Networked_Music_Review

IBM 1401, a User’s Manual Part I

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=tBw_wSoVQrY[/youtube]
IBM 1401, a User’s Manual Part I – IBM 1401 Processing Unit
Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson. Video directed by Magnus Helgason.

“When IBM chief maintenance engineer Jóhann Gunnarsson started tinkering with the IBM 1401 Data Processing System, believed to have been the first computer to arrive in his native Iceland in 1964, he noticed an electromagnetic leak from the machine’s memory caused a deep, cellolike hum to come from nearby AM radios. It was a production defect but, captivated, amateur musician Gunnarson and his colleagues soon learned how to reprogram the room-size business workhorse’s innards to emit melodies that rank amongst the earliest in a long line of Scandinavian digital music.

Fast-forward four decades, and recently discovered tape recordings of Gunnarson’s works form the basis of a touring song-and-dance performance, IBM 1401: A User’s Manual. The show was composed by Gunnarson’s son Jóhann Jóhannsson, with interpretive dance choreographed by Erna Omarsdotti, whose father is another IBM alum.

The work, named in part for a companion recording of a voice reciting the manual for an IBM 1403 printer, was performed in Wales, Tokyo, Copenhagen and Belgium this summer. Part of the original 1401 recordings were scored for a 60-piece orchestra, which Jóhannsson has adapted for piano and Hammond organ. Omarsdotti’s mechanistic body movements channel the whirring of the primitive machines — music to the ears of fellow IBM-heads.” IBM 1401 Mainframe, the Musical by Robert Andrews, Wired.com.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvPKxRMciRs[/youtube]
IBM 1401: A User’s Manual live in Dro, Italy in August 2006.


Jun 29, 2007
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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