- John Chowning
John M. Chowning (born
1934in Salem, New Jersey) is an American musician, inventor, and professor best known for his work at Stanford Universityand his invention of FM synthesis while there. He is currently nearly deaf due to suffering from tinnitus due to years of listening to high intensity sounds with high energy spectra over headphones.
John M. Chowning is known for having discovered the FM synthesis algorithm in
1967. In FM synthesis, also known as frequency modulation, both the carrier frequencyand the modulationfrequency are within the audio band. In essence, the amplitudeand frequencyof one waveform modulates the frequency of another waveform producing a resultant waveform that can be periodic or non-periodic depending upon the ratio of the two frequencies.
Chowning's breakthrough allowed for simple yet rich sounding
timbres, which synthesized 'metal striking' or 'bell like' sounds, and which seemed incredibly similar to real percussion. (Chowning was also a skilled drummer.) He spent six years turning his breakthrough into a system of musical importance and eventually was able to simulate a large number of musical sounds, including the singing voice. In 1973 Stanford Universitylicensed the discovery to Yamaha in Japan, with whom Chowning worked in developing a family of synthesizers and electronic organs. This patent was Stanford's most lucrative patent at one time, eclipsing many in electronics, computer science, and biotechnology.
The first product to incorporate the FM algorithm was Yamaha's GS1, a digital synthesizer that first shipped in
1981. Some thought it too expensive at the time, Chowning included. Soon after, in 1983, Yamaha made their first commercially successful digital FM synthesizer, the DX7.
John Chowning graduated from [http://www.wittenberg.edu/music/ Wittenberg University] with a Bachelor of Music in 1959. He studied music composition for three years with
Nadia Boulangerin Paris and received his doctorate (DMA) from Stanford in 1966. He was the founding director in 1975of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University.
Chowning also worked for a number of years at
IRCAM, in Paris.
One of Chowning's most famous pieces is called "Stria" (
1977). It was commissioned by IRCAMfor the Institute's first major concert series called "Perspectives of the 20th Century". His composition was noted for its inharmonic sounds due to his famous FMalgorithm and his use of the Golden Mean(1.618...) in music.
Other famous compositions include "Turenas" (
1972), which was one of the first electronic compositions to have the illusion of sounds moving in a 360-degree space. " [http://wc09.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:difwxqlhldfe] " With "Phoné" (1980-1981), he became the first to put FM over voice synthesis " [http://musicweb.koncon.nl/ircam/en/artificial/phone.html] ."
* "Sabelithe", 1966, revised 1971
* "Turenas", 1972
* "Stria", 1977
* "Phoné", 1980-1981
* "Voices", 2005
* [http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chowning Chowning on Wikipedia-french]
* [http://edocs.tu-berlin.de/diss/2001/zelli_bijan.htm Click here to See an Analysis of John Chowning's Composition "Turenas" by Bijan Zelli]
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