Computers and music
- John Strawn
- , revised by Alan Shockley
A computer is an electronic machine capable of storing, retrieving, and manipulating information at high speeds in response to a set of instructions, or software program. Early on, computers were customarily distinguished according to their method of operation: analog computers, now essentially considered obsolete, work by means of continuously varying voltages; digital computers use discrete units of information in the form of numbers. This article deals chiefly with the use in the United States of digital computers in musical composition, especially sound synthesis, but it also covers other areas in which computers have been employed, including theory, musicology, and the notation of music.
The computer was first used by composers as an aid in working out the details of a musical composition. Using this process, the composer determines a number of procedures to be followed in a given order. The computer works through these rules and produces a score in some form, an audio file, or an alternate means of representation....