Peter Manning

in Electronic and Computer Music

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780195144840
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849802 | DOI:

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There is a strong argument to the effect that it is no longer relevant to distinguish between “electronic” and “computer” music in considering present day activities. If this view is accepted, the question then arises: Which is the more appropriate descriptor, or is it the case that neither can now usefully serve this generic purpose? This quest for more appropriate descriptors begs the question as to why any qualification of the term “music” should be necessary in the first place. To many nowadays, devices such as guitars, synthesizers, and audio processors are the primary agents for making music, and to their way of thinking it is acoustic instruments that require a special label rather than their electronic counterparts. A more considered perspective seeks a reconciliation of these philosophical differences, perhaps by recognizing the diversity of sound-producing agents that may be used to generate music, and the ability of many of these tools to serve both serious and more popular applications alike. This in turn highlights yet again the importance of an informed understanding of the musical and the technical characteristics of the various tools that have been developed over the years, and the extent to which they have succeeded in enhancing the working environment for the composer and performer.

Keywords: electronic music; computer music; acoustic instruments; descriptors; philosophical differences; diversity

Chapter.  3271 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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