Charles Ames

Composer, Musical Theorist, and Designer of Computer-Music Systems


Charles Ames in 2011. Credit: Ostrava Center for New Music — Martin Popelar.

I graduated from Pomona College in 1977 with a double major in mathematics and music. My teachers at Pomona included Karl Kohn (advanced theory, composition, orchestration) and John Steele Ritter (theory, electronic music, classical/romantic history).

I earned my M.A. and Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where my primary professors were Lejaren Hiller and Morton Feldman. As a graduate student I organized courses in digital sound synthesis and computer composition. These courses were initially given under the supervision of John Myhill but in subsequent years I presented the material myself.

Other educational experiences include a 1972 summer jazz workshop at the Berkee College of Music, a 1976 summer workshop in computer- generated sound at Stanford University, a 1976 semester abroad at Oxford University (studying Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music), and a 1978 workshop in computer-generated sound at M.I.T.

During the spring and summer of 1977 I worked with Prentiss Knowlton's computer-controlled pipe organ in Pasadena, California.

In 1984/1985 I was part of the SUNY/Buffalo team organized by Lejaren Hiller to create an installation demonstrating Artificial Intelligence and Musical Composition for the 1985 International Exhibition at Tsukuba, Japan.

In 1987 Ray Kurzweil invited me to create a new installation for the traveling exhibition Robots and Beyond: The Age of Intelligent Machines. Ray christened this system the Cybernetic Composer.

In 1989/1990 I taught introductory theory and computer composition for one year to undergraduates at the New England Conservatory under the supervision of Lyle Davidson.

In 1990/1991 I taught computer composition to graduate students at the State University of New York at Buffalo under the supervision of David Felder.

My history of computer composition in Leonardo, “Automated Composition in Retrospect: 1956-1986” received Leonardo's Coler-Maxwell award for excellence.

During a long hiatus from computer music I worked as a database programmer, mostly for one company which was variously named UCA, UCA&L, Softback Services Group, ClientLogic, and Sitel. My accomplishments there included designing and building a reporting production scheduler which ran some 14,000 jobs each day. I was downsized in 2009.

In 2011 Petr Kotik invited me to present at the Ostrava Days Institute.

Friends and Relatives

Thomas Ames Marguerite Ames Nick Collins Nick Didkovsky Kemal Ebcioğlu
Keith Horne Robert Franki Richard Gomer Petr Kotik Ray Kurzweil
Meredith McGehee Larry Polansky Christos Hatzis Patrice Michaels Mary Ames Mitchell
Marshall Reese Andrew Christopher Smith Nathan Wang Robyn Warhol Christopher Yavelow
Stan Zeidenberg

© Charles Ames Page created: 2013-05-20 Last updated: 2013-01-14