Feb 20, 2007
San Francisco, CA

BEAM Foundation Launches “No Note Left Behind Project” to preserve and create Modern Music

(San Francisco-California, February 20, 2007) The BEAM Foundation announced today it is undertaking a major global initiative called the “No Note Left Behind” project. The goal of the program is to create a standard for an enduring performance score for New Music that involves computers, networks, alternate instruments and audio/video processing. The project will launch with a kick-off party and live performance/demonstration in San Francisco on March 22nd 2007.

The problems associated with musical scoring and performance are significant, and have been growing worse for many decades. In 1932 the great composer Edgard Varese stated, “ We need new instruments very badly.” Prescient as he was, Varese was only partly correct. Not only do we need new instruments, we need a durable new way to compose and score for these instruments.

BEAM Founder Keith McMillen, a noted instrument designer and musician, describes the problem as global and pernicious. “The inability to maintain a score over time and distance has resulted in the languishing of modern music. Why write for new instruments and techniques when your efforts will not add to the performance repertoire? Composers are reduced to the Karaoke-like world of recording the modern composition in-studio and having live musicians play along – it’s degrading to the performers and uninviting to any audience.”

“Sadly after 50 years of progress, we have a Babel of equipment, notation techniques and connection schemes – each unique to the composition and even to the musicians performing the work,” McMillen continues. “ Rarely is a modern music composition using new instruments performed more than once. Often it’s impossible to perform apiece just five years after it was written. Composers who once embraced technology in their creations (such as Riley, Adams, Stockhausen, Reich, and Boulez) have reverted to traditional instrumentation for the bulk of their current work. Not because of choice, but out of necessity.”

"What makes a piece of music classic is the ability to transcend time and space. Think of listening to a Beethoven string quartet – you can hear it performed anywhere at any time. That’s not true for most new music pieces written in the last 50 years. Many compositions receive just a few performances and, because of technology changes, are never played again. Musicians and composers worldwide are clamoring for an enduring scoring environment which will give their compositions unlimited life and ubiquity. BEAM is very excited to be leading this project and bringing to the world stage a scoring system that will set the tone in music for the next 100 years.”

BEAM Foundation is developing a new music scoring system called MAPPS (Musically Accumulating Persistent Performance Score). MAPPS consists of an authoring environment and methodology for rendering all synthesis, processing, interaction and representation in a high level portable language. In this environment all hardware, except the performer’s instrument, will be virtualized. Flat screens replace traditional music stands, giving musicians feedback and interactivity with other musicians playing in real time. Working versions of these concepts have already been implemented by BEAM Foundation in a novel system called “MACIAS” now being used in performance by TrioMetrik, (www.triometrik.org), the group which will perform live at the San Francisco kickoff event for the No Note Left Behind project (more information on the No Note Left Behind project and San Francisco launch event at www.beamfoundation.org).

Richard Boulanger, professor at The Berklee College of Music describes how important MAPPS is to the world of music and composers. “I’ve always felt it’s my responsibility as a 21st century composer to write for the instruments of my time. As a composer depending on marginal technologies I’ve all but given up the fight and stopped composing and performing. MAPPS is a timely, important and essential project that will support, sustain, and inspire the next generation of contemporary composers and new media artists.”

Renowned San Francisco Symphony violinist, Daniel Kobialka, who has had four Pulitzer Prize composers write for him, claims, “MAPPS is the greatest “sound product vision" of this century and needs support to be completed in all of its vast dimensionality and versatility.”

Futurist Jaron Lanier, the inventor of “Virtual Reality” says, “This is the start of a new musical culture. The importance of this development cannot be overstated.” Max Mathews calls BEAM’s efforts, “the most important musical endeavor of this century… essential to ensure the future of new music.” Mathews, widely considered the father of computer music, was the first to teach a computer to sing in 1962 at Bell Laboratories. The song was “Daisy,” memorialized in “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

BEAM believes it’s now possible to create an enduring scoring environment that will give a deserving composition longevity and ubiquity. These technologies exist but they need to be normalized and contained within an expandable robust framework for creation and reuse. The MAPPS development is a long-term project, expected to require 3-5 years, serious funding and the efforts of an international committee of composers, technologists and performers to complete. Fortunately many of these experts are already on the BEAM Foundation’s board. Along with those quoted above, the board includes: David Wessel, Professor of Music at UC Berkeley and founder of the International Computer Music Conference; Dave Smith, inventor of MIDI; Don Buchla and Tom Oberheim, both synthesizer pioneers; John Chowning, inventor of FM synthesis, and Naut Humon, digital arts savant and curator of Recombinant Media Labs.

About BEAM Foundation BEAM Foundation is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to creating optimal conditions to spark a new music revolution, one in which composers, musicians and instruments react instantaneously via a powerful and highly intelligent computerized network yielding a new complexity and intimacy in music. The foundation is based in Berkeley, CA. More information is available on the website: http://www.beamfoundation.org/

Contact: Mark Russo, Beam Foundation
Phone 415 883 1095
E mail: mark@beamfoundation.org