Dr John Chowning, FM Synthesis Godfather, To Keynote Knobcon 2019

The organizers of the annual Knobcon synthesizer convention today announced FM synthesis pioneer Dr. John Chowning as their guest of honor at this year’s event.

Following military service in a Navy band and university studies at Wittenberg University, Chowning, aided by Max Mathews of Bell Telephone Laboratories and David Poole of Stanford, set up a computer music program, using the computer system of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 1964.

In 1967, Chowning discovered and developed an algorithm for generating complex sounds using frequency modulation (FM). This breakthrough in the synthesis of timbres allowed a very simple but elegant way of creating and controlling time-varying spectra. In 1977, Stanford University licensed the FM synthesis patent to Yamaha in Japan, leading to wildly successful family of synthesizers.

In addition to his keynote address at the annual banquet, Chowning will be hosting a workshop during the three-day Knobcon event entitled “Learn FM Synthesis From The Man Who Wrote The Patent.”

Knobcon bills itself “the world’s only synthesizer convention,” and is celebrating its eighth year this fall. The event features electronic music performances, workshops, and an exhibition hall populated by dozens of electronic musical instrument vendors. Attendees have access to a broad range of equipment and visit with creators of some of today’s most innovative synthesizer products.

Knobcon happens September 6 – 8 in suburban Chicago, Illinois, at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg. For information about the convention, participating exhibitors, the banquet gala featuring Dr. Chowning, and so on, visit the Knobcon website.

7 thoughts on “Dr John Chowning, FM Synthesis Godfather, To Keynote Knobcon 2019

    1. Take a trip to Durham for Moogfest sometime!

      It’s about a five hour trip for me to go to Knobcon, but the trip is worth it!

      1. It would feel wrong since I don’t have a Moog. Once I can afford to get a Sub 37 (original, not Subsequent) I will get one then I will feel eligible to go…..lol

  1. … they do no longer pretend to be “the world’s only synthesizer convention” – that would be very arrogant.

    1. I was wondering about this as well when I was there in 2017 and one of the veteran attendees filled me in. Apparently Suit and Tie Guy, who is behind Knobcon, has a very specific definition of “convention” in this context – it takes place at a hotel, over a period of multiple days, and there is a banquet with a guest speaker. STG is a bit of a character so I think the “world’s only synthesizer convention” claim, fitting that specific definition, is meant to be tongue in cheek more than anything else.

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