Saturday, March 6, 2010


Susie Bright, a facebook neighbor of mine, passed along a link to a recent article on David Cope, pictured dashingly in the photo to the left.  I like the two snips of sound, the first one a bit like something I might have written, the second something I wish I could write, as I have little talent for unaccompanied melodies.

I for one am happy to be replaced by an algorithm. This would allow me more time to follow my alternate paths to bliss, e.g., drinking myself into an early grave. Regarding such, my colleague Thom Blum once rhapsodized on the movie Leaving Las Vegas, as it represented the story of one who sets a goal for himself and achieves it. Other paths include watching a lot more television, gaining a lot of weight, lying in my own filth, and so on.

I have tried several times to enlist the aid of the computers that have surrounded me since my days at North Star, when I had the energy to solder and code just to achieve some polymetrically imagined wonderland, usually worked at the notelist level, but later at the sound stratum, as the latter has been the source of my bread and water for the last twenty-plus years. I still do from time to time, when I, like Mr. Cope, have been blocked and need a bit of inspiration.  But isn't random inspiration just about as good? Remember the Oblique Strategies, now available on the iPhone? Not sure why Cope spent so much effort at the expense of all else just to produce a score. Scores are one thing, but it's easy to confuse the map for the territory. We remember the works of Cage and others derived from star charts and I Ching and we realize those pieces can actually be pretty good. Why? Because composers are just one teeny part of the process that passes through the skill of the performer and sometimes the mixing engineer. And does anyone else worry about his destruction of his databases?  Was all of this music really generated just by his algorithms?  Hard for someone else to really test that now.

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