Gareth Loy


Gareth Loy

President, Gareth Inc. & author of Musimathics


Steps to a theory of musical interest


Full set of keynote videos at


Abstract: Music must compete with many things for our fleeting attention, and music lives or dies in the attempt. To live to be heard another day, music must be successful in Darwinian terms, which it must do by attracting and holding our interest. With the advent of powerful computers and large music databases, we should now be able to develop a functional theory of musical interest that would allow us to study the microstructure of musical interest. This talk proposes a formal approach to musical interest and expectation based on ideas drawn from cognitive science, information theory, connectionism, and music theory.




Biosketch: Gareth Loy has been a life-long musician and music technologist. He is the author of Musimathics, a two-volume introduction and reference to the mathematics of music published by the MIT Press. A skilled string instrumentalist, singer, and composer, he has a BA in performance of classical guitar and a DMA from Stanford in computer music, where he studied under John Chowning at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics in the late 1970’s. There he developed the compiler for the Systems Concepts Digital Synthesizer (Samson Box). His thesis composition, Nekya, written for the Samson Box, won a Bourges prize. He worked for Jef Raskin (inventor of the Macintosh computer) at Apple Computer in 1979-1980. He co-founded the Computer Audio Research Laboratory at UCSD, then worked for a variety of companies in Silicon Valley. He has sustained a long and successful career at the cutting edge of audio and multimedia computing, and now provides litigation support through his company, Gareth, Inc. He resides with his wife Lisa in Marin County.


Personal website:


Mathematics and Computation in Music