Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap
Date: Thu Aug 05 2004 - 16:04:02 EDT

Thanks for the attention you're paying to this issue.

To say it doesn't matter how a work was produced is not to deny its
objectivity. The work itself is an object -- whether a transient sound
produced during live performance, or a durable CD.

I could have a fragment of a CD of Chopinesque music, which is perfectly an
object. It could contain real Chopin or Cope/Computer Chopin. If I've never
been exposed to classical music or its history, how it was produced is
completely and totally irrelevant to how it sounds to me. When I say that I
believe art is objective, I mean not only what I just said, but also that
something in the esthetic experience of listening to that fragment persists
between such a naive listener and, say, Krystian Zimerman.

The question of whether music is computer music is, of course, not a matter
of black and white. Since I personally do algorithmic composition, I'm
deeply interested in that whole field and attempt to promote it, so I like
to clarify that, yes, one can make art using software and by writing
algorithms. This does, in my opinion, also happen to be one of the main
identifying marks of the "computer music style" insofar as there is such a

Once again "computer music" is an ambiguous term since it has a technical
meaning referring to means of production, and an artistic meaning referring
to a certain style or family of styles.

Original Message:
Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 15:37:40 -0400
Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap

I really should be paying more attention to work, but...

Quoting "" <>:

> For example, David Cope's experiments in musical intelligence have
> now
> composed music in the styles of various composers (such as Chopin)
> that I,
> at least, could not tell from the original for as long as 6 or 8
> bars. But
> this is indubitably computer music.

And yet, if all the computer is doing is analyzing prior works and
mathematically determining new ones, resulting in a printed page of
music, I'm willing to be that everything could be done (much, much more
slowly) by hand. The computer ultimately is irrelevent to the work
aside from speeding up the process. So basically you're calling it
'Computer Music' just because it's done faster by a computer.

On the other hand, real-time FFT-based convolution *must* be done by a
computer (or some piece of electronic hardware). And even if I use a
handy-dandy little VST plug in to do it and used only stock presets, not
programming a thing myself, *I* still have to select which sound sources
are most effective in the medium for my particular aesthetic goal, and
the electro-acoustic quality of the work is surely going to be a one of
the dominant features perceived by the audience. Yet, that's not
computer music under your definition, regardless of how it sounds.

> The ability to detect whether a work of art was produced in one way
> or
> another is quite beside the point of this discussion.

Yet you've consistently argued that art is objective, and that
"subjective" things like how it is perceived (and by logical extension
its inspiriation and the intent of the artist?) are irrelevent to its
generic classification. This goes 180 degrees from that: now the piece
of art itself is totally irrelevent to its classification as 'computer
music,' and two identical pieces can be in two completely separate
musical categories based on something that cannot be ascertained from

> You do not have responsibility for something unless you can change
> it, and
> if you CAN change it, then you DO have responsibility for it.

You CAN change it. You can turn it off. This is a very real
compositional choice.

> The question of the FM algorithm is on two levels. Certainly you are
> correct in that both the computer musician and the synthesizer
> musician
> have chosen the algorithm, and taken responsibility for its use.
> However,
> the computer musician is responsible for the implementation of the
> algorithm, while the synthesizer musician is not. That is a deeper
> level of
> responsibility, but of course that in turn says nothing about the
> artistic
> quality of the result.

Then you're drawing a very subjective line at what consititutes creating
'computer music.' Is someone who designs their own voices on a DX7
creating 'computer music?' Even with its fixed algorithms and limited
parameters, there's little doubt that that some level of programming is
happening (especially if you've ever had to use the beast). I can't use
C++ to program an MSP plug-in, but I can create a mean Max/MSP patch
using the objects that come stock with the application. Modern
technology has blurred the line between someone doing hard programming
and someone punching stock buttons; there's way too much middle ground
to rely on false dichotomies.

> Original Message:
> -----------------
> From:
> Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 13:55:30 -0400
> To:
> Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap
> So, what you're saying is that you can hear a piece of music, and not
> be
> able to tell if it's computer music if you don't know the extent of
> the
> composers programming chops? That seems a bit dubious a dividing
> line
> to me.
> > A digital
> > algorithm burned into a PROM is no longer the responsibility of the
> > musician.
> Absolutely it is. It's the responsibility of the composer to decide
> whether or not to use the algorithm, which is the most fundamental
> responsibility there is.
> --Ryan.
> Quoting "" <>:
> > I think Nowak's point, with which I agree, is that if the musician
> > has
> > responsibility for the algorithms, it is computer music. A digital
> > algorithm burned into a PROM is no longer the responsibility of the
> > musician. A csound instrument implementing exactly the same
> algorithm
> > is
> > the responsibility of the musician - he or she has the ability to
> > change
> > it, even if that choice is not taken.
> >
> > A better term would be "software music" or "programmable music."
> >
> > Original Message:
> > -----------------
> > From: lawrence casserley
> > Date: Thu, 5 Aug 2004 12:39:02 +0100
> > To:
> > Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap
> >
> >
> >
> > On 24 Jul, 2004, at 19:14, John Nowak wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > In my opinion, "computer music" is music made with
> > user-programable,
> > > general purpose devices.
> > >
> > >
> > OTOH, most digital synthesis algorithms (eg FM, acoustic modelling,
> > etc) were developed first on general purpose computers as computer
> > music techniques. Manufacturers then made dedicated chips to
> produce
> > those algorithms more efficiently and cheaply, but they are still
> > computer music techniques. The main difference is the reduction in
> > generality and flexibility of control, which is there on a gp
> > computer.
> > Does that then make it no longer a computer technique?
> >
> > L
> >
> > Lawrence Casserley -
> > Lawrence Electronic Operations -
> > Colourscape Music Festivals -
> >
> >
> >
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
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> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
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