Music and The Machine


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Film and literature often reflect on technology, but what does music have to say? An, in particular, music made with technology? A look at the intimate relationship between music and technology over the past 50 years.

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Music and The Machine

  1. 1. Music and the Machine Technological Themes in Electronic Music Andrew Dun: Science, Technology & The Future 2013
  2. 2. Ferruccio Busoni (Italy, 1866 - 1924): 'I almost think that in the new great music, machines will also be necessary and will be assigned a share in it. Perhaps industry, too, will bring forth her share in the artistic ascent.’ (Sketch of a New Esthetic of Music,1907)
  3. 3. Influences Futurism, Dada, Musique concrète, Avante Garde, Electro-Acoustic, Minimalism Duchamp, Stockhausen, Josef Tal, Alvin Lucier, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Cage, Robert Ashley, CSIRAC
  4. 4. BBC Radiophonic Workshop London, England,1958 Onward
  5. 5. Ron Grainer / Delia Derbyshire: Electronic Music circa 1963 Scitech: Lava Lamp, Mellotron, Arecibo Observatory, Final NASA Mercury Probe Zeitgeist: Milgram’s Shock Experiment, ‘Butterfly Effect’, The Birds (film), Doctor No (film) Tools: Acoustic Strings, Test Oscillators, White Noise, Analogue Tape Themes: Abstraction, Experimentation, Atmospherics Technology Attitudes: Exploratory “Some sounds were created at all the required pitches direct from the oscillators, others had to be repitched later. This was done by taking the piece of tape with the sound on and looping it. The loop was placed on a tape machine and its playback speed varied until the pitch was correct, then the sound was rerecorded onto another machine. This process continued until every sound was available at all the required pitches.” Dr Who Theme
  6. 6. Jean-Michel Jarre Lyon, France, 1973 to Present
  7. 7. Jean Michelle Jarre: Progressive Electronica circa 1976 Scitech: Altair 8800 (1975), Apple Computer founded, Viking 1 Lander, Concorde Zeitgeist: James Callaghan PM (UK), Ford regime (USA), Logan’s Run (film), Saints - Stranded (Melbourne) Contemps: Vangelis, Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind Tools: ARP 2600, EMS VCS 3, Eminent 310, 8 Track Recorder (early demos), Fairlight CMI (Peter Vogel Insts) Themes: Ambience, Psychedelia, Science Fiction, Futurism, Platonicity, Ethereality Technology Attitudes: Optimistic, Exploratory, Utopian, Playful, Adventurous
  8. 8. Jean Michelle Jarre: Oxygene 1976 Oxygene (Part I) Oxygene (Part II) Oxygene (Part III) Oxygene (Part IV) Oxygene (Part V) Oxygene (Part VI)
  9. 9. Kraftwerk Düsseldorf, Germany, 1974 to Present
  10. 10. Kraftwerk / Electro circa 1978 Scitech: First Bulletin Board System (Chicago), Discovery of Charon, Artificial Insulin Zeitgeist: China lifts ban on Western Lit, Sydney G&L Solidarity March, USSR Stockpile > US Contemps: ? Tools: Vocoder, Votrax, Synthesizer, Prophet 5, Prophet 10, Yamaha CS-80, Minimoog Themes: Futurism, Constructivism, Utopianism, Europe, Germany, Technology, Mass Production, Robots Technology Attitudes: Inquisitive, Engaged, Provocative, Humorous, Irreverent
  11. 11. Kraftwerk / Man-Machine 1978 A1 The Robots A2 Spacelab A3 Metropolis B1 The Model B2 Neon Lights B3 The Man-Machine Die Mensch Maschine, Halb Wesen und halb Ding Die Mensch Maschine, Halb Wesen und halb Überding Man Machine, semi human being Man Machine, super human being
  12. 12. Brian Eno England, 1970s to Present
  13. 13. Brian Eno / Ambient circa 1978 Music for Airports 1978 1/1 2/1 1/2 2/2
  14. 14. Throbbing Gristle 1975–1981, 2004–2010
  15. 15. Throbbing Gristle / Industrial circa 1976 Players: Test Dept, Einsturzende Neubauten, Non, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire, Lou Reed Tools: Tape Machine, Found Sounds, Synthesizers, Guitar, Bass, Sax, Contact Mics Themes: Industrialisation, Transgression, Technocracy, Power, Control, War, Alienation, Abstraction, Occultism, Extremism Tech Attitudes: Experimental, Anarchic, Instrumental, Ironic, Punk
  16. 16. Throbbing Gristle / Music from the Death Factory (1976) Untitled Untitled Discipline Photophobia (Cabaret Voltaire) Total State Machine (Test Department, 1984)
