Forrest Tobey, D.M.A.

Professor of music

Email:[email protected]

Department: Music
Media and Communications

Program: Arts Management applied minor
Contemplative Studies applied minor
Digital Arts applied minor

Location: Center for Visual and Performing Arts Room 247
801 National Road
Richmond, Indiana 47374

About me

I am a very eclectic musician. I am the music director of the Earlham Orchestra and teach courses in Western Music Theory and in Music Technology, where I oversee the computer music track. I play both classical and jazz piano and compose both acoustic and electro-acoustic music when the mood suits me.

My recordings include an album of my original piano music, released online as “Awakening” and an online album with my band Off Chants, called “Dancing Down the Dawn,” which is a creative blend of jazz, folk and Indian classical music. A new album of works based on chant, recorded in collaboration with Lynnell Lewis, is forthcoming.

My involvement with computer music focuses on the use of the computer for interactive live performance. On December 31, 1999, I performed live computer music with the Buchla Lightning at the start of the Millennium celebrations in Times Square. Since then, I have focused my attention on working with a number of real-time controllers, including the Kinect, the Ableton Push, the Roli Seaboard, and the Moog Matriarch synthesizer.

In addition to my musical studies, I am deeply committed to Earlham’s Tibetan Studies in India program, which I have led in the past and will lead again in the future.

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 am 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.


  • 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

Professional Memberships

Research projects

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

Scholarly interest

Human/machine interfaces via gestural control.

Tibetan Buddhist ritual music theory instruction as a gateway to the understanding of universal principles of inner and outer harmony.

Published works

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

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.