at Amazon.com (some under Popular, some under Classical), or at other online sites. (HERE are some sound samples).
See if you can guess which part of mild und leise was used in which Radiohead song on Kid A. Hint: the sample occurs in the first few minutes of mild und leise. It's a very "electronic" piece, quite unlike my later work, but at that time it was hard to do much else. It uses FM synthesis, which had just been worked out at Stanford, and later became the staple of Yamaha's DX7 series of synthesizers, and also a special purpose filter design program written (in Fortran IV) by Ken Steiglitz. Oh yes, the harmonic language of the piece is related to George Perle's 12-tone modal system. George and I had been collaborating for the past four years or so on theoretical developments in this system. The piece is based on the 'tristan chord' and its inversions, hence the title. I worked out a multi-dimensional cyclic array based on this chord as the harmonic basis of the piece, but that's the boring part... I still (sort of) like the piece.
What's especially cute, and also occured to Jonny Greenwood, is that I was about his current age, when I wrote the piece--sort of a musical time warp.
Please send me email if you
figure it out where the sample is and where it's used on Kid A.
I'm curious to see if people can figure it out. If you guess right
I'll point you to an mp3 file of my second computer piece, which has never
been recorded (commercially released), and never will be...
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