  17. 17. Depeche Mode Basildon, UK, 1980 to Present
  18. 18. Depeche Mode / Synth Pop circa 1981 Scitech: IBM PC, Donkey Kong, First Heart-Lung transplant, First Space Shuttle flight Zeitgeist: AIDS Pandemic, Reagan elected, Iran-Contra authorisation, Brixton riot, Pepsi in China Contemps: New Order, Human League, Ultravox, OMD, Japan, Gary Numan Tools: Korg KR-55, ARP 2600. Also: DX7 (1983), Fairlight CMI, Synclavier, Emulator Themes: Love, Conflict, Personal vs Political, War, Sexuality, Capitalism, Cyber-pop Tech Attitudes: Technology as culturally sophisticated; not alien
  19. 19. Depeche Mode / Speak and Spell 1981 New Life Puppets Dreaming Of Me Boys Say Go! Nodisco What's Your Name? Photographic Tora! Tora! Tora! Big Muff Any Second Now (Voices) Just Can't Get Enough Ice Machine Photographic (Some Bizarre) John Foxx - Underpass
  20. 20. Laurie Anderson New York, USA, Late 1960s to Present
  21. 21. Laurie Anderson / Big Science 1982 From The Air Big Science Sweaters Walking & Falling Born, Never Asked O Superman (For Massenet) (#2 UK) Example #22 Let X=X It Tango O Superman: ”In this case it was the Contra affair and defeat as we were experiencing a series of techno disasters- helicopters trying to rescue hostages and crashing in the desert. Oh, and as well as now, yet another war that is endless-or as the same war. The same conflict with Islam.” (Mojo Magazine, June 2008) “So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms. In your electronic arms.” Cf. Dot Allison - We Are Science (2002)
  22. 22. Clock DVA Sheffield, England, 1978 to Present
  23. 23. Clock DVA / Electronic Body Music circa 1992 Scitech: IBM Simon Smartphone, Carbon Nanotubes, WWW (browser), PGP Encryption, arXiv Zeitgeist: Dunbar’s Number, Sonic the Hedgehog, Alien 3, Terminator 2, LA Riots, Nirvana Contemps: Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, DAF, Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy, Cabaret Voltaire, FLA Tools: DMX, Matrix, Akai S900, DX7, Emulator II, Korg MS-20, Kurzweil K2000, Commodore Amiga Properties: Bass driven, 120bpm, Heavy percussion, Syncopation Themes: Physicality, Machinery, Human Body, Facism, Corporatism, Repression, Identity, Fetishism Attitudes: Technology both fetishised and critiqued. Transhumanism? Voice Recognition Test: Axiomatic & Heuristic: Warsaw Ghetto:
  24. 24. Clock DVA / Man Amplified 1992 Man-Amplifiers Techno Geist Axiomatic And Heuristic NYC Overload Transitional Voices Bitstream Fractalize Final Program Dark Attractor Memories Of Sound Voice Recognition Test Hacker
  25. 25. Jeff Mills Detroit, USA, Early 80s to Present
  26. 26. Jeff Mills / Detroit Techno circa 1993 Scitech: Intel Pentium, PDF Format 1.0, Sibelius Music Notation, Mosaic Browser 1.0, Hubble Telescope Optics Correction, Windows 3.11 Zeitgeist: Jurassic Park (film), Detroit recession, START Treaty, IBM $5b Corporate Loss, Maastricht Treaty (European Union), Turntablism Others: Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson (Belleville Three), Cybotron Tools: Roland 808, Roland 909, Delay, Reverb, Turntables, Samplers Properties: Microsound, Microtonality, Polyrhythms, 4/4, Syncopation, Physicality, Full frequency Themes: Urbanism, Futurism, ‘Soul in the machine’, Urban Decay, Robotics, Metropolis (2000) Attitudes: Techno-progressive.
  27. 27. Jeff Mills / Waveform Transmission 1993 The Extremist Solid Sleep Life Cycle Workers Wrath Of The Punisher DNA Condor To Mallorca Basic Human Design The Bells: The Bells Orchestral (1:10, 2005): DVS-1 Behind Lines (a):
  28. 28. Björk Reykjavík, Iceland, 1977 to Present
  29. 29. Björk / Electronica circa 1999 Scitech: First Blackberry, HTTP 1.1, Windows 98 SE, Power Macintosh G4, Napster Zeitgeist: Kosovo Peace Treaty, Helen Clark NZ PM, WTO Protests, Loss of Mars Polar Lander, Matrix (film) Others: Orbital, Underworld, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Leftfield, The Orb Tools: Sampling Audio Workstations, DAWs (eg Protools), Software plugins Themes: Grunge, Texture, Urban and global culture, Grassroots, Community, Networks Attitudes: Technology as complementary, subtle, organic; hybridised All Is Full Of Love (1998) (a?)
