Daniel McKemie: Control Surfaces

The music contained in this collection was written using a Commodore 64 computer and modular synthesizer. The C64 acted as the control mechanism for the synthesizer, programmed in BASIC and generating voltages using a series of envelope followers then routed to the synthesizer.

A short research paper outlining the approach of this work was written for (and ultimately rejected by) the International Computer Music Conference 2020, so I decided to publish it here. The paper aims to illustrate a short historical explanation of this kind of electronic music, with an emphasis on the work of José Vicente Asuar. Asuar's approach to hybrid computer/hardware systems has been a large influence on my work as a whole, but particularly with this set of pieces. A PDF of the paper is available below, as well as some code samples used in the composition of these pieces.

All music composed and recorded by Daniel McKemie; 2019-20

Mixed and mastered by Ryan Ross Smith, who without his help, this record would have never been released


Analog-digital hybrid electronic music systems once existed out of necessity in order to facilitate a flexible work environment for the creation of live computer music. As computational power increased with the development of faster microprocessors, the need for digital functionality with analog sound production decreased, with the computer becoming more capable of handling both tasks. Given the exclusivity of these systems and the relatively short time they were in use, the possibilities of such systems were hardly explored. The work of José Vicente Asuar best demonstrated a push for accessibility of such systems, but he never received the support of any institution in order to bring his machine widespread attention. Modeled after his approach, using a Commodore 64 (or freely available OS emulator) and analog modular hardware, this paper aims to fashion a system that is accessible, affordable, easy to use, educational, and musically rich in nature.

Control Surfaces: Using the Commodore 64 and Analog Synthesizer to Expand Musical Boundaries


You may find some examples of C64 code in the attached text file. You can take these pieces and type them up in your C64 editor, or in an emulator, and hear the results. The code samples here are intended to serve as a jumping off point to see how BASIC can be utilized for musical purposes, but also if you wish to hook your synthesizer up to such a device. I have more code samples for those interested, and I would love to hear the result of any work people make with this approach. Some of these samples were adapted from C64 manuals (as seen in the research paper bibliography), and manuals on programming mathematical functions in BASIC.

TXT file of code samples