Music Derived from Other Sources

By Clarence Barlow.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

One imagines composed music as originating in the mind of an author. Indeed, I have for the last five decades been composing music in this fashion. However, for the last four decades I have also been repeatedly attracted to various methods of deriving music from sources both inside and outside the field. These sources have been linguistic, acoustic (field recordings), visual and mathematical (parametric formulae) as well as other works of music. For most of these operations I have resorted to strict algorithmic means and the use of computer programming. In this paper I will outline the sources mentioned above and go a little into detail in some of them. For instance the linguistic: I have used text orthography, spectral analyses of human speech, digital recordings of the human voice, and synthetic semantic structures. In the case of the visual, it was the conversion of pixellated photographs, city silhouettes, abstract films and geometric models as well as the visualization of algorithmically generated music that played a central role in the compositional plan. In other words, the paper will provide a general overview and examples. This is the first time I have covered more than one type of source in a single article.

Keywords: Linguistics, Orthography, Semantics, Synthrumentation, Digital Sound Processing, Field Recordings, Image Sonification, Harmonicity, Metricity

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp.135-146. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 5.558MB).

Prof. Clarence Barlow

Corwin Chair of Composition, Music Department, Media Arts and Technology Program, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Clarence Barlow was born in 1945. His first compositions date from 1957. Obtaining a science degree in 1965, he moved in 1968 to Cologne, where he studied electronic music and composition at the Music University with Eimert, Zimmermann and Stockhausen until 1973. Since 1969 he has worked in electronic studios in Cologne, Utrecht, Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago and The Hague. His use of a computer as a compositional aid dates from 1971. He was lecturer for Computer Music at Cologne Music Academy from 1984-2006. From 1990-94 he was Artistic Director of the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he thereafter was Professor of Composition and Sonology. Since 2006 he has been Head of the Composition Program in the Music Department of the University of California Santa Barbara. His special interests are algorithmic composition and computer music.

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