Birth Of A Genre

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Researchers at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, have restored what is claimed to be the earliest recording of computer-generated music, created by modern computing patriarch Alan Turing.

Sez The Grauniad:

“Alan Turing’s pioneering work in the late 1940s on transforming the computer into a musical instrument has been largely overlooked,” they said.

The recording was made 65 years ago by a BBC outside-broadcast unit at the Computing Machine Laboratory in Manchester, England.

The machine, which filled much of the lab’s ground floor, was used to generate three melodies; God Save the King, Baa, Baa Black Sheep, and Glenn Miller’s swing classic In the Mood.

But when UC professor Jack Copeland and composer Jason Long [pictured above] examined the 12-inch (30.5cm) acetate disc containing the music, they found the audio was distorted.

“The frequencies in the recording were not accurate. The recording gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded,” they said. They fixed it with electronic detective work, tweaking the speed of the audio, compensating for a “wobble” in the recording and filtering out extraneous noise.

“It was a beautiful moment when we first heard the true sound of Turing’s computer,” Copeland and Long said in a blogpost on the British Library website.

Beeps and boops streamable above.

First recording of computer-generated music – created by Alan Turing – restored

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