Touch, Music and Computers

Till now, no musical tradition has developed independently of musical practice.

Perhaps the most crucial need in music made with computers is for a more direct contact between composers and their tools, yet in too much electronic music the very possibility of musical touch is lacking.  Though in the last century much effort was spent on the rationalization of composition, more musical inspiration was drawn from non-western sources and developed into what are still seen as non art-music styles such as Jazz.

Largely these are a class/culture wars in which the sides are drawn up but other than as signs of vested interest no one really knows what the flags stand for. But one reason clear reason for this failure is the diminished idea of the musician as a creative source and the corresponding focus on composition. This is the view that music arises primarily from formal organizational talent which is independent of and superior to the less rational musical intelligence which is seen to be kin to instinct. Though this is outdated psychology it's a belief that is still very alive in conservatories. In our part of that world the computer stands in for the ideal of composition as flawless rationality. An equally outdated picture of machine intelligence!

The future of electronic music, of computer aided music, in fact of new music in general, lies in its developing an instrumental approach This includes inventing ways to effect sounds and for the “playing” of more abstract musical material. Without a respect for the musical touch, contact could be lost what is uniquely musical intelligence.Still some will view an interest in traditional practice as exoticism or a regression to primitivism, I believe that it is a hungry recognition of the riches available only in playing music.

It is not an accident that for a new generation of electronic music composers who discovered electronic music outside the academy, there is already not such a divide between the idea of performance and of composition. They look to a wide range of sources from the culture of recoredings: electric metal, synthipop, historical electronic music [Stockhausen, Parmegiani, Xenakis etc.], studio technique from HipHop, the Software cannons from Digidesign to Max/MSP, hacked electronics [from Tudor and Kosugi via Otomo et al.],



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