History of computer music at Bletchley Park

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The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park has unveiled a temporary hands-on display tracing the history of computer music.

Compiled by volunteer, Ben Trethowan, the display walks visitors through the origins of computer music in the 1950s right up to the modern day and it will be open to visitors over the summer months.

Mr Trethowan explained how computer music has developed since its 1950s roots.

He said: “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.

“TNMOC’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.”

Visitors to the museum will be given samples of the fundraising album ‘Music By Programmers’, proceeds from which will help start a programming club for young people at the museum and parent-child maths work shops run by the Bletchley Park Trust.

The museum will be hosting workshops over the summer in line with their computer music theme, which will give visitors the opportunity to write their own code that will generate music.

The workshops will allow users to try their hand with the first semi-professional dedicated computer music systems and follow the development of computer music systems.

‘Music By Programmers,’ created by Jason Gorman and colleagues, is available to download through all usual music download websites.

The album has already enjoyed some success having recently entered Amazon’s top 40.