Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap
Date: Thu Aug 05 2004 - 20:34:47 EDT

Quoting Richard Wentk <>:

> At 15:37 05/08/2004 -0400, you wrote:
> >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.
> No, because it's the algorithm used in the analysis that matters.

How does the algorithm *require* a computer to work? What does the
computer do that can't be done by hand aside from making it possible for
one person to do this work in one lifetime? Is there anything the
computer does here that a human brain can't?

And that's the distinction I'm trying to point out here, and it's not a
prejudicial one: there is a difference between practical and possible.
The Cope experiments might be impractical to the point that they simply
wouldn't exist without a focused, multi-person multi-lifetime effort (or
computers). But there's an entire class of works that wouldn't exist
without computers, period. An infinite amount of monkeys at an infinite
number of typewriters might eventually write all the great books, but
they'll never do realtime interactive amplitude-based spatialization, at
least not with typewriters.

(I know I know I know, the monkey analogy is probably not the best to
use if I'm trying to be nonprejudicial.)

> I could sit here with a calculator and calculate sine samples, file
> them to an ancient mag tape drive (if I had one) and then play it
> back through a DAC.

DACs aren't computers? Seems like no matter what the ability to
translate the calculations into an audible experience is going to
require some technology above acoustic pencil and paper.

> But that's not a practical way to make music. The fact that a computer
> can do it much faster, perhaps in real time, with far more complex
> algorithms than a simple sine, is what makes it a new way of making
> music.

Realtime--there's the buzzword. That's the distinction. There's no
wiggle room: without computers or dedicated electronic hardware,
realtime interactive computer music would be impossible, not just
impractical. There's the distinction I'm trying to point out here.

Look, I'm not trying to set up hard and fast definitions of what is or
isn't "computer music"--anyone whose paid attention to my previous posts
will know I'm the *last* person who would do that. I'm just pointing
out another possible line of distinction; the whole conversation started
over the proposal that the difference between what is and is not
computer music is whether or not there's programming involved.

Which, I, obviously, don't think is a good measure.


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