placement in the engineer category.
At the other end of the spectrum, particularly
Oswald is using recorded material with very clear
references. It is part of his music that the listener
should be able to recognize the source. In Pizzicato
Five's case, the reference is not clear, but becomes
a more unspecified index to certain musical styles
or TV series of the past. None of these musicians
are concerned with speculations about the physical
properties of sound or abstract composition
methods. They regard their material as sound in a
cultural sense: recorded music. The musical
meaning of their pieces is created to a large extent
by the interplay between the audible events and
their references to existing music and musical
If we try to place these four works into normal
style and genre categories, we would place Saariaho
and Truax in the stream of Western art music,
Oswald in the American tradition of experimental
music as described above, and Pizzicato Five as
international pop music. Whereas we could expect
to meet Saariaho and Truax at a conference like
the ICMC, this is unlikely with Oswald or
Pizzicato Five, even if their music clearly qualifies,
according to the open definition discussed in the
introduction. Our study does not confirm that
computer music constitutes some substantially new
cultural formation which goes beyond existing
style and genre demarcations. This might be due to
our limited material, which can not be said to be
But we rather think that it is a sign that the
computer music discourse addressed in the
definition for the ICMC 2000 and discussed in
Chambers' 1994 paper, is itself a part of the
'engineer culture' as described above. The lack of
cultural focus when discussing computer music in
favour of mathematically-oriented research is in
total compliance with the 'engineer tradition' of
Western art music as we have described above.
It adds to the impression that the amount of
learning required to be able to work professionally
with computer composition software is not small,
even for a trained musician. Programming skills
are needed in order to work out your ideas, and in
most cases translation of musical ideas into
mathematical algorithms is necessary to a degree
that would be unacceptable in most other
It is our claim that this increased willingness on
the part of some computer music composers is not
incidental, but an affirmation of the engineer
tradition. The price to be paid for this is that
computer music, the 'engineer way', is extending
the serial music's compartmentalization as expert
Adding an aesthetic dimension to a field like this is
a little bit like inviting a stranger in. A true
interdisciplinary approach, comprising a wider
cultural perspective on computer-created music
has a long way to go, not the least in creating a
theoretical foundation. We understand the
emphasis on the creative aspect as a theme of this
conference as a sign of willingness to enter this
process, and we hope to have shown through our
study that musicology has a positive role to play.
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View: Sketch of an Ethnomusicological and Aesthetic
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ICMC. 1999. ICMC 2000. Calls for Participation
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ingenior i computermusikken. Unpublished thesis,
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Oswald, John. 1986. Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as
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