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  • Women Composers and Music Technology in the United States: Crossing the Line
  • Renée McBride
Women Composers and Music Technology in the United States: Crossing the Line. By Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2006. [301 p. ISBN 0754604616. $79.95.] Index, bibliography, discography, webliography.

As Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner notes in her introductory overview of the history of publishing about women and music, this history contains lacunae regarding avantgarde women composers, particularly of the post-World War II period. Her recent Women Composers and Music Technology in the United States makes great headway in filling these gaps and is the most substantial publication to date to investigate the achievements of women composers of electroacoustic music, defined as "[music] which uses technology as a tool and gives the composer access to virtually any sound" (p. 5). Hinkle-Turner brings her experience as a composer of such music to this project. She received her D.M.A. in music composition from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, served as acting director of the [End Page 619] electronic and computer music studios at Florida International University and the Experimental Music Studios at the University of Iowa, and currently teaches twentieth-century music and multimedia applications in music theory in the University of North Texas, College of Music.

Hinkle-Turner builds on earlier, more narrowly focused publications in her survey of approximately 150 electroacoustic works by more than 100 women composers in the United States, including music educators, independent artists, and technological inventors, and covers the period from the 1930s to the present. While most of the composers were born in the United States, a few are included who were born elsewhere, but have worked extensively here and are essential to its history of electroacoustic music, e.g., Annea Lockwood (New Zealand), Thea Musgrave (Scotland) and Jin Hi Kim, and Insook Choi (South Korea). Discussions include biographical information, particularly as it sheds light on the conception and creation of the composers' music; analyses of works; technical reviews of equipment and construction methods when deemed helpful in understanding a work; and composers' reflections on working as a woman in the world of music technology. Most of Hinkle-Turner's research draws on the primary sources of interviews, personal correspondence, the composers' writings, and unpublished vitas, biographies, and program notes sent to her by the composers.

While Hinkle-Turner focuses on the period from the 1930s onward, she opens her second chapter "Precedents and Pioneers" with mention of Lady Ada Lovelace (1815– 1852), who contributed to the work of Charles Babbage, inventor of the first calculating machine, the Difference Engine. According to Hinkle-Turner, Lovelace was the first person to suggest that such a machine might write music, thus constituting the earliest known connection between women and electroacoustic music. Hinkle-Turner moves forward through time with an overview of experimentation with various music machines, observing that German-American composer Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888–1944) scored one of the first pieces for purely electronic instruments, Music of the Spheres (1938), an interlude piece for Beyer's opera Status Quo. Incorporated into Hinkle-Turner's survey of composers is a discussion of organizations that were crucial to the development of electroacoustic music composition. During the World War II era, technological advances led to the creation of large communication centers such as the Office de radiodiffusion et télévision français (Paris) and Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Cologne, Germany). In United States academia, Columbia and Princeton universities collaborated in 1959 to create the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (CPEMC), whose example stimulated the establishment of additional academic studios such as those at the University of Illinois (1959), the University of Toronto (1959), the San Francisco Tape Center (1962), and Mills College (1966). Hinkle-Turner chronicles the substantial and sometimes overlooked contributions of women to the success of the CPEMC and other electronic music facilities. In addition to investigating women's early work with electronic composition and studios, Hinkle-Turner examines women's early digital research. In this context she discusses the importance to electroacoustic composition of Bell Laboratories and women who worked there, particularly Joan Miller (b. 1931) and Laurie Spiegel (b. 1945).



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