electronic computer music


Early electronic music meant electrified instruments, analogue audio tape, and wax cylinder recordings. Today, as electricity is ubiquitous and computers are the rising star: electronic music implies computers.

Computers have become a lot of things, through mass usage they take on a plethora of meanings and contexts. They are, essentially for our purposes, new tools. The tool brings new possibility to the artist, and new mediums. A computer is a good machine for copying things.

A computer is essentially two things: a processor of data, and storage of the data itself. RAM and ROM are the virtual memory essential to the function of the processor. A processor is, at its heart, a collection of transistor logic switches that count binary numbers. The processor computes the data by copying it through itself, from physical to virtual memory, back and forth. As it does, the data changes by the rules of the logic sequence, the program of instructions. That is processing; a computer cannot actually think to do anything. If a computer can't copy, then it can't be!

The notion of limiting the copies of data put onto a computer, is fundamentally absurd. Technology that tries to limit the ability of a computer to copy something goes against the fundamental principles of computing.

Computers are good at creating copies and unable to deal with true uniqueness. Data is always a copy of something else. Data can be anything, so long as it is in an abstracted [usually binary] format.

The motif of copying and repetitions we hear in electronic music. Artists use the machine to effortlessly copy or multiply sounds. Multiplication is a mathematical abstraction that we apply to reality by ignoring uniqueness and grouping items together as copies. Computing is applied mathematics.

Once we begin to put music into a computer, we can do virtually anything with that file. In early rock and roll, technologies like electric guitar distortion had enormous impact lasting many years. Computers open up many more possibilities; sometimes it is overwhelming. It will take many more years and all of the people, to realise the new potential and new techniques. New sounds and infinite ways of modifying them are revealed, unlimited. Distance, time and other non-abstract realities can be ignored to shape music data. This also allows for new types of collaborations to occur, especially with the internet, by sharing data files.

The question is, will we, or will art be stifled by copyright law?