I first made electronic music in the mid-1980s when I was about twelve
years old, using an Apple IIe computer that my father brought home
from work. I was absorbed in it for months, coaxing melodies out of
programs I wrote in the basic language. As a self-taught musician
who had played piano for years without formal lessons, for me the
computer was simply a new means of working with sounds. As I had
with the piano, I would figure it out mostly by trial and error. Today, I
still play the piano, and I also compose with midi instruments, digital
audio, and the programming language SuperCollider (Rodgers 2006;
MacDonald 2007). I often attribute my facility with electronic music
to my father’s interests and support. He is a self-described audiophile
and early adopter of computer technologies, and he shared with me
his record collection, enthusiasm for home recording, and knowledge
about hi-fi audio systems and computers. It came as a surprise, then,
when recently I unearthed in a closet an old 78 that my mother re-
corded as an amateur pianist in high school. Mom cut a record? I asked
a few more questions and found out that in the early decades of the
twentieth century, my great-aunt was a pianist for silent films in Al-
bany, New York, and my grandmother used a stenotype machine in
her work as a secretary. In a small town in western New York, my
other grandmother was a Morse telegrapher and teletypist at her
job with an agriculture company in the 1940s. So while my father’s
audiophility was an obvious lineage for me to identify and claim, it
turned out there were clear precedents for music and computing ex-
perience in generations of women before me in my family.1 Even after
I had conducted dozens of interviews for this collection and its online
predecessor Pinknoises.com, I still defaulted to stereotypical assump-
tions about gender, audio, and computer technologies in my personal
history.
Introduction
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