In 1967, the music department hired Jon Appleton to teach composition and music theory. Appleton’s specialty was electronic music, and he had worked at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. The first electronic studio was the Hardy Broadcast Studio, a small room situated between Faulkner Recital Hall and Hartman Rehearsal Hall in the Hopkins Center for the Arts. In 1968, Gerald Bregman offered his financial help to expand the small studio with equipment such as a Moog synthesizer. In the same year, the first course for undergraduates was offered, Indroduction to the Composition of Electronic Music.
International Competition of Electronic Music and the Summer Electronic Music Institute
The world’s first competition of electronic music was held on April 5, 1968 at Dartmouth College. For two more years, the International Competition of Electronic Music drew a large number of participants. The 1972 Summer Electronic Music Institute was the first of its kind in the United States. Jointly hosted by Dartmouth College and the University of New Hampshire in Durham, the Institute provided basic information about and instruction in electronic music for music faculty, college students, composers, and professional musicians.
In 1973, Jon Appleton, engineer Sydney Alonso, and Cameron Jones ‘74 received a Sloan Foundation grant to expand their work in digital synthesis. They created the Dartmouth Digital Synthesizer, a free-standing system for computer-assisted music instruction and composition. It ultimately became the Synclavier, the first portable, all-digital, performance instrument. Synclaviers are used in many electronic music studios in colleges and universities. Musicians that have toured with a Synclavier include Sting, Michael Jackson, Frank Zappa, Oscar Peterson, and Pat Metheny.
Graduate Program in Electroacoustic Music
In 1989, Dartmouth launched the graduate program in Electroacoustic Music. This unique program combined students with expertise in music composition, performance, computer science, engineering, physics, visual arts, and music cognition. Most graduates pursue careers in music, digital audio, audio research, or allied arts. Some graduates remain in academia, some work as freelance composers or performers, and others create music software or hardware. Many of the activities that graduates ultimately pursued were discovered while studying at Dartmouth.
Faculty who have taught in the program include Kathryn Alexander, Jon Appleton, Newton Armstrong, Jamshed Barucha, Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Charles Dodge, Michael Casey, David Evans Jones, Lauren Levey, Eric Lyon, Max Mathews, Tae Hong Park, Larry Polansky, Douglas Repetto, Jean-Claude Risset, Mary Roberts, Marina Rosenfeld, Mathew B. Smith, Yuri Spitsyn, Michael Sturge, Ge Wang, and Christian Wolff.
Distinguished visitors have included Milton Babbitt, Francois Bayle, Pierre Boulez, John Cage, John Chowning, Francis Dhomont, David Dunn, Beatriz Ferrerya, Philip Glass, Paul Lansky, Ingram Marshall, Gordon Mumma, Aki Onda, Russell Pinkston, Michel Redolfi, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Andre Smirnov, Morton Subotnick, James Tenney, Daniel Teruggi, and Vladimir Ussachevsky.
Renaming of the Graduate Program to Digital Musics
In 2009 the Graduate Program celebrated its 20th anniversary and was officially renamed Digital Musics. The new name reflects changes in the larger cultural context of electroacoustic music at a time when music download services have replaced record stores, the Internet enables artists to dispense with record labels and radio has become personalised and intelligent via music matching algorithms. Digital Musics acknowledges the new directions for music both as creative practice and as research; our new identity will better align us with Dartmouth’s emerging Digital Arts and Digital Humanities programs.