RE: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap

Subject: RE: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap
Date: Thu Jul 22 2004 - 15:01:49 EDT

Forgive my bewilderment on the topic, but What is with this insatiable
need to invent a context-independent, quantifiable set of criteria for
what is or isn't 'Computer Music?' The ambiguity is really as
beneficial as it is harmful, and is easily overcome in basic conversation.

"Computer Music" can mean anything that involves computers at all. Yes,
this is a valid definition, but of little use realistically. "Computer
Music" can mean anything where the computer has a substantial effect on
the final outcome, meaning everything from 'Different Trains' to 'The
Rockafella Skank.' "Computer Music" can be also be used to refer to a
specific musical aesthetic arising from the capabilities and limitations
of the medium (like Risset, Matthews, the Columbia-Princeton crowd,
etc.). The definition is going to vary a bit depending on if you're
talking to John Chowning, Jim O'Rourke or Jerry Springer. If clarity of
meaning is really an issue, add an extra word or two to the term, or
give a couple examples. Rare is the person who will think "Early
Computer Music" means the buzzing of their alarm clock.

I mean, realistically, even the term 'computer' becomes a bit fuzzy in
the world of music. What is the distinction between a synthesizer and a
computer? Even an amplifier uses ICs now, so are they computers?


Quoting "Mauricio Duarte-Neira (039166d)" <>:

> Anything that plays digitally can be considered computer music?
> Or computer music would be computer generated and manipulated >
sound/silence, etc...?
> what about a computer that has an AI to make up melodies giving it
> the > chords, will that be computer music?
> What if I take a bunch of computers and hit them as a drum set, can I
> > call that computer music too? :)
> (Does anyone know of a program that can figure out melodies given the
> > chords? I believe the latest "Band in a box" can do that. I Would
> like > to see how it does it).
> Mauricio
> ________________________________
> From: on behalf of Stephen David
> Beck
> Sent: Wed 7/21/2004 6:56 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap
> I didn't say that there was no _need_ for the term "computer music."
> I
> was arguing that the term has lost its meaning in our contemporary
> context. It will always retain its historical meaning.
> There's so much {DSP/phase vocoder/spectral shaping/you name it} in
> pop
> music these days, it's impossible to say that pop music isn't
> "computer
> music." But clearly, the "computer music" of Beyonce or Britney
> Spears
> is not the computer music of Charles Dodge, John Pierce or John
> Chowning.
> We are simply unable to apply a 1960's definition to a 21st century
> context. Our language must catch up to our art.
> On Jul 21, 2004, at 4:27 PM, wrote:
> > Just because most music people now listen to is made using
> computers,
> > that
> > by no means implies there is no need for the term "computer music."
> >
> > There is still a huge difference between the stylistic
> possibilities
> > open
> > to music made with computers versus music not so made. Therefore, >
> > historians of the future will need this term to adequately deal
> with
> > the
> > changes in music after 1958, even if all the music they listen to
> in
> > their
> > own time is made with computers and not called "computer music" by
> the
> > general public or even contemporary critics.
> =========================> ======
> Stephen David Beck, Ph.D.
> Interim Director, Laboratory for Creative Arts & Technologies
> Center for Computation and Technology (CCT)
> 3rd Floor, Johnston Hall
> Louisiana State University
> Baton Rouge, LA 70803
> w:
> e: sdbeck at lsu dot edu
> p: (225) 578-2594
> im: sdbeck
> tm: 2252840124 at tmomail dot net

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