  30. 30. Ryoji Ikeda Gifu, Japan, 1995 to Present
  31. 31. Ryoji Ikeda / Minimal circa 2005 Scitech: Youtube Launched, IBM Blue Brain Project, Successful Completion of DARPA Grand Challenge Zeitgeist: GW Bush wins second term, Kyoto Protocol takes effect, Angela Merkel assumes office, Kūru Japan Others: Alva Noto, Shinjuku Thief, Black Lung, Monolake, Ryuichi Sakamoto Tools: Max MSP, Open Frameworks, Custom Software Themes: Data, Mathematics, Transmission, Computation, Pattern, Abstraction Attitudes: Technological Abstraction and Immersion The Transfinite (2012)
  32. 32. Ryoji Ikeda / Dataplex 2005 data.index data.simplex data.duplex data.triplex data.multiplex data.complex data.hypercomplex data.googolplex data.microhelix data.superhelix data.minimax data.syntax data.telex data.flex data.reflex data.convex data.vertex data.vortex data.matrix data.adaplex The Transfinite (2012)
  33. 33. Emmy, Emily Howell, David Cope? Santa Cruz, USA, 1980s to Present
  34. 34. David Cope / Generative circa 2012 Scitech: Higgs-Boson evidence, Nevada allows autonomous vehicles, Sirtuins linked to longevity, Google Glass, Telomerase gene therapy extends lifespans in mice, iPv6 launch, Implantation of bionic eye, Mars Curiosity rover Zeitgeist: Alan Turing Year, Cameron reaches Challenger Deep, Arab Spring, London Olympics, Greek debt crisis Others (Algorthmic): CSIRAC (1951), Hiller Isaacson (1957), Mathews / MUSIC 1 (1963), Kurzweil (1963), Ezaki (1970), Melomics (Spain, 2012) Others (Improvising): Various - work underway in France, USA, UK, Netherlands, Israel, Australia Tools: Sampling and Algorithmic Analysis (EMI, EH), Machine Learning (Annie, 2012 onward) Others: Max MSP, Pure Data, fractal geometry algorithms. Improvisational: Continuator (Markov Models), Omax, factor oracle algorithm Themes: Various, Formalist Attitudes: Exploratory, technical, positive, visionary.
  35. 35. EMI (Experiments in Musical Intelligence) / Computer Composed Music 1997 In 1997, with much of the classical music world paying attention, Emmy went head-to-head against two formidable opponents at the University of Oregon. Steve Larson, a professor of music theory at the school, helped put the event together. He also was one of the combatants. An audience of a few hundred people listened while three piano pieces, all meant to sound like Bach, were played, one composed by Emmy, one by Larson, and one by Bach himself. The audience then voted on the identity of each composition. Larson’s pride took a ding when his piece was fingered as that belonging to the computer. When the crowd decided that Emmy’s piece was the true product of the late musician, Larson winced. Automate This: How Algorithms Took Over Our Markets, Our Jobs, and the World by Christopher Steiner (2012)
  36. 36. EMI (Experiments in Musical Intelligence) / Computer Composed Music 1997 Daniel Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at Tufts University, appreciated the marvel of Emmy, but still didn’t think a machine could compete. “As wonderful as Cope’s work is, there is something thin about it,” he said.16 A composer built from software has no sense of the real world and therefore no idea how to express true feelings through music, Dennett reasoned. (ibid) The compositions that result can then also be fed back into it, over and over, along with whatever other music comes along in MIDI format,* and the result is EMI’s own “personal” musical style… EMI can now compose not just two-part inventions and art songs but whole symphonies—and has composed over a thousand, when last I heard. They are good enough to fool experts (composers and professors of music), and I can personally attest to the fact that an EMI-Puccini aria brought a lump to my throat. (Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, Daniel C Dennett, 2013)
  37. 37. Emily Howell / From Darkness, Light 2010 From Darkness, Light (20:57) 1 Erika Arul & Mary Jane Cope – I Prelude 2:34 2 Erika Arul & Mary Jane Cope – II Fugue 3:13 3 Erika Arul & Mary Jane Cope – III Prelude 4:06 4 Erika Arul & Mary Jane Cope – IV Fugue 6:02 5 Erika Arul & Mary Jane Cope – V Prelude 3:16 6 Erika Arul & Mary Jane Cope – VI Fugue 1:43 7 Emily Howell, Ensemble Paralléle* – Land Of Stone Shadow Worlds (20:01) 8 Emily Howell – 9 Emily Howell – 10 Emily Howell – 11 Emily Howell – 17:14 I 6:23 II 5:39 III 5:02 IV Iamus - Nasciturus
  38. 38. 2013 Algorithms, Machine Learning, Cheap Computation, Live Coding, Sound Art, Multi-Sensory Music, Vocal Tuning, Electro-Acoustic
  39. 39. Currents Technology, music, culture, humanity: movement through experimentation, utopianism, dystopianism, assimilation, subsumption, abstraction, critical reflection, pluralism, selfrepresentation, recursion, feedback
  40. 40. Also… Metal - Gary Numan The Becoming - NIN A Machine Spiritual (In The People's Key) - Bright Eyes A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun - Manic Street Preachers Radiohead - Kid A Nothing But Flowers - Talking Heads The Future Will Be Silent - OMD Total Life Forever - Foals Where The Birds Always Sing - The Cure Virus - Deltron 3030 Blame The Machines - Duran Duran Transmission - Joy Division
  41. 41. Future Narrow AI, General AI, BCIs, TMS, Smart Drugs, Bionics, Neurohacks
  42. 42. Noise I believe that the use of noise to make music will continue and increase until we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments which will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard. —John Cage The Future of Music: Credo (1937) Darrin Verhagen, Richard Grant 2005