Feeds

Hex & plugs & ROM & roll: Computer music stars rock Bletchley

Seven decades of electronica at code-breaking park museum

High performance access to file storage

Are programmers the new rock stars? That may be a bit of a stretch, but it hasn't stopped one IT engineer staging a computer music exhibition at Blighty's Bletchley Park.

The new hands-on display at The National Museum of Computing, located in the grounds of the wartime code-breaking nerve-centre, focusses on the story of electronic music.

The gallery covers electronica's primitive beginnings in the 1950s, when the sound was little better than a few buzzes and beeps, to the modern day, when the sound is little better than a few buzzes and beeps created using advanced algorithms that mimic the analogue synthesisers of yore to make more refined buzzes and beeps.

It will also explore the first generation of computer-powered synthesisers that emerged in the 1980s and were used by the likes of Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush; a Yamaha CX5M music computer will be on show to play with. The exhibition will also walk through the melody-making software used on Apple to Acorn machines.

On his Twitter feed, the exhibition's curator Ben Trethowan described himself as a “systems engineering techno geek” interested in “synthesisers, theatre, 1980s music and Blackadder”. He is also a volunteer at the museum.

“Computer music has come a very long way from the first challenges of making noises using computers, resulting in beeping renditions of Baa Baa Black Sheep in the early 1950s, to the computer-aided algorithmic compositions, improvised live coding, and the Music By Programmers album of today," he said.

“The National Museum of Computing's display follows the development of computer music from its origins on the earliest stored-program computers, through the software that gave consumers the ability to create their own music on home desktops of the 1970s and 1980s, to the professional dedicated music systems commonly in use today."

As well as listening to the sounds of generations gone by, visitors to the museum will be treated to samples of the fundraising album Music By Programmers, which aims to raise £5,000 to pay for maths workshop and a programming club at the museum. The album was influenced by computer game tunes of the 1980s and proto-techno bands such as Kraftwerk.

The digital album apparently entered the Amazon top 40 charts in the week of its release at the end of April. It’s now sitting at number 2,004 on the web bazaar's sales rankings.

The first computer to play music was the CSIRAC, which was Australia's first digital computer and was built in the late 1940s. It made a public performance of the Colonel Bogey March, but no recording has survived. Britain’s first computer music recording was a rendition of God Save The King, produced in 1951 using a Ferranti Mark I computer with software created by computer scientist Christopher Strachey. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.