Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap

Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap
From: Michael Gogins (
Date: Thu Aug 05 2004 - 23:25:23 EDT

This is a good question. The short answer is that the computer cannot do a
single solitary thing the human brain can't. But the computer can do what it
can do so much faster than the brain can, that it makes previously
impossible things quite possible. You can do a 1024 point Fourier transform
by hand, but you can't do enough of them one after another to analyze an
hour of music in a reasonable period of time.

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, August 05, 2004 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: electroacoustics - rap to tap to zap to frap

> 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.
> --Ryan.

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