V.J. Manzo

human being

A Little Bit of Everything About V.J.

"I compose and perform music in a variety of styles. I began studying guitar at 13 years old (1995); my primary childhood passions prior to then were my comic book collection, Petra , and Seinfeld, but, to me, learning to play guitar is where the real story begins! I've been writing music since that time. In high school , my love of alternative and classic rock led to my love of progressive rock, and eventually, to fall in love with classical music. As an undergraduate music education major, I studied classical guitar and began composing art music and music for theatre in addition to the songs I'd been writing for my band to perform. Around the same time, I transitioned from going in to studios for recording time (on 1-inch tape!), to recording and making music using computers.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I taught K-12 music in a private school, and opened an after-school music center, called KAMA, while also attending grad school. During that time, I learned how to program small music apps, so that I could better explain music theory concepts to my students. From this interest, I built the Modal Object Library, a toolkit for the programming language Max/MSP, that demonstrates modal relationships, harmonic analysis, and so on. I used that toolkit to make apps that made it easier for my students to play diatonic chords, especially students with disabilities or other difficulties playing traditional instruments; that project was called EAMIR. The EAMIR apps I wrote allowed my students to use video game controllers, sensors, color-tracking, and so on, to play chords and scales. This made it easier for me to discuss concepts like chord progressions and harmonic resolution since students could then readily demonstrate the concepts I was discussing. I later formed EAMIR into a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational charity organization that aims to connect musicians, educators, researchers, and developers in a collaborative community to create open-source applications and resources that support musicianship.

The notion of separating the physical actions of performance from the cognitive processes of music-making quickly became one of my primary research interests; once you get software in charge of making the physical performance gestures easier, you can map anything, a switch, a button, a swipe, to control whatever musical variables you like. That concept, I found, is great for beginners, and way interesting when used with professional performers of traditional instruments; that's when I began composing electro-acoustic music. I also incorporated many of these ideas into my multimedia environments, mobile apps, and educational games that I've published through my company Clear Blue Media.

When I completed my Master's, I began teaching music courses at a few universities, as well as presenting at academic conferences and giving guest lectures. Shortly after I began my PhD studies, I was invited to write a book for Oxford University Press (OUP) entitled Max/MSP/Jitter for Music, which described how to develop technologies that facilitate composition, performance, education, music therapy, and so on; a topic I had been covering in the university courses I was teaching. I've since authored a few more books with OUP as well as journal articles about music technology, and, in general, the use of technology to facilitate musicianship in novel ways. I was the editor of the Music Business & Industry component of the College Music Society's peer-reviewed journal Symposium, and am the founding editor of a book series with OUP called Creating Technology for Music , which addresses the tradition of toolmaking to support creative activites.

After completing my doctorate, I joined the WPI music faculty where I teach courses in composition, music programming, and other topics in music technology. I enjoy seeing different parts of the world , and through WPI, I've had the opportunity to live in different places for several months at a time, including New Zealand, London, and Copenhagen, while advising student teams working with NGOs established in those regions. My students are a great inspiration to me, and it's exciting for me when I'm able to involve them in my research, publications, and presentations in addition to my creative projects, which includes projects related to my efforts with EAMIR, and Clear Blue Media. I’m the founding director and PI of two research labs at WPI—the Electric Guitar Innovation Lab (EGIL), and the Interactive Music Systems Lab (IMSLab)— through which I work with colleagues and students to explore the convergence of musicianship and technology. I also co-direct the Media Arts Group Innovation Center (MAGIC) with my colleagues in the WPI Music Divison. I enjoy collaborating with my students and supporting their own creative ideas. Although I primarily teach university students, in 2012, I began and continue to direct a music technology summer camp for kids where we get to try out many of the software and hardware prototypes that we develop in my labs.

Today, I continue to compose , perform , lecture, and, in general, do musical things. I'm proud to volunteer on several advisory boards and outreach efforts, and I'm also a pet-parent to several rescue animals . I hope you enjoy taking a look around this site and seeing a bit of what I've been up to through the years."

View Brief Bio
Apps Developed
Books Written
Cups of Coffee

Some Featured Projects

Highlights from V.J.'s music, books, tech, and more...


My non-profit music tech charity

Interactive Music Systems

Interactive Music Systems

Some of my tech-based music systems
Featured Music

Featured Music

Some of my music in a variety of styles


My books about music & tech
Clear Blue Media

Clear Blue Media

My company that creates mixed media