Computer music  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Computer music is a term that was originally used within academia to describe a field of study relating to the applications of computing technology in music composition; particularly that stemming from the Western art music tradition. It includes the theory and application of new and existing technologies in music, such as sound synthesis, digital signal processing, sound design, sonic diffusion, acoustics, and psychoacoustics. The field of computer music can trace its roots back to the origin of electronic music, and the very first experiments and innovations with electronic instruments at the turn of the 20th century. More recently, with the advent of personal computing, and the growth of home recording, the term computer music is now sometimes used to describe any music that has been created using computing technology.

History

Much of the work on computer music has drawn on the relationship between music theory and mathematics. The world's first computer to play music was CSIRAC which was designed and built by Trevor Pearcey and Maston Beard. Mathematician Geoff Hill programmed the CSIRAC to play popular musical melodies from the very early 1950s. In 1951 it publicly played the Colonel Bogey March of which no known recordings exist. However, CSIRAC played standard repertoire and was not used to extend musical thinking or composition practice which is current computer music practice.

The oldest known recordings of computer generated music were played by the Ferranti Mark I computer, a commercial version of the Baby Machine from the University of Manchester in the autumn of 1951. The music program was written by Christopher Strachey. During a session recorded by the BBC, the machine managed to work its way through Baa Baa Black Sheep, God Save the King and part of In the Mood. Subsequently, Lejaren Hiller (e.g., the Illiac Suite) used a computer in the mid 1950s to compose works that were then played by conventional musicians. Later developments included the work of Max Mathews at Bell Laboratories, who developed the influential MUSIC I program. Vocoder technology was also a major development in this early era.

Early computer music programs typically did not run in real-time. Programs would run for hours or days, on multi-million dollar computers, in order to generate a few minutes of music. John Chowning's work on FM synthesis, in the early 70s, and the advent of inexpensive digital chips and microcomputers opened the door to real-time generation of computer music. By the early 90s, the performance of microprocessor-based computers reached the point that real-time generation of computer music using more general programs and algorithms became possible.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Computer music" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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