Columbia University Electronic Music Department Presentation

This lecture was a consultation/ presentation between the DigiScore team and 6 grad students from the Music Department at Columbia University, kindly organised by Seth Cluet

The discussion involved several grad students with ranging interestes from musicology of ancient score to computer music performance. As with many grad course, they were involved in teaching UG’s in their field. Their contributed to the discussion was from their own perspectives and representing their impression of the UG cohorts they teach.

There were two main discussion point, that is also mirrored in the other presentations so far:

1) the traditional music studies divide of performer and composer is no longer representational of the type of activities that these musicians engage with

2) that coding skills (algorithmic thinking, computational creativity, data representation and management, and modern language) is a vital and important attribute in the workplace, and that music studies should engage with it, as it is a perfect platform with which to explore and learn these skills.

Several other key insights were also introduced:

  • the digital score, due to its interactivity and open relationships between musicians, is helping move the power balance away from “the composer” (who dictates) and “the performer” (who obeys). This is very helpful in supporting current concerns of inclusivity and social equality.
  • the term digital musician should embrace all musicians who creatively use digital technology in music-making (which thankfully the DigiScore project also supports)
  • the digital score format seems like a versatile mixed-media way of representing a musicological study of a historic (or modern) score. This might even be a format for performance playback that expands the cultural, historical or personal interest points of a particular score.
  • several sources of inspiration were recalled that could enhance the digiscore project:
    • “Music - Drastic or Gnostic” by Carolyn Abbate
    • Ichiro Fujinaga’s researchj into symbolic representations of notation and scores
    • Mariusz Kozak’s research on enacting time in embodied musicking expereince.
    • Aumi by Pauline Oliveros

Following the discussion Seth kindly showed us around the electronic music studios at Columbia. We were particuarly impressed by the 80:5 rule in each of the studios and teaching spaces. That is that 80% of the functionality should be achievable in the first 5 minutes of walking into one of the creative spaces. There were many other principles such as this that are remarkable and ultimatly supportve of inclusive studio creativity. Others that springs to mind is that every component was mapped to a specific location in the studio; all recordable channels are permanently tied into the main recording PC; plug and copy USB drives to walk away with work after sessions; buying and installing equipment that has very few hidden features so that the operational functions of, say, routing, aux sends, matrixing is clearly operational by knobs and switches.