Australasian Computer Music Association
Faculty of Education and Arts
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Music Research Group
This paper contemplates different processes and results developed by ‘programming composers’ as compared to composers who use programmers to facilitate or realise compositional components of their works. Different models for the relationship between music composition and computer programming are examined, as are the outcomes for composers and performers. For music programmers the compositional process varies according to the composer and the work they wish to create. Complex musical configurations involving sound synthesis, processing, aleatoric and improvisational approaches may be guided by conceptual ideas that do not always originate with programming skills, and can be outsourced within differing levels of collaboration. Gerald Strang’s seminal 1970 essay ‘Ethics and Esthetics of Computer Composition’ asks if it is possible for a ‘programming composer to apply similar kinds of aesthetic and analytical judgments as a composer who does not program [Strang 39]. This paper contends that things have changed, and if the act of music programming were thought of as ‘musical’ by all composers, it could be employed to further the timbral and structural palettes of music composition for all music. Using works of her own and her peers, and a discussion with a ‘programming composer,’ the author discusses some different ways to recognise musicality in computer programming.