'A Towering Virtue of Necessity': Interdisciplinarity and the Rise of Computer Music at Vietnam-Era Stanford
Mody, Cyrus C.M.
Nelson, Andrew J.
Stanford, more than most American universities, transformed in the early Cold War into a research powerhouse tied to national security priorities. The budgetary and legitimacy crises that beset the military- industrial- academic research complex in the 1960s thus struck Stanford so deeply that many feared the university itself might not survive. We argue that these crises facilitated the rise of a new kind of interdisciplinarity at Stanford, as evidenced in particular by the founding of the university’s computer music center. Focusing on the “multivocal technology” of computer music, we investigate the relationships between Stanford’s broader institutional environment and the interactions among musicians, engineers, administrators, activists, and funders in order to explain the emergence of one of the most creative and profi table loci for Stanford’s contributions to industry and the arts.
history of science