[Smt-talk] Aesthetics of Computer-Generated Music

Eliot Handelman eliot at colba.net
Sun Apr 17 09:15:14 PDT 2011

On 16/04/2011 4:50 PM, alex wrote:
> "computer-generated music" is a misnomer.

Only when applied to music that hasn't been generated by the computer in 
any interesting sense,
in which case the term is obviously inappropriate.

The question is, what is this "interesting sense"? It's something that 
artists who do this
sort of thing wish to poeticize. The sense in which something is 
autonomous is, in part,
feel: there's a subjective barrier to an operational definition.

For instance, my private "autonomy test" is whether a program/human has 
an accessible representation of
music it/he/she generates. Post-Cage, not all composers do, but 
pre-Stravinsky all composers did. That
is,. composers are aware of the music they generate AS music, in a way 
that computer programs never
can be. Moreover, this is probably necessary in order to actually 
compose other than in a Cagian idiom.
The problem is therefore to simulate this awareness, and I'm saying this 
is essentially a poetic problem.
When it is addressed by a poetically satisfying answer, one will be able 
to say "computer generated music"
in a poetically committed way, rather than with the drab facticity of 
"computer-generated music," which sounds
like a bad lunch.

-- eliot


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