The Fairlight CMI (short for Computer Musical Instrument) is one of the earliest complete music workstations with embedded digital sampling synthesizer. It was introduced in 1979 by the founders of Fairlight, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, in Sydney, Australia. It rose to prominence in the early 1980s and competed in the emerging hi-tech music market with the Synclavier from New England Digital.
Barry Ferrier was introduced to composing on the Fairlight during downtime whileworking as a recording session musician for producer Ian Mason at the iconic Music Farm Studios in Mullumbimby NSW. He later became a regular composer for the Queensland Performing Arts Trust at Brisbane's QPAC. A Fairlight had been purchased by the trust and Barry's knowledge of the computer music instrument was utilised in many theatre shows, workshops and installations during the mid to late 80s.
In 1984 Barry Ferrier was commissioned by the Queensland Performing Arts Trust to compose and perform a concert at the QPAC Concert Hall that was to be an exposition of state of the art digital technology in a performing arts context, featuring the then cutting edge Fairlight CMI IIX and the newly released Fairlight Video Instrument. The performances featured the Fairlight CMI as part of a rockband, as a "member" of a wind quintet and as the soundtrack to a modern dance piece, choreographed by Ginny Bradley with the Vision Dance ensemble, entitled "Chrysalis". The performance included prepared video clips on a giant screen as well as live video processed through a Fairlight video instrument. The prepared videos used text by Australian composer Percy Grainger who had written a prescient piece on a future music technolgy at the turn of the 19th century which described in uncaany detail the concept of the Fairlight CMI.
Barry Ferrier has recently been recognised for his pioneering work as an electronic music composer by inclusion of one of his compositions in an exhibition mounted as a celebration of the birth of the Fairlight Computer Music Instrument at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra on Sept 2nd, 2016.