HUGH LECAINE (1914 - 1977)
Canadian scientist and composer Hugh Le Caine was brought up in Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay, in northwestern Ontario. At an early age he began building musical instruments and experimenting with electronic devices. In his youth he imagined "beautiful sounds" that he believed could be realised through new electronic inventions. After earning his M.Sc. from Queen's University in 1939, Le Caine joined the National Research Council in Ottawa. There he worked on the development of the first radar systems and in atomic physics, distinguishing himself as a scientist and publishing significant papers in those fields. At home he continued to pursue his interest in electronic music and sound generation. He established a personal studio in 1945, where he began to work independantly on the design of electronic musical instruments. On the strength of his public demonstrations of his instruments, he was permitted to move his musical activities to the NRC and to work on them full time in 1954. Over the next twenty years he built over 22 different new instruments, and collaborated in the developmetn of electronic music studios at the University of Toronto and McGill University. Le Caine taught at both universities and influenced a generation of composers of electroaccoustic music. His composition Dripsody must still rank as the most played example of musique concrète, though he was extremely modest about his work: "I did not regard myself as a composer. However, I felt that the only way to understand the composer's interest in the apparatus wsa to use the equipment myself in the various current musical forms." When someone asked why he called his first composition Dripsody he repied: "Because it was written by a drip".
Biography courtesy the Canadian Music Centre