RIP David Joseph Beckford, co-founder of WaveDNA: 1968-2020

David Joseph Beckford, the co-founder of Toronto-based WaveDNA and the mind behind the company’s Liquid Rhythm software, passed away suddenly on May 28, 2020.

The company has written the following tribute to David:

It is with heavy hearts that we at WaveDNA regret to announce what is both a personal tragedy for everyone on our team and a deep loss for the digital music and software community globally.

David Joseph Beckford, the co-founder of WaveDNA and inventor of the concepts, system, and techniques that are the backbone of  Liquid Rhythm software passed away suddenly on May 28th. Dave had been managing mental health issues while still maintaining his creative spark in the development of more software-based music creation tools.

The blow for us is deep. It is primarily as a result of Dave and his dogged pursuit to innovate digital music tools and notation that we at WaveDNA all know each other. Dave regularly made larger-than-life impressions on those he interacted with and It is unlikely that anyone who had the pleasure of meeting him has forgotten the occasion.

There have been many chapters in Dave’s 30-plus years conceiving of and developing innovative tools to assist in the creation of computer-based musical compositions. It would be impossible to do all of the adventures justice by recounting them here. It should be noted, however, that the journey began in the 1980s with the advent of new, more easily accessible MIDI-based synthesizers and sequencers that came on the market and helped democratize music creation.

Dave was studying harmony and musical composition with his much-admired teacher David Neale at this time. He noticed the disjuncts between the ways in which music was represented in standard notation versus in digital mediums. He thought something should be done to reconcile these differences. He envisioned a new type of canvas on which to represent musical data. A new method of data analysis and manipulation that could also incorporate future advances in technology.

Inspired by this thinking he began researching the available tools and learned the basics of programming.  His journey grew to include wider research into musical cognition, design of software and interfaces, general business strategizing and development, and methods of patented innovations. He took on all of this outside of most conventional educational pathways. Dave was known to show up as a sort of door-to-door musical systems salesman in computer programming labs or music psychology and cognition labs looking for people who could help him realize his vision.

Dave met Doug Mummenhoff and in 2010 they formed Sonic Securities and WaveDNA. Their intent was to apply Dave’s invention to MIDI-based software that would enable musicians to achieve results quickly and easily. Thus began the company’s journey designing intuitive virtual instruments that inspire the creative process.

Dave was wonderfully inspired and creative, intense, generous, patient, encouraging, and always bustling with ever more ideas and considerations. New ideas were shared and poured over in great detail, passed back and forth while accruing additions or clarifications, all without personal possessiveness. When a concept came together he always declared “Nashville rules”. His way of stating that anyone in the room at the time shared in the credit for it. This was not limited to technology. Something—an idea, a design, and insight, existed where it hadn’t before and you had been a part of its birth.

Those of us with the honour of having known this remarkable man will continue to remember vividly his full personality and cherish the ideas, visions, and human connections that he shared with us all.

In loving memory,

From the team at WaveDNA

All of us at Canadian Music Trade send our deepest condolences to David’s colleagues, family, and friends.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician, Canadian Music Trade, Professional Sound, and Professional Lighting & Production magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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