Reading Response 4



From this week’s reading I am responding to Principle 4.10 from Chapter 4 of Artful Design, “Programmability is Both Blessing and Curse”, whereby there are infinite possibilities within a framework that an “artful programmer” must negotiate to make something interesting. This Principle extends to many fields where there are many tools available for one to harness and create something. Particularly for creative endeavors, it is easy to fear the blank canvas.

The “curse” part of this is something that I have struggled with and continue to challenge myself to set arbitrary themes or create a framework for myself. The power of intention is something I’ve come to lean on. I once read a post from one of my favorite artists, Olafur Arnalds, who said something along the lines of “our own limitations sometimes result in the most beautiful things” – and that was when I internalized that it was okay to create the things I create, that I didn’t have to be a genius or a virtuoso, and that my art mattered. Chapter 4 discusses in depth about how we have become equipped with power over many parameters that we are able to control via Chuck–as well as many other languages depending on the goal–thus granting us freedom to do whatever we want. But then the question is what do we want to do? In response to Principle 4.9 “The Purpose of a Computer is to Do Something Else”, in order to create with impact, intention underlies everything. The development of technology is going exponentially faster than the cultural changes that we adapt to. While we have the ability to make some new interesting sounds, it’s important to give them context. I am pretty open minded when it comes to music AND I believe sound, texture, and effect are like actors in a play. They have a role, there are times they should come in, and times they should exit in order to make a cohesive piece. You should not give a high hat the function of a kick drum by giving it a 4 on the floor down beat. You should not give a bassoon a melody better suited for a violin. You should probably not abuse different effects on whatever sounds and call it a day. I (and probably many others) am guilty of being obsessed with learning how things work, spending too much time on it, focusing on too much on displaying the capabilities of something, and losing artistic direction as I run out of time. So I frequently have to check myself with these questions: What’s your end goal with this here? If you have a palette of new sounds, are you going to completely abandon form? Or modify it to this new palette? If you have a new form are you going to completely abandon the textural balance humans have learned to be accustomed to? Or only deviate just enough from cultural codes so that the sounds still find a role in the music? It’s a lot to negotiate.