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Forrest Tobey
Professor of Music

Forrest Tobey teaches a wide variety of courses in music and conducts Earlham’s symphony orchestra. He has also led Earlham’s Tibetan Studies off-campus program. Among his scholarly interests are human/machine interfaces via gestural control and Tibetan Buddhist ritual music. 

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 31



247 Center for Visual and Performing Arts

Office Hours


  • Music
  • Arts Management Integrated Pathway
  • Contemplative Studies Integrated Pathway
  • Digital Arts Integrated Pathway


  • D.M.A., Peabody Conservatory of Music
  • M.M., Western Washington University
  • M.M., Peabody Conservatory of Music
  • B.A., Whitworth College
  • B.M., Western Washington University

Selected Courses:

Making Music with Computers opens the student up to experimental music using the programs Max/MSP and Ableton Live. 

My three semester music theory sequence is based on my own material and transcends the usual music theory to include areas of philosophical and spiritual inquiry.  

"The Beatles and Their Time," an investigation of the Beatles music and their historical period, and "Music and the Esoteric Traditions," which looks at various musics from the standpoint of deeper understandings of physical and psychic reality.

  • Human/machine interfaces via gestural control.
  • Tibetan buddhist ritual music music theory instruction as a gateway to the understanding of universal principles of inner and outer harmony.


The interaction between gesture and computer. How does a computer respond musically to human gesture? Currently exploring the deep relationship between music and mathematics. I aspire to be Magister Ludi, the master of the Glass Bead Game.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. World Premiere, echoic landscape. April, 2011. Forrest Tobey, Buchla Lightning Performer.

  • International Computer Music Association 
  • Collegiate Orchestra Conductor's Association 
  • College Music Society

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Ramsey, New Jersey, educated in the states of Washington, Colorado and Maryland and spent 3 significant years living in India. I play the piano, loving Bach and Beethoven, Debussy and Ravel, Gershwin and Copland, but also eternally drawn to the candle flame of jazz playing, revering Evans and Monk, Miles and Coltrane, Jarrett and Corea. I compose, but want to compose more, much more. The clock is ticking. My music is inflected by mode because of my love of Indian classical music and jazz, but there's the experimental side as well because of the odd things I've done with computers and gestures. I'm a Buchla Lightning performer. I've played Times Square and the National Gallery. I'm not done with that yet. Now I teach at Earlham College. I love it, it's a great place to be. I'm here for the long haul.