James W. BeauchampProfessor Emeritus of Music and Electrical & Computer Engineering
University of Michigan (B.S., 1960; M.S., 1961), University of Illinois (Ph.D., 1965)
James Beauchamp attended Redford High School in Detroit (1951-55), where he played trumpet in the band and orchestra, studied music theory with Loretta Petrosky, and experimented in composition. He then attended Albion College in Michigan (1955-57) while playing in the Charlie Brown Jazz Band for which he wrote arrangements. This was followed by studies in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan (B.S., 1960; M.S., 1961) which, after a years’ hiatus in Los Angeles working at the Space Technology Laboratories, he continued at the University of Illinois (Ph.D., 1965). Based on learning Fourier analysis/synthesis at U. of M., he developed his first ideas about electronic music, and with the aid of new mentor and composition professor Lejaren Hiller at the U. of I., he became a U. of I. fellow (supported by the Magnavox Corp., 1962-65) to develop one of the first voltage-controlled electronic music synthesizers (1964), the Harmonic Tone Generator, which was based on additive sinusoidal synthesis. The HTG was used for production of several early electronic music compositions at the U. of I. (e.g., Savatore Martirano’s Underworld). Starting in the mid-1960s he developed a computer program for analysis/synthesis of musical sounds, which became known as SNDAN, and in the mid-1980s developed a program called Music 4C (M4C) for music synthesis from computer score.
In 1965 he joined the U. of I. faculty in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering and introduced a new course in acoustics. In 1968 he took a year’s leave of absence at Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to work in automatic speech recognition. Returning to Illinois in 1969 he began a joint appointment in both music and electrical engineering while serving as director of the School of Music Experimental Music Studios (1969-72) and teaching musical acoustics and electronic music, which were cross-listed between music and EE. During 1973-81 he directed a Hybrid Computer Project within the EMS, and during 1984-93 he cofounded and directed the Computer Music Project. During 1969-1997 he organized and produced over 30 concerts of electronic and computer music.
He is a fellow of the Audio Engineering Society and the Acoustical Society of America, and has served on various committees of the ASA. He is co-editor and author of the books Music by Computers (1969) and Analysis, Synthesis, and Perception of Musical Sounds (2007). He has published over 50 papers on musical acoustics and computer music in various professional journals and has been a frequent speaker at meetings of various professional organizations. He is former president and member of the Board of Directors of the International Computer Music Association and co-organized International Computer Music Conferences at the UI School of Music in 1975 and 1987. In 1988 he was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University. During 1994-95 he was a visiting researcher at the Institut de recherche et coordination in acoustique musique (IRCAM) in Paris, France. Since retirement in 1997 he has continued to research, publish articles, and give papers on musical acoustics at professional meetings, many of them in collaboration with former UIUC students.