RIP James Brown (1933-2006)

I cannot let the passing this morning of the Godfather of Soul go unremarked. The music that James Brown launched remains among my favorite popular music – funk and soul from the 1960s and 1970s have a special place in my heart and my CD collection. In particular, I return the 1970s era with the original JB's, funker, grittier and with just the right amount of slop. Indeed, the track “Turn It Up or Let It A-Loose” from the 1970 collection Funk Power was included in the research for my dissertation. I probably have the only PhD dissertation in Computer Science that includes a reference to James Brown in the bibliography. I suppose that's my tribute.

Dissertation now (back) online

I have finally reposted my doctoral dissertation, this time in HTML format as well as PDF. The title is Perceptual Scheduling in Real-time Music and Audio Applications. I propose an algorithm for improving computational performance of expensive synthesis techniques, such as additive synthesis and resonance modeling that preserves audio quality, and measured both the improved CPU performance and the perceptual quality as measured by expert listeners in controlled experiments.

I think this actually a good time to review and reflect upon this work. Five years have passed since I graduated from UC Berkeley with my PhD. I probably have the only doctoral dissertation in Computer Science that includes James Brown as a citation. While I enjoyed working on the dissertation, including the formal experiments, the work I do now developing music software (and then using for my own composition and performance) is really a better match for who I am.

As discussed in an earlier post, I have had a sometimes challenging relationship with academic science. I have the technical and analytical “chops”, but I am too much of a creator and a romantic to find personal meaning and reward in rigorous experiments and analysis of data. I love the aesthetic appeal of science and mathematics, and especially look for unusal and serendipitous connections rather standard incremental results. Simply put, I am an artist, not a scientist, even when I'm working on software engineering projects.