Richard Boulanger

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Richard Charles Boulanger
Born (1956-11-10) November 10, 1956 (age 62)
Fall River, Massachusetts, United States
GenresElectronic, Computer music
Occupation(s)Composer, musician, professor
InstrumentsSynthesizer, guitar, trumpet, radio baton, controllers

Richard Charles Boulanger (born 10 November 1956) is a composer, author, and electronic musician. He is a key figure in the development of the audio programming language Csound, and is associated with computer music gurus Max Mathews and Barry Vercoe.



After graduating from Somerset High School in 1974,[1] Boulanger attended New England Conservatory of Music as an undergraduate, where his thesis was a commission by Alan R. Pearlman[2] for the Newton Symphony titled "Three Soundscapes for Two Arp 2600 Synthesizers and Orchestra".[3] After pursuing a Master's in composition from Virginia Commonwealth University, where Allan Blank was amongst his professors, he obtained a Ph.D. in computer music from the University of California, San Diego[4] where he worked at the Center for Music Experiment and Related Research. Boulanger continued his computer music research at Bell Labs, the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Interval Research, IBM, and One Laptop per Child.[5] In 1989, Boulanger became a Fulbright professor at the Academy of Music in Kraków, Poland.[3]

Boulanger's teachers include Andrée Desautels, Nadia Boulanger,[6] Pauline Oliveros,[7] Aaron Copland, and Hugo Norden.[1]

Professional life[edit]

For me, music is a medium through which the inner spiritual essence of all things is revealed and shared. Compositionally, I am interested in extending the voice of the traditional performer through technological means to produce a music which connects with the past, lives in the present and speaks to the future. Educationally, I am interested in helping students see technology as the most powerful instrument for the exploration, discovery, and realization of their essential musical nature – their inner voice.

— Richard Boulanger[8]

Boulanger started studying at the MIT Experimental Music Studion in 1979 with Barry Vercoe,[9] where he also worked with fellow computer musician John ffitch.[10] While working with Vercoe, Boulanger composed the first Csound composition, Trapped In Convert, which was originally written using MUSIC 11, the precursor to Csound. The piece was ported to Csound in 1986.[11] The same year, Boulanger's composition Three Chapters from the Book of Dreams‚ was awarded first prize in the NEWCOMP International Computer Music Competition.[12]

In 1990, Boulanger wrote the first vocal composition using the microtonal Bohlen-Pierce scale,[13] Solemn Song for Evening,[14] which also features a radio baton. His compositions have appeared on albums including iChamber (Centaur Records, 2003: Virtual Encounters) and Electro-Acoustic Music, Vol. 1 (Neuma, 1990: From Temporal Silence), and his interactive orchestral and chamber music compositions have been premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Seoul Opera House, and the Beijing Central Conservatory. Boulanger's Radio Baton and PowerGlove Concerto was premiered by the Krakow and Moscow Symphonies.[5][15]

The Csound-based iOS apps csGrain, csSpectral, and csJam were developed by Boulanger's company Boulanger Labs,[16] which also published MUSE, an app for the Leap Motion controller developed in collaboration with BT. Boulanger later composed a concerto for strings and horns with himself as a MUSE soloist.[17] Boulanger also works with brainwave sensor technology to create "brainwave" music, utilizing interfaces such as NeuroSky's MindWave Mobile EEG Headset.[17]

Boulanger is a published author under the MIT Press, for which he has written and edited two canonical Csound[18] and audio programming textbooks, the latter having been co-edited with Victor Lazzarini.[19]

Recent works[edit]

At Moogfest 2017, Boulanger was part of the Berklee College of Music delegation that presented technology for modular synthesizer ensembles, primarily developed by one of Boulanger's proteges and current Berklee faculty Matthew Davidson.[20] Boulanger additionally presented "The Sounds of Dreaming", a multi-episodic electronic music opera written, produced, and performed with Nona Hendryx.[21] The project featured custom performance controller systems involving Max/MSP/Jitter, OSC, live video synthesis, DMX lighting and Arduino instruments developed by Boulanger and his students. A revised version of the opera was presented in August 2017 at MASS MoCA in collaboration with performance artist Nick Cave.[22]

Since 1986,[23] Boulanger has taught electronic music at Berklee College of Music, and has previously been on faculty at other collegiate institutions such as New York University and Brown University. He continues to present regularly at audio and music events including Audio Engineering Society conventions[24] and International Csound Conferences,[25][26] and is an advocate of integrating music technology with music therapy,[27] some of which he has developed with his students.[28] He was a presenter at the Music & Science Symposium organized by Berklee's Music Therapy department in 2013,[29] and at Berklee Electronic Production & Design department's inaugural Voltage Connect Conference in 2017.[5] In October of the same year, Boulanger and Michael Bierylo, chairman of Berklee's Electronic Production & Design department, visited the Shanghai Vocational School of Contemporary Music and attended the 43rd International Computer Music Conference as presenters.[30]

Boulanger's notable students include Elaine Walker, BT,[31][32] DJ Gomi, Yoon Sang,[33] Marcel Chyrzyński,[34] Tobias Enhus,[35] and Paris Smaragdis.[7]

Boulanger currently resides with his family in Dighton, Massachusetts.[17]


  • Boulanger, Richard, ed. (6 March 2000). The Csound Book: Perspectives in Software Synthesis, Sound Design, Signal Processing, and Programming. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262522618.
  • Boulanger, Richard; Lazzarini, Victor, eds. (22 October 2010). The Audio Programming Book. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262014465.


