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The Future of Electronic Music


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Author Topic: The Future of Electronic Music  (Read 293 times)
guest54
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« on: September 22, 2009, 11:09:33 am »

Have any Members we wonder (either professionally or amateurishly) had a "go" with Csound? According to the introduction to the manual, "Csound is a unit generator-based, user-programmable computer music system. It was originally written by Barry Vercoe at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984 as the first C language version of this type of software. Since then Csound has received numerous contributions from researchers, programmers, and musicians from around the world.

"Around 1991, John ffitch ported Csound to Microsoft DOS. Csound currently runs on many varieties of UNIX and Linux, Microsoft DOS and Windows, all versions of the Macintosh operating system including Mac OS X, and others.

"There are newer computer music systems that have graphical patch editors (e.g. Max/MSP, PD, jMax, or Open Sound World), or that use more advanced techniques of software engineering (e.g. Nyquist or SuperCollider). Yet Csound still has the largest and most varied set of unit generators, is the best documented, runs on the most platforms, and is the easiest to extend. It is possible to compile Csound using double-precision arithmetic throughout for superior sound quality. In short, Csound must be considered one of the most powerful musical instruments ever created."

Do members agree with that last paragraph?

The great attractions for us of Csound - the acquisition of which involves in the great tradition of the Inter-net no demeaning monetary transaction - are:

1) it can generate (theoretically) any sound at all
2) it can handle both sounds generated by oscillators and sampled sounds
3) its non-graphical interface greatly pleases us
4) it can be as complicated as one wishes it to be
5) it is already very mature

Back in 1984 it was impossible to find realistic solo string samples, software synthesizers did not exist, only simple Japanese hardware ones; sequencers ran not on PCs but in stand-alone Japanese boxes, and the output had to be recorded using special multi-track cassette decks. (We used that set-up for some Bach and Chopin arrangements.) Of late we have been trying the Vienna Instruments solo string samples, and Kontakt, but still experiencing frustrations.

Therefore we intend in the immediate future to test Csound in these two endeavours:

1) to produce a version of Webern's Piano Variations, and listen to how it goes with all kinds of purely electronic timbres;

2) to generate a performance of one of our String Quartettes using as "realistic" a sound as possible, based upon samples.

Of course in the long run it is misguided to use computer music merely to imitate the"manual" ensembles and orchestras. Electronic music will come into its own when it has developed to the point where what principally strikes the listener is not its electronic nature, but its specific character as music. How the sounds are produced should not concern the listener. Did not the French organist Messiaen make a primitive beginning in this direction with his Ondes Martenot swooping over the orchestra?

Many composers have taken a false step in the electronic realm, in that they have so soon forgotten their harmony and counterpoint, and instead taken the easy road and produced mere conglomerations of noise, attractive or not.

Our third essay then will be to write something with Csound that does not sound particularly or intrusively electronic, and consists of notes in striking combination rather than mere noises. (After all, timbre is by no means the most important or significant quality of music.)
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some guy
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2009, 07:42:10 pm »

Of course in the long run it is misguided to use computer music merely to imitate the"manual" ensembles and orchestras.
Short run, too.
Electronic music will come into its own when it has developed to the point where what principally strikes the listener is not its electronic nature, but its specific character as music. How the sounds are produced should not concern the listener.
Is this what strikes the listener when listening to instrumental music? Are we not always aware of the acoustic properties of the instruments? Is it not important that the oboe sounds different from the tuba? (Musically important.)
Many composers have taken a false step in the electronic realm, in that they have so soon forgotten their harmony and counterpoint, and instead taken the easy road and produced mere conglomerations of noise, attractive or not.
Easy? Mere??
It's so easy to take potshots at "composers" or at "many composers." How about some names? Some details? Something other than the easy substitute of well poisoning for real argument!
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guest54
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2009, 03:02:14 pm »

It's so easy to take potshots at "composers" or at "many composers." How about some names? Some details? Something other than the easy substitute of well poisoning for real argument!

We are unfamiliar with the expression "well-poisoning" - what does it mean? Is it a reference to some proverb? Or something biblical?

Anyway we were thinking of things such as have been posted here in the "Broadcast Rarities" thread: the Boehmer perhaps, the Fritsch definitely, and Gerhard's Audiomobile 2.

May we also say that Chronochromie seems to offer an example of music of which an electronic performance would be just as suitable as is one by instrumentalists - more so even very probably.
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Reiner Torheit
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2009, 06:36:52 pm »

We are unfamiliar with the expression "well-poisoning" - what does it mean? Is it a reference to some proverb? Or something biblical?

Not exactly biblical. It was an accusation widely used against Jewish communities in Europe by their goyim adversaries.  The (false) accusation gained credence because the jewish ghettos usually had their own wells... so the semitic community would be unaffected if city wells were poisoned.
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some guy
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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2009, 01:58:43 pm »

Sydney, "well poisoning" is a common term for a logical fallacy. It is a subcategory of ad hominem, like claiming that many composers took a false step, and that they had so soon forgotten their harmony and counterpoint.

But I was also including in that things like "easy" and "mere" and "conglomerations" and even, in your context, "noises," which, it turns out, are examples of a subcategory of begging the question called loaded terms. Presenting as concluded what has yet to be proven.

The examples you then supply us in your next post are from 1959, 1961, and 1964. 45 to 50 years ago. A lot has happened since then. But maybe it's just a tense problem. I was expecting current composers when I read the words "have taken" as opposed to what would be a relevant accusation against the three you mention, namely "took." Still not an accusation I'd agree with,* but at least "took" would not have led me to expect an accusation against current practitioners of what is a fairly mature art form. At least sixty+ is more mature than 12+!

*I'd be inclined to agree with you about those specific pieces, though the sound quality of the broadcasts is pretty poor, and that has something to do with how we react to the sounds, after all, but also those are not the only electroacoustic pieces any of these people wrote.
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