Illiac Suite

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Illiac Suite (later retitled String Quartet No. 4)[1] is a 1957 composition for string quartet which is generally agreed to be the first score composed by an electronic computer.[2] Lejaren Hiller, in collaboration with Leonard Isaacson, programmed the ILLIAC I computer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (where both composers were professors) to generate compositional material for his String Quartet No. 4.

The piece consists of four movements, corresponding to four experiments: the first is about the generation of cantus firmi, the second generates four-voice segments with various rules, the third deals with rhythm, dynamics and playing instructions, and the fourth with various models and probabilities for generative grammars or Markov chains.[3]


  1. ^ Andrew Stiller, "Hiller, Lejaren (Arthur)", Grove Music Online (reviewed December 3, 2010; accessed December 14, 2014).
  2. ^ Denis L. Baggi, "The Role of Computer Technology in Music and Musicology", (December 9, 1998).
  3. ^ Lejaren A. Hiller and Leonard M. Isaacson, Experimental Music: Composition With an Electronic Computer, second edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1959): 5–7. Reprinted, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979. ISBN 978-0-313-22158-3.

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