MILTONOTES

An open-eared exploration of composition in theory & practice.

Sound, Music & Technology

Milton Mermikides m.mermikides@surrey.ac.uk

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Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music Dawn of Music Notation Iraq:1800BC Cuneiform (melody in 3rds)

Ancient Greece: c.600BC Pitch and rhythm
The representation of music

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music c. 500BC Acousmatic
ἀκουσματικοί

Pythagorus, Ionian philosopher, mathematician and musician (c.570-c.495BC)

Teaching behind the veil-readopted by Schaeffer as the veil of speakers The concept of sound as divorced from source The appreciation of sound for its own sake regardless of origin A numerical basis of sound

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music Development of Music Notation Byzantine Empire : c. 390AD differential pitch

Middle Ages Europe: c.850AD Grid system
The grid

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music Randomness in Music

Mozart’s Dice Game (1787)
http://sunsite.univie.ac.at/Mozart/dice/

A Musical game for composing minuets and trios from dice rolls

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1857 E. Leon Scott’s Phonautograph

Sound can now be made permanent, with one slight problem.

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1861 Philip Reis’ Telephone

Sound can now be transmitted across distances rapidly

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1863 Helmholtz publishes On the Sensation of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music

Basis of additive synthesis Any sound can - in theory - be constructed

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1874 Elisha Gray’s Musical Telegraph

Transmission of electronic polyphonic music

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1876 Thomas Edison’s Phonograph

Sound can be recorded and reproduced

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music

Solidified sound wave

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1889 Claude Debussy at L’Exposition Universelle

Ocean of Sound and the birth of Ambient music

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1895 Thaddeus Cahill’s Telharmonium

The first synthesiser

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1907 Busoni’s Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music

The promise of electronic music

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1913 Russolo’s The Art of Noises

The democratising of all sound and the destruction of musical elitism

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1913 Russolo’s The Art of Noises

Wicked noise-makers

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1915 Varèse moves to New York in search of a new music

I dream of instruments obedient to my thoughts and which with their contribution of a whole new world of unsuspected sounds, will lend themselves to the exigencies of my inner rhythm

Our musical alphabet must be enriched, I refuse to limit myself to sounds that have already been heard...What I am looking for is new mechanical mediums which will lend themselves to every expression of thought and keep up with thought

An organiser of sound

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1915 Lee De Forest patents vacuum tube

Miniaturisation of electronics

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1929 RCA releases the Theremin

Commercialisation of electronic instrument and in the 1930s the Terpsitone and Rhythmicon

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1924 Respighi’s The Pines of Rome

Blending of live and pre-recorded music

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1930 Hindemith and Toch’s Grammophonmusik

Audio manipulation

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1948 Schaeffer’s Etude aux Chemin de Fer Musique Concrète

Found sound, sampling, looping, filtering reverb and the ‘sound object’

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1948 Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano

Bionic virtuosity

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1952 Cage’s 4’33”

All sound considered

4’33” live version

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1952 Luening and Ussachevsky

Live effects

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1956 Louis & Bebe Barron’s Forbidden Planet score

A working electronic music studio

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1957 The IIliac Suite The Birth of Computer Music

Live effects

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1958 Varèse’s Poème Electronique

Major display of electronic work a graphic score with a familiar look

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1958 Dissevelt’s Whirling

Birth of pop electronic music

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1959 Cindy Electronium

Raymond Scott (1908-94) was a Jazz musician, jingle writer, electronic artist and inventor, and one of the earliest to fully adopt the music technology as a useful -and profitable-part of the composer toolkit rather than esoteric experimentalism - similarly Stevie Wonder in the early 70s embraced the studio to make more efficient the compositional process

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1964 The Moog

The development of synthesis

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1971 NHK first digital recording

The extraordinary rate of development of processors allows sound to be manipulated beyond physical constraints. And what used to be housed in 200 tons of hardware can be emulated while checking email. If cars developed like computers they would travel at 470,000 mph, get 100,000 miles to the litre, cost 2p, and could balance on a matchstick.

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music 1983 MIDI patented

A musical language for computers

Key Historical Events in Contemporary Computer Music

Now

Applied vs. ‘Pure Music’

How does computer composing differ from composing?

Additional Reading

Holmes, T., (2008) Electronic and Experimental Music, revised 3rd edition. New York: Routledge. Manning, P. (2004) Electronic and Computer Music .Oxford: Clarendon Press. Toop, D. (2001) Ocean of Sound. Serpent’s Tail.

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