David Wessel's Inventive Directorship of UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT)

TitleDavid Wessel's Inventive Directorship of UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsFreed, Adrian
Refereed DesignationRefereed
JournalThe Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Date Published2017
AbstractThe main professional focus of David Wessel’s final 30 years was the development and nurturing of UC Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT). Jean-Baptiste Barrière succinctly described David Wessel as bringing a scientific consciousness to music and a musical consciousness to science. This was manifest in CNMAT practice by building apparatus/instruments that served musical production AND research-apparatus that was concurrently validated as novel and significant in three communities: music, science and engineering. I present the major achievements of CNMAT and the special transdisciplinary practices that made the center so productive for its modest size in its 3 concurrent spheres: research, music creation, and education. This will include a brief case study of CNMAT’s unique acoustics research apparatus, a 141-driver spherical speaker array. Larger institutions attempted unsuccessfully to create such a high resolution array. David Wessel led CNMAT’s success by attracting strong researchers and support engineers over an extended period, creatively finding funding from a diverse combination of extra-mural, government and industry sources, bringing together experts from multiple institutions internationally and tapping the intellectual capital of the UC Berkeley academic community. I conclude by pointing out recent initiatives of David’s mentees who carry CNMAT practices in their work.