Saturday, November 5, 2011

Re: Sean's 'Importance of sound origin'

In one of his posts Sean ended with the question, "Does sound origin play a significant role in music?"

Like Sean and Hamilton stated the acousmatic thesis states that when listening to music we should divorce tones from their source. Yet, Hamilton later subjected to the two fold thesis which states that the musical experience should include focusing on the physical, literal, holistic and individual properties of the tones while also realizing the origin of the sounds. (pg 110).
I think that the sound origin does play a significant role in music. Knowing what instrument the timbre is coming from and knowing things about that instrument like the range or the fact that it may squeak from time to time gives a new appreciation to the experience. Take for example you are listening to a trumpet concerto and you hear notes that you know are at the top of that instruments range, you then can associate that the trumpet player is talented and spent many hours practicing that piece. Knowing other qualities about instruments like the fact that clarinets squeak, can make it easier to dismiss the error when it occurs in a performance. Being able to distinguish instruments by their timbre while listening to an ensemble makes the experience more pleasurable because you can focus in on one or more specific instruments and make a mental score. Anything is more enjoyable when you can understand it better.
Let's turn to vocalists. Knowing what band is playing a song you have never heard before is easy for most people to do when they listen to the vocalist's timbre. It is important to know who is singing what because you do not want to give credit or discredit the wrong artist. Typically when songs are covered we prefer the original sound source to the 'stolen' or 'copied' versions. (of course there are exception to this.) This raises the question of why.

Question: Why do we prefer the original sound origin, to the redone version? Do we choose which sound origin we prefer based on which sounds better or something else?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Computer Music ... Again

In class on Monday Dr. Johnson asked if the intention in creating an artificial composing computer program is enough intention to constitute it as music?

We have defined music so far as organized sound with the intention to be aesthetically pleasing. We have also noted that if we are to create something not intending it to be music, and then work on it, it then becomes intentional. When we compose a song we are intentionally placing each note on a score and considering how it works together with the other notes that are being played at the same time as well as reflecting on what came before and what will come after. Composing is a strategic process embedded in intention. Creating a computer program that creates compositions does have intent, but the individual songs themselves do not have intent. The pieces that this program generates are bi-products of the original intent to create the program. The intent needs to be to the notes directly, like with human compositions to be considered music. The computer programs create more of a template of the general rise, falls, and resolutions that are typical in music. Yet, if one takes this template and works on it, changes chord progressions, tweaks rhythms, and adds in new voices/instruments, then I think it is safe to say that it is then music. (of course if it at least 80% original).

Question: Is it safe to say that computer generated music can become real music if someone changes it around and adds intention to it? How much intention must be added in order for it to be considered music?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Re: Wesley/ Peter "Contribution and Computer Generated Music"

An ongoing topic in blogging this semester is computer generated music. Wesley recently talked about a program from Hans Zimmer & Pharrell Williams which can turn any hum or whistle into a song. He ended with the question "How much contribution is needed to consider something music?" Peter then replied and ended with the question, "Does something with no contribution whatsoever have the right to be called music"?

Nowadays music producers do not write a single note of their own. They take tracks from older songs and replay a clip over and over again in the back ground. Or they take midi loops and organize them in their own sequence. I would consider that as sound art and not music. If you take loops and do not compose every single note yourself, then it is not truly yours, yet I may not goes as far to say that any contribution aside from ones self makes the piece not music or sound art. In writing articles, books, or any other publication, the rule of thumb for plagiarism is that it cannot be more than 20 percent of other works. Since composing is a type of writing, I think we should apply this principle. If a work is not at least 80% of the composer(s) then it is not their music. So if a composer took one loop and had four harmonies that he/she wrote themselves they are safe. Yet, if a composer took two loops and wrote three harmonies it would be sound art. I agree with Peter that computer generated music is at least sound art. These percentages are just a starting point, feel free to offer suggestions if you feel that they are too strict or not strict enough.

Questions: I'm going to change this around a little since it is such a recurring theme, let's talk about the ethics of these "composition machines". What if the creators of these computer programs never told anyone that they created it and they used it to generate compositions in their credit? Would it be plagiarism? If you never knew it was created by a machine would you call it music just the same? It is the conception that it is an artificial creation rather than the quality of the composition that makes us dislike it. Are we being racist towards computers? (Just kidding).