Selected radio baton compositions[edit]

From the Csounds website:[36]

  • From the Shadows, for solo Radio Baton and Violin (1987, revised 2012 with addition of Csound for Live)[37][38]
  • Solemn Songs for Evening (1990),[39] premiered by Maureen Chowning at the International Electronic Music Festival at Bourges, France[14]
  • I Know of No Geometry, for solo Radio Baton and Csound5 (1990, revised 2010)[40][41]
  • At Last ... Free for Radio Baton (reworked 1999)[42]


  • Boulanger (1986). "Toward a New Age of Performance: Reading the Book of Dreams with the Mathews Electronic Violin", Perspectives of New Music 24, no. 2 (Spring–Summer): 130–55. Errata in 25, nos. 1&2 (Winter–Summer 1987): 655.
  • Boulanger, ed. (1999) The Csound Book. ISBN 978-0262522618.
  • Boulanger, ed. (2010). The Audio Programming Book. ISBN 978-0262014465.


  1. ^ a b George Austin (15 October 2014). "Boulanger: These are the doors Musictown can open". South Coast Today. GateHouse Media, LLC. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Fingerpainting Soundscapes: Muse for Leap Motion and the Berklee Symphony Orchestra". Leap Motion. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Dr. Richard Boulanger; Professor; Music Synthesis Department; Berklee College of Music". Berklee. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Richard Boulanger". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Voltage Connect Conference Presenters". Berklee. Berklee College of Music. 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  6. ^ Boivin, Jean (2013). "Providing the Taste of Learning: Nadia Boulanger's Lasting Imprint on Canadian Music" (PDF). Musical Perspectives, People, and Places: Essays in Honour of Carl Morey. 33 (2). doi:10.7202/1032696ar. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  7. ^ a b Smaragdis, Paris. "My musical lineage since the 1600s" (PDF). University of Illinois. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Developers: Dr. Richard Boulanger". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  9. ^ Baxter, Michael (November 2003). "Csound: An Interview with Dr. Richard Boulanger". The Linux Documentation Project. Linux Gazette. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  10. ^ "national open studio for Development & Research in Electro-Acoustic Media". Department of Computer Science. University of Bath. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  11. ^ Joaquin, Jacob (15 September 2010). "Beginning Csound with Boulanger". CodeHop.
  12. ^ "Audio Art Festival 2000" (PDF). Goethe-Institute Kraków. University of Kraków. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  13. ^ Loy, Gareth. Musimathics: The Mathematical Foundations of Music, Volume 1. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. p. 92.
  14. ^ a b "Maureen Chowning". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Dr. Richard Boulanger". Sched. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Boulanger Labs csSpectral reviewed". Keyboard. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  17. ^ a b c "How A Music Futurist Composes The Future". wbur 90.9. WBUR. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Hearing the future with Csound". Berklee College of Music. 12 July 2001. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Contributors: Richard Boulanger". MIT Press. MIT. 2018. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Best of Moogfest 2017". ESOTERIC NEWS. 13 May 2017. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  21. ^ "The Sounds of Dreaming". Moogfest. Moog. 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Nona Hendryx & Nick Cave". Mass MoCA. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Expanded Circuitry". Berklee Today. Berklee College of Music. 2005. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  24. ^ "AES New York 2017 Presenter or Author: Richard Boulanger". AES. Audio Engineering Society. 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Berklee Hosts International Csound Conference". emusician. NewBay Media, LLC. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  26. ^ "CSOUND.30". Csound. 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  27. ^ "EPD Professor Richard Boulanger Applies Emerging Technology to Music Therapy". Berklee. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  28. ^ "Berklee apps reveal disabled children's musical skills". 4 April 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  29. ^ "Music & Science: Practice & Convergence; An Organic Symposium". Berklee. 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  30. ^ "ICMC 2017". Berklee. International Computer Music Conference. 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  31. ^ Small, Mark. "Brian Transeau". Berklee. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  32. ^ "버클리 음대 Music Synthesis 학과". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  33. ^ Lee, Yoon Sang. "나를 기억하고 있는 너에게 (To You Who Remember Me)". YES24. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  34. ^ "Marcel Chyrzyński". Adam Mickiewicz Institute. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  35. ^ "Enhus lectures at Berklee". Kyma News. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  36. ^ "Dr. Richard Boulanger Music". Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  37. ^ "Composer Anthony Davis hears music in human voice". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  38. ^ "π and beyond" (PDF). UCSB. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  39. ^ Chowning, John (2007). "Fifty Years of Computer Music: Ideas of the Past Speak to the Future". Computer Music Modeling and Retrieval: Sense of Sounds: 7.
  40. ^ "BOULANGER: I KNOW OF NO GEOMETRY". The Bohlen-Pierce Symposium. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  41. ^ "Music and Dance:CalArts Contemporary Music Festival Opens". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  42. ^ "Experimental Music Studio 25". MIT. Retrieved 20 April 2018.

External links[edit]