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A Wing and a Song

One of the requirements for an MFA degree at Mills College Center for Contemporary Music was a thesis piece and performance. At that time some of the students had started using small single board SYM computers to control various functions on analog synthesizers and I was shown a schematic design by Tim Perkis a recent graduate student from the same department. The plan was to create and interface that would communicate with Casio’s new Casiotone M-10 polyphonic synthesizer and to use flight instruments on a hang glider to effect tempo and transposition of a composition.


The piece was essentially a digital music system controlled by the pitch and roll of a hang glider. The thesis concert was held on May 10th 1983 at Fort Funston along the cliffs over looking the Pacific. Since then, he has been forever curious about the intersection an interaction of audience and art. After a soldering tutorial by Gordon Mumma and a quick trip to John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory to visit with Maynard Hill, it was time for some serious electronics and programming. Scot Gresham-Lancaster guided me through the how-to with silicon chips and breadboards and Phil Stone spent countless hours coding a programming that would play music and read the aeronautics of the hang glider.