Computer-Music.com contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music. Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

Computer-Music.com  contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music.
Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com



 

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A World of Uncertainty...

I have given a number of lectures on composing for interactive audio. But each time I felt like I was not fully communicating all that was necessary to make interactive music work in the real world. I have always known that a certain amount of musical skill was also necessary and hoped that the listener would have the necessary skills to implement the suggestions that I was presenting. As I thought more about it I realized that the musical skills required for interactive composition go beyond those needed for linear composition. In interactive music many situations can arise that have no parallel in linear music. In linear composition there is a beginning, a middle and end so the composer lays out a linear composition like a story and can be certain that the various sections will be played in the correct order for the whole composition to have the intended effect. For example, the beginning of the tune usually presents a theme to the listener. In subsequent measures that theme will be expanded upon in various ways until the composer feels that the theme has been fully presented.

An interactive composition may have a beginning, middle and an end or it may not. It all depends on how that music will be implemented in the program. Because of this, several factors that a composer has traditionally relied upon are not present. He may not know for sure whether the exposition will happen before the conclusion; whether the first verse will be heard before the second; or even whether this particular series of notes will ever be heard at all. Because of this each small piece of music must have a much stronger internal structure than if it were in a larger linear composition. This has caused many interactive composers to resort to a very closed modular design in which each segment of music is completely independent of every other. The big problem with this scheme is that the result is often no longer a composition as much as a series of short, independent musical phrases. For music to be satisfying it must have a path to follow. Several well-used analogies apply. One is that the music takes the listener on a trip down a path, which twists and turns but eventually returns to the point of origin. Another is the idea that a piece of music serves the purpose of showing off or framing a simple musical idea. Yet another analogy is that of a roller coaster ride wherein the listener begins calm and is subsequently taken through a series of emotions culminating in high tension and drama but eventually returning to a state of calm and rightness. There are many more analogies describing what a piece of music does between the beginning and end but they all have one thing in common. They all have a structure that relies on knowing where the beginning and middle and end will happen. Interactive music rarely has this luxury so these effects must be achieved in a more creative manner.

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