MusBox it’s a music compiler developed to generate command sequences for the Samson Box synthesizer, starting from score file. Has been realized by Gareth Loy at Computer Audio Research Laboratory.

Brief History – At the end of the Seventies the Stanford University’s CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustic) acquired the Samson Box, a digital synthesizer realized by Peter Samson. As it was connected with a computer, many software for sounds processing and synth control are developed. The latter category is that of the MusBox, realized in SAIL programming language in 1981 by Gareth Loy at Computer Audio Research Laboratory, California University in San Diego.

Operation – The Samson Box allowed two main functions: programming sound synthesis algorithms and write score file, in addition to control the synthesizer. Syntax for the score file was similar to that adopted by the Music V, with the exception of some adjustments for additional features. After drawing up the score file, users at the Samson Box could reading it by the MusBox. So, the Gareth Loy’s software could performe a score file conversion to obtain a command sequences time-ordered. We remember that the MusBox could being interfaced with Pla, an utility for score file developed by Bill Schottstaedt at CCRMA once again.[1]

Real Time/Deferred Time – Thanks to specific software, the Samson Box synthesizer could be utilized in real time. In fact, interfacing with those applications, the command sequences obtained with the MusBox allowed to control the synthesizer in live performance. But the Samson Box was not capable of generating in real time the score file (or convert it), due to the low CPU performances in that years.[2]

Music Works – To the detriment of this, the MusBox, together with the Samson Box (and other software), was employed to make many music compositions, even interesting as witnessed by the Dinosaur Music compilation.

Heredity – In the next years Gareth Loy continued to develop computer music software, for which the MusBox has been very significant. After this moment, Gareth Loy has developed a software named Player, reusing features by different software as Pla, 4Ced, Score and, of course, MusBox.[3]


For this topic I’ve read:

[1] Bill Schottstaedt, PLA: A Composer’s Idea of a Language in The Music Machine, edited by Curtis Roads, The MIT Press.

[2] Gareth Loy, Notes on the Implementation of MUSBOX: a Compiler for the System Concepts Digital Synthesizer, Computer Music Journal, Vol. 5 [1], 1981.

[3] Gareth Loy, An Experimental Music Composition Language with Realtime Capabilities, Proceedings of International Computer Music Conference, Rochester, USA, 1983.

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