Re: Why Computer Music Sucks

Subject: Re: Why Computer Music Sucks
From: Anomalous Records Eric (
Date: Wed Jul 21 1999 - 12:54:49 EDT

>What does he (or you) mean by 'computer music'? Using a computer in the
>production of a work?

I think I should refer you to read the whole of his article, as it's too
much for me to re-type and besides I don't think I can speak for Bob,
especially not entirely agreeing with his aesthetic. Maybe the whole
article is on the Resonance web site:
I haven't had time to look myself.

>> I think it
>>is true that a lot of computer music and electroacoustic music that comes
>>through here does share a very similar method of construct, and very little
>>variance compositional.
>Do you feel that there a range of 'types' or categories? What are the
>limits to these?

What I mean by the above is that I seem to see a lot of stuff that is
basically computer / EA music which almost seems to be poured from a mold
and not a particularly good one either. I see a lot of music of swelling
morphed sounds, with quick punctuations spaced by silences (or relatively
quiet areas). A lot of stuff with the same sort of slowly building sound
with quickly explodes into high volumes and then cuts to something else and
some minor variations on this. But like I said, there are also many
outstanding examples which prove this form can work. It's just a lot seems
to be following a formula of which types of sounds and which types of
arrangements and interactions define something as being an electroacoustic
piece. Which is unfortunate as hearing other things, I know this is not
true. The genre is not so narrow, just what some people create is. There
is a lot of difference between Luc Ferrari and Michel Chion, and further
with Michel Redolfi and on and on. However, a lot of prize compilations
and other collections seem to gather together a lot of pieces which really
lack distinctive qualities. Maybe it's too much to expect a new batch of
masterworks every year. There are some good things on those discs (which
often end up on some other disc).

In any case, I unfortunately don't see as much variations as the number of
styles you list in your email Kevin. For one these inclusions of beat and
drum machine are generally excluded from any electroacoustic or computer
music collection (although this should be quite the opposite with Or's
upcoming computer music magazine).

All in all, my only complaint is that there is a lot of stuff to dig
through to find the good stuff, which is true in any area. The only reason
I brought it up was I could see how Ostertag or someone else could find it
tedious to go through a lot of these compositions, when a lot of them have
become predictably the same.

>Is there the 'MIDI' piece? The extended-MIDI piece?
>The 'exploration of the object'?
>The 'sounds over a beat'?
>Fragmented collage?
>Is the use of text a dividing line between some categories? (and many
>sub-groupings as to the functions, from narrative to sonic etc).
>Are there pieces in two (contrasting) sections? Pieces with one single
>evolving section? Pieces made up of many (contrasted) sections?
>Is there use of quotation? Other external references?
>Is there a strongly felt presence of a keyboard? Drum-machine/looping
>Is there the use of environmental material with little (or much) detailed
>(moment to moment) transformation / manipulation?
>The factory-patch piece?
>etc etc

Eric Lanzillotta

Anomalous Records
P.O. Box 22195, Seattle, WA 98122-0195, USA
telephone: (206) 328-9339 fax: (206) 328-9408
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