A photo of a Guthman judge's note pad, taken from behind his shoulder as he writes.

2021 Judges

2021 Judges

Each year we invite international experts in music technology to judge the Guthman Competition. They spend time learning about our finalists' work, asking key questions about the designs, and sharing perspectives with the music technology community. 

Some judges, like performance artist Laurie Anderson, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, hip hop musician Young Guru, and Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess have used new technologies in performances and recordings to captivate audiences all over the world.

Others, like Technical Grammy Award Winner Roger Linn, synthesizer pioneer Tom Oberheim, and Cycling 74' Founder David Zicarelli have created new hardware and software that have changed the way we make music.

Many of our judges, like Stanford professor Ge Wang, McGill professor Marcelo Wanderley, and London University of the Arts reader Rebecca Fiebrink have conducted groundbreaking research that set the foundation for technical and design innovations in the music industry.

Dave Smith

Dave Smith posing by a MIDI keyboard in front of a large window.
Image Credit: Sequential.com

Legendary instrument designer and Grammy-winner Dave Smith founded Sequential Circuits in 1974. In 1977 Dave designed the Prophet-5, the world’s first fully-programmable polyphonic synth—and the first musical instrument with an embedded microprocessor. 

Dave is known as the driving force behind the MIDI specification in 1981. It was Dave, in fact, who coined the acronym. After Sequential, Dave was President of DSD, Inc, an R&D division of Yamaha, where he worked on physical modeling synthesis and software synthesizer concepts. He then started the Korg R&D group in California, producing the Wavestation and other technology.

He took over as President at Seer Systems and developed the first soft synth for Intel in 1994, followed by the first professional soft synth, Reality, released in 1997.

Realizing the limitations of software, Dave returned to hardware and started Dave Smith Instruments, starting with the Evolver hybrid analog/digital synthesizer in 2002. The product lineup has grown to include the Prophet X, Prophet Rev2, Prophet-6, OB-6 (with Tom Oberheim), Pro 2, and Prophet 12 synthesizers, and the Tempest drum machine (with Roger Linn).

In 2018 DSI changed its name to Sequential, bringing Dave’s legacy full-circle.

DJ Spooky

DJ Spooky wearing a dark jacket while lounging on a light tan couch.
Image Credit: Tamar Levine

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. Miller has collaborated with an array of recording artists, including Metallica, Chuck D, Steve Reich, and Yoko Ono. His 2018 album, DJ Spooky Presents: Phantom Dancehall, debuted at #3 on Billboard Reggae.

His large-scale, multimedia performance pieces include “Rebirth of a Nation,” Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica, commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Seoul Counterpoint, written during his 2014 residency at Seoul Institute of the Arts. His multimedia project Sonic Web premiered at San Francisco’s Internet Archive in 2019. He was the inaugural artist-in-residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s The Met Reframed, 2012-2013.

In 2014, he was named National Geographic Emerging Explorer. He produced Pioneers of African American Cinema, a collection of the earliest films made by African American directors, released in 2015. Miller’s artwork has appeared in the Whitney Biennial, The Venice Biennial for Architecture, the Miami/Art Basel fair, and many other museums and galleries.


His books include the award-winning Rhythm Science, published by MIT Press in 2004; Sound Unbound, an anthology about digital music and media; The Book of Ice, a visual and acoustic portrait of the Antarctic, and; The Imaginary App, on how apps changed the world. His writing has been published by The Village VoiceThe Source, and Artforum, and he was the first founding Executive Editor of Origin Magazine.

Kaki King

Kaki King standing at a beach with her eyes closed, with a light shining on her face.
Image Credit: Ebru Yildiz

Composer and musician Kaki King is considered one of the world’s greatest living guitarists, known both for her technical mastery and for her constant quest to push the boundaries of the instrument. Hailed by Rolling Stone as “a genre unto herself,” Kaki has released 9 albums and toured extensively, presenting in such prestigious arts centers as the Kennedy Center, MoMA, LACMA, The Met and Smithsonian Design Museum.

She has created music for numerous film and TV soundtracks, including “August Rush” and “Into the Wild”, for which received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score. She has performed with symphonies and chamber ensembles, and recorded an album in collaboration with the Porta Girevole Chamber Orchestra commissioned by the Berklee College of Music. 

Kaki's new album, Modern Yesterdays, will be released in the Fall of 2020.

Jayson Dobney

Jayson Dobney posing at a side profile.
Image Credit: The Metropolitan Museum

Jayson Kerr Dobney is the Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge of the Department of Musical Instruments at The Metropolitan Museum. He was recently the curator of the exhibition Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll (2019). Past exhibitions include The Sau-Wing Lam Collection of Rare Italian Stringed Instruments (2013), and Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York (2011).

Publication highlights include "Asian Musical Instruments at The Metropolitan Museum" in the Arts of Asia magazine (2019), the article "Royal Kettledrums from the House of Hanover," in the Galpin Society Journal (2016), and as a co-author of the Musical Instruments: Highlights of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2015) among others. He is also currently the president of the American Musical Instrument Society


If you can't find the information you were looking for, we'll get you to the right place.
Contact Us