avatar for John M. Chowning

John M. Chowning

Stanford University
Professor of Music, Emeritus
John M. Chowning was born in Salem, New Jersey in 1934. Following military and university studies, he studied composition in Paris in 1959 for three years with Nadia Boulanger. In 1966 he received a doctorate in composition from Stanford University, where he studied with Leland Smith. In 1964 with the support of Max Mathews and David Poole, he began his research in computer music. Following the work of Stockhausen, he programmed the first generalized surround sound localization algorithm in 1968. He discovered the FM synthesis algorithm in 1967. Inspired by the acoustic and perceptual research of Jean-Claude Risset, he developed the algorithm, which Stanford University patented and licensed to Yamaha in 1973. It became the most successful synthesis engine in the history of electroacoustic instruments. From 1964 until 1996, Chowning taught computer-sound synthesis and composition at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). Following his retirement, he has continued research related to his compositions.

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