[ISEA94] Gerhard Eckel & Barbara Becker – Computer Assisted Composition: Some Remarks on Problems



Music creation has always been constrained by technology but it is only since the advent of new media that technological tools are directly employed in the compositional process. Computers can be used today to represent, relate, and manipulate structures and concepts relevant to music and they allow for direct production and transformation of sound by the composer. Despite the creative potential offered to musical expression by these new possibilities the application of computer aided composition systems is still rather unsatisfactory in practice. We identified two types of reasons that contribute to that situation: On the one hand the existing tools cannot really cope with the complexity and the idiosyncrasies inherent to the creative process. On the other hand the current employment of technology in art seems to prolong a certain technological habit of mind in approaching and explicating the world which may contradict an important objective of art: to propose alternative ways of perceiving and conceiving the world. What can be done to overcome these obstacles? How should computer tools for music composition be designed and how should they be used? With respect to the first type of problems the solutions seem comparably evident: Besides providing powerful methods to describe musically relevant objects and their relationships newtive modification with auditive feedback to allow for a better exploration of complex musical situations – a feature especially computer technology can offer to musical composition. With respect to the second type of problems the solutions seem much less evident: Probably only a global change in our attitude towards the use of technology in general will improve its applications in the arts. The technological habit of mind which aims at control and domination will have to be developed towards an attitude which favours a genuine potential of technology: the capacity to extend the repertoire of artistic expression.