Exploring the World of Computer Music Composition

MUSIC 152 – Computer Music Composition

MUSIC 152. Computer Music Composition. 4 Units. Intensive study of the composition of musical sounds that are only possible with computer-assisted analysis and practice in creating new computer compositions.

Supplemental instruction related to student’s area of study, with faculty guidance, resulting in a formal paper/project. Repeatability: May be repeated for credit.

1. Introduction to Music

The term music is applied to any sound that has rhythm, melody and harmony. It is an aspect of every culture and is considered a cultural universal. But the question of where and how it came to be is still being debated. Some scholars think it evolved as a natural extension of language, while others believe it has a specific function that may be related to mating calls in the animal kingdom.

The earliest musical sounds were probably rhythmic, as evidenced by the fact that early humans clapped their hands and hit objects together. Rhythm is an important part of music, as is the concept of rests (silence) that help to organize the sounds into patterns and compositions. Other concepts of music include timbre, or the quality of sound – whether it is harsh, warm, dry, etc.

2. Introduction to Opera

The art of opera is an intense and sometimes difficult mix of music, words, drama, costumes, and staging. It attempts to portray a heightened reality that transports audiences into a world beyond their own.

It emerged from the elaborate entertainment format used to impress visitors at Italian and French royal palaces in the 17th century. These spectacles combined acted and sung episodes, often depicting historical or mythological events.

Composers adopted the new form because its theatrical style, stile rappresentativo, allowed them to explore emotions and dramatic situations musically. They also liked how it allowed them to use a type of singing that approached spoken dialogue. Over the years, the balance between sung and spoken elements has shifted repeatedly. Today, the vast majority of operas are sung.

3. Popular Music in the U.S.

The influx of different groups of people to America over time has contributed to the diversity of styles that have become popular in American music. Examples include spirituals, which sound like Christian hymns sung in call-and-response style, and cakewalks, a dance style that became popular in minstrel shows. Another example is Appalachian folk music, which blends together Irish, Scottish and English folk styles, and country music, which was at its height in the 1940s with groups such as the Almanac Singers and The Weavers.

The development of mass production in the late 19th Century allowed songwriters to make money by publishing sheet music, and a centralized music industry emerged in New York City known as Tin Pan Alley. This enabled the emergence of doo wop, psychedelic rock and later funk music.

4. Ethnomusicology

As music continues to evolve, ethnomusicologists are constantly searching for new ways of describing and understanding its many forms. One major challenge, as pointed out by Nettl, is the impossibility of true objectivity in research.

Ethnomusicologists must also balance the need to accurately describe a culture’s music with the obligation to protect musicians’ privacy. For instance, it may not be appropriate to share information that could put them in danger.

This balancing act has led to the development of ethical guidelines for ethnomusicologists. However, the rules of ethics are constantly changing and must adapt to a constantly evolving world. As a result, the field is becoming more and more anthropological. This shift has also changed the way ethnomusicologists think about music as a cultural domain.

5. Music Theory

Music theory is the foundation of our entire musical experience. Just like the grammatical rules that govern written language, music theory makes it possible for musicians to read and play compositions exactly as the composer intended.

It’s also a powerful tool for improvising and creating music. From composing symphonies to writing catchy rock and pop songs, musicians use music theory to build on their existing skills and push the boundaries of creativity.

Music theory is not only about learning patterns, it’s about understanding why these patterns work. For this reason, it’s essential for any musician. But it can be intimidating to those new to the field. The discipline has been understood in many different ways over time, and some topics have faded into obscurity while others have risen to prominence.

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