Computer Music

This term covers a broad range of music created through the use of one or more computers.

  • The computer may work as (assistant) composer, as in Algorithmic music.
  • Alternatively the computer can be used as an instrument; that is, the computer is the place where the sounds are to be generated, for example sound synthesis.
  • The computer is sometimes brought on stage to create and manipulate sounds made during performance.
  • Finally, the computer may analyse incoming performance information and ‘reply’ in what is known as interactive composition.

The former two possibilities sometimes necessitate a good deal of compilation time; the latter two belong to the category of real time. More recently, music making has witnessed the extensive use of networked computers. [Landy 1994, 127–128, EARS] The International Computer Music Association’s Annual conference, ICMC extends this definition to include things ranging from computer-aided cognition, analysis, information retrieval and much more thus going well beyond the act of music making. Much computer music therefore has little to do with sound-based music.