Man and Machine

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As I've said before, electronics, from recording technology to the theremin to looping pedals to Max/MSP, have had the largest and widest-spanning impact on music since polyphony.

When I was a kid in the '80's, the general attitude of the classical musicians around whom I spent most of my time was "synthesizers are poor replacements for musicians." In this environment, general MIDI orchestral hits and faux-trumpet fanfares were met with tongue-clucking and disdain. And for good reason! Why fake a viola when a real one's available. However! As technology expanded and grew, and as ideas about how and where to use it evolved simultaneously, this powerful tool revealed its amazing flexibility and raw possibility.

I must admit my attitude was heavily influenced by that of the adults around me, and while now I revel in Wendy Carlos and Bucla anything, I'm pretty sure an early encounter with the synthesized score to The NeverEnding Story scared me away from analogue synths for a solid decade.

This week, we are going to explore the humanization of electronic music and the "electrification," if you will, of acoustic playing. Electronics have profoundly effected the way we perceive, recieve, process, create, critique and rehearse music. We'll listen to artists manipulating electronics to sound unbelievably fragile and human, and composers creating wind textures that sound like sawtooth waves.

As electronic instruments and technologies evolved, and as composers and performers experimented with using machines in different ways, the very music being created began to change.

Has technology effected your life in an unexpected way? Do you write differently as a result of typing, or read differently as a result of computers? Does technology simply aid us, or actually guide in creation?