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||Philadelphia Computer Music Festival
Computer Music and the Festival by Dick Moberg
What Is Computer Music?
Computer music can be defined as a type of electronic music which is produced either directly by a computer or indirectly by a computer-controlled synthesizer. Computers can produce a sound directly by storing the waveform of that sound as a series of varying numbers in its memory and then converting these numbers to voltages to drive a speaker. The string of numbers can be manipulated by the computer at very fast speeds which accounts for the amazing flexibility of computer synthesized music.
Although, theoretically, any sound could be produced in this manner, the programming can get rather tedious. But computers are also being used to sequence and to control the parameters of conventional synthesizer circuits. This is much easier, but perhaps a bit less flexible, than directly computing each waveform. This latter technique is the most popular today and accounts for most of the music on this album.
The Personal Computer Music Revolution
I often wonder what music will be like after the microelectronics revolution puts a computer in every home. But why should computers change things? Up until this time music listening has been just that—passive listening to recordings of music. But with computers we all become “sound explorers” because we can now take an active part in changing the music we hear or to compose our own. We can master any instrument’s sound without the years of tedious practice or we can create our own “instruments;” combinations of conventional ones or entirely new ones. The technology to do all this is here today and the mass production and availabilityof personal computers is being felt by the public as never before. We are truly at the dawn of the personal computer music revolution. Just as the radio brought music listening to the masses, so will computers bring music composition and exploration to them too.