Stream_l__i___n____e_____s (after Robert Lawrence) by Matthew Schumaker, 2019

Stream_l__i___n____e_____s (after Robert Lawrence), 2019
Courtesy of Matthew Schumaker

Stream_l__i___n____e_____s (after Robert Lawrence) by Matthew Schumaker is a musical piece for clarinet and computer that honors a pioneering jet pilot, 2019.

Stream_l__i___n____e_____s (after Robert Lawrence) is a work for clarinet and real-time computer accompaniment composed by Matthew Schumaker [2019-20 MIT MLK Visiting Scholar] as an homage to the pilot Robert Henry Lawrence.

In 1967, Lawrence was the first African-American selected for a space program. He logged more than 2,000 hours flying jets, including the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, and he studied a difficult steep-descent gliding technique called the flare maneuver—work that contributed significantly to the development of the Space Shuttle. Tragically, Lawrence died in a training accident. His role in the space program fell into obscurity until the 1990s, when his widow and his colleagues successfully petitioned NASA to acknowledge his contributions and inscribe his name on the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Center in Florida.


Schumaker used computer-assisted composition techniques for this project, developing programs that enabled him to engage with the sound and science of flight and develop the jet metaphor in the musical material. In one case, he draws the harmony directly from audio recordings of the F-104 Starfighter plane.

Project lead:
Matthew Schumaker, Project Lead and Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar, Music and Theater Arts, MIT

Wesley Harris, C.S. Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT

Launched: April 14, 2019 at the Cambridge Science Festival, commissioned by Dinosaur Annex.

Arts at MIT



Timeline: 2010s
School: School of EngineeringSchool of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Department: Aeronautics and AstronauticsMusic and Theater Arts
Career: Arts & HumanitiesMilitaryTechnology
Object: Audio
Collection: Critical Mass 1955-1968, Faculty, Martin Luther King, Jr., Music, NASA, Rising Voices 1995-Present, Wesley L. Harris