Hardcover | ISBN: 9780262028769
248 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 8 b&w photos
2 charts| March 2015

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In the 1960s, a team of Stanford musicians, engineers, computer scientists, and psychologists used computing in an entirely novel way: to produce and manipulate sound and create the sonic basis of new musical compositions. This group of interdisciplinary researchers at the nascent Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA, pronounced "karma") helped to develop computer music as an academic field, invent the technologies that underlie it, and usher in the age of digital music. In The Sound of Innovation, Andrew Nelson chronicles the history of CCRMA, tracing its origins in Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory through its present-day influence on Silicon Valley and digital music groups worldwide.

Nelson emphasizes CCRMA's interdisciplinarity, which stimulates creativity at the intersections of fields; its commitment to open sharing and users; and its pioneering commercial engagement. He shows that Stanford's outsized influence on the emergence of digital music came from the intertwining of these three modes, which brought together diverse supporters with different aims around a field of shared interest. Nelson thus challenges long-standing assumptions about the divisions between art and science, between the humanities and technology, and between academic research and commercial applications, showing how the story of a small group of musicians reveals substantial insights about innovation.

Download the book
The Sound of Innovation is published under a Creative Commons license and is available for free download. The HTML version includes direct links to archival documents and media examples.

Access the archives
A companion website includes hundreds of archival documents, organized by key people, organizations and technologies, and matched to chapters and footnotes in The Sound of Innovation.

Listen to the music
The companion website also contains links to key compositions and performances, along with photo archives

Email: ajnelson (at) uoregon.edu

"The Sound of Innovation deftly unpacks the relationship between university research, commercial interests, and new innovation-driven fields. Nelson reveals both the opportunities and the tensions that emerge at unexpected intersections, interweaving a story of entrepreneurial individuals with a rich and detailed sociological analysis. The result is an unprecedented investigation into the origins and impact of interdisciplinary innovations in the creative arts."
- Fiona Murray, Associate Dean for Innovation and William Porter (1967) Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship, MIT Sloan School of Management

"The Sound of Innovation goes beyond many chronicles of inventive, entrepreneurial, or organizational success, in not glossing over the uncertainties, obstacles, and serious setbacks, and in offering a structured analysis of the particular, concrete instantiations of processes that re-conceptualizes them in more general and abstract terms. With the aid of fresh frameworks and concepts . . . its author arrives at important concluding insights that should be welcomed by those concerned with the formulation of public policies for science, technology, and innovation."
- Paul A. David, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Stanford University; Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research; Emeritus Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford

"Even as a forty-year veteran of the synthesizer industry, I learned a ton from The Sound of Innovation. While the legal and business considerations are interesting on their own, it's their intertwining with musical and technological developments that makes this story so magical."
- Dave Smith, legendary instrument designer, Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society, and 2013 Grammy winner

"Every year brings a new crop of books promising the secret formula to innovation in your organization. Very few are based on research and evidence. By bringing to life the story of the remarkable fusion of music and computer science at Stanford, Andrew Nelson has provided a work of not only insight but also usefulness. Everyone in government, business, and academia should read it."
- Dane Stangler, Vice President, Research & Policy, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

About the Author
Andrew Nelson is Associate Professor of Management and Bramsen Faculty Fellow in innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability at the University of Oregon. He received his PhD and BA from Stanford University, where he subsequently served as a Lecturer. Andrew also holds an MSc (with distinction) from Oxford University. More information on his research and teaching activities can be found at: http://pages.uoregon.edu/ajnelson

© 2019 Andrew Nelson