Clarence Barlow was born in 1945 of English, Portuguese and French colonial descent in Calcutta. In 1965 he obtained a science degree at Calcutta University as well as the Licentiate Diploma of Trinity College of Music London in piano. From 1966-68 he taught music theory at the Calcutta School of Music. From 1968-73 he studied electronic music and composition with Herbert Eimert, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Vinko Globokar and Karlheinz Stockhausen at the Music University (Musikhochschule) of Cologne.
As early as 1971 he began to compose music with the help of computers and worked thereafter in computer music studios in Stockholm (EMS), Paris (IRCAM), Amsterdam (STEIM), Warsaw (Chopin Academy) und Chicago (Northwestern University). In 1980 he was awarded the Kranichstein Composition Prize at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, in 1981 the Composition Prize of Cologne. From 1982-94 he regularly taught computer-aided composition at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music and since 1984 at the Music University of Cologne. In addition he has lectured and his music has been performed in Canada, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand as well as in the following European countries: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Ireland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece. Among the ensembles who have performed his music may be mentioned orchestras based in Baden-Baden (South-West Radio Orchestra), Frankfurt (Hessian Radio Orchestra) and Reykjavik (Iceland Symphony Orchestra) as well as ensembles from Frankfurt (Ensemble Modern), Cologne (Ensemble Köln), Berlin (Kammerensemble Neue Musik), Paris (Ensemble Itineraire), Amsterdam (Ives Ensemble), London (Apartment House), Montreal (Core) and others such as the Arditti and Kronos Ensembles.
In 1982 he initiated a computer music society in Cologne, which he co-founded in 1986 as GIMIK: Initiative Musik und Informatik Köln and chaired from 1986-93 and 1996-2002, since when he holds the title of member of honour of that society. In 1988 he was music director of the XIVth International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), organized by GIMIK in Cologne. From 1990-91 he was Guest Professor for Composition and Radio Play at the Folkwang University Essen. From 1990-94 he was Artistic Director of the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he has since been Professor of Composition and Sonology. From 1991-92 he was a founding member of the Leonardo Project in Cologne’s MediaPark Centre. Since 1994 he has been a permanent member of the International Academy of Electroacoustic Music in Bourges (France). In 1994 he initiated and directed the Lingua Armata Project in the Spektakel-Festival of the Science Ministry of the German federal state of North-Rhine-Westphalia held in Dortmund as well as the Amaludus Project of the same ministry at the Spektakel-Festival of 1996 in Münster. In 1995 he initiated and directed (with GIMIK) the four-city Trapezium Festival in Amsterdam, Essen, Cologne and The Hague involving 24 composers, six from each city. At the Royal Conservatory The Hague he initiated and organized in 1991 the Roboard Pfestival (including a two-hour and a three-hour concert of player-piano music) and the RATIO project (1992-93) involving structured music from mediaeval and contemporary Europe as well as North India, the Middle and Far East.
As a composer he writes instrumental (solo, chamber and orchestral) as well as electronic music. Furthermore he has for decades developed music software and computer music installations, has penned music theatre pieces and radio plays and been author and editor of numerous articles and books on specialized music theory.