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WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

Ancient computer music

A 1951 recording of a computer making music—ancient in computer years.

The BBC reports at length about short recordings of bits of Baa Baa Black Sheep and In the Mood, which are thought to be the oldest known recordings of computer generated music. Amusingly, there is some debate as to whether the computer was generating music as music, or just as a kind of sound effect to punctuate the end of an early computer game.

In any case, the music comes across now more as a museum artifact than music, per se. The video in the article, however, is an iconic newsreel from the era, and is actually fun to watch.

I'll post about topics like this from time to time because I enjoy hearing about odd historical instruments—especially mechanical ones. But, early computer music and early sound recordings are definitely of interest.

I was hoping to cap this post off with the video clip of the Beatles playing Ticket to Ride on the Time / Space Visualiser in the The Chase, a 1965 episode of Dr. Who. I imagined that would be a nice complement in that it's a past vision of a future time looking back at a past that was, in actuality, really the present (at the time).

Unfortunately, the BBC has pulled that clip from YouTube, and I can't find it elsewhere right now. So, we'll all have to track it down elsewhere in the future.


Waxy notes that this BBC recording is before the recording from Bell Labs and Daisy, but after the recording of CSIRAC.

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