Publication Date

Fall 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Music and Dance


Brian Belet


Buchla, Electronic music technology, Ghost score, Morton Subotnick, Sound art, Voltage-controlled synthesis

Subject Areas

Music; Musical Performances


This thesis investigates the ghost works of Morton Subotnick and their contribution to the world of sound art and electronic music technologies. Subotnick's work in this area is an integral part of his outstanding achievements, on which there is little collected research. The discussion focuses on the development of Subotnick's designs and techniques that he applied to the construction of the ghost works. Through an exploration of earlier background details, it is shown that tape recording, voltage-controlled technologies, and the analog sequencer provided Subotnick with the means to follow his vision and begin creating "music as studio art." An examination of these technologies and the creative manner in which he applied them reveal how Subotnick established a vehicle for his life's work in the early sixties, from which he created notable electronic works. An assessment of Subotnick's work from the early seventies shows that the composer's methods progressed using a variety of compositional elements, including electronics and traditional acoustic orchestral instruments, the culmination of which resulted in the creation of the ghost compositions in the mid-seventies. The evaluation of these works reveals Subotnick's aptitude with real-time analog signal processing and his standing as a significant American composer.