Mike Wilson's Blog

I was a MA/MST student at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Accoustics.

This is my weblog.

Click here for my main page.


CCRMA's Winter Concert was yesterday.  And, hearkening back to my
2010-09-16 post, I feel like I finally understand and can appreciate
computer music.

It's interesting because I've been making music with computers in some
form or another since I was a young child, but I feel like there was a
section of "computer music" that I didn't really understand until I
started studying the subject in depth here at CCRMA.

Does that mean that the field lacks some sort of intrinsic
accessibility?  I don't think so, at least not any more than music in
general (and I think music is generally very accessible).  Does it
mean that my tastes have changed, or that being here has somehow
warped me?  Again, I don't think that's the case.

Rather, I think it takes time and exposure to develop a context for
listening to some types of music.  Now that I have listened to, and
tried my hand at creating, music with a variety of computer-based
synthesis and compositional techniques I have a better sense of how
skill is involved and what is going on in general.

I still have my personal taste; there are pieces with similar amounts
of apparent effort put into them which I like more than others.  And
there are still a lot of things that completely blow me away where I
have no idea what I just heard.  But I feel that I have achieved some
sort of critical mass of understanding.

I didn't really "get" classical music until I listened to and played a
certain amount of it, and I didn't really "get" hip-hop until I
listened to some and tried writing some rhymes back in high school.  I
guess it's arguable that I don't "get" them still, but there was a
certain point with both genres where I felt "Ah, now I understand."
Now when I hear the types of artistic computer music pieces that I
just couldn't get a handle on before I am able to interpret them
through the context of my experiences at CCRMA.  Is this what they
call art appreciation?

In the end it's hard to strictly classify things (part of why music
information retrieval is difficult - even we humans don't always agree
on how a piece of music should be labeled).  I'm just glad that I've
been introduced to music that I was previously unaware of.  It's
always nice to learn new things!

In other news, Korean Broadcasting System's Science Cafe has been
filming at CCRMA for a segment on the science of sound.  I don't know
if I made it into any of the footage, but I did help a bit with some
setup and demonstrations related to the work I'm doing with Jonathan
Abel.  I also got to listen in on a great interview.  It seems like
they took some excellent footage so if you're in Korea I encourage you
to keep an eye out for it.

email mwilson@alumni.caltech.edu
Disclaimer: the views herein are my own and do not represent the views of Stanford University. All material copyright Michael J. Wilson.