Class 01- Don’t Thank the Shovel for the Hole

In today’s class (first class of the term) we discussed the objectives and scope of the MUCO541 course, including the course-outline, gradings, student-accounts, logistics, and the structure of a class.

We started the lecture by brainstorming our ideas about live electronics, and how this relates to computer music and algorithmic music.

We read a text of Julieanne Klein about “Trends in computer-based live electronics” (you can find a link at the bottom of this page).

We then talked about the two historic branches of computer music, which Miller Puckette referred to as CGM (Computer-generated Music) and CAC (Computer-aided Composition). And we looked at two historic examples:

1) L.A. Hiller’s / L.M. Isaacson’s Illiac Suite (String Quartet No. 4) – which is considered the first musical composition for traditional instruments that was made with the help of a computer (1957/58):

2) The song “Daisy Bell”, sung by an IBM 7094 computer at Bell labs. The song/accompaniment was programmed by J. Kelly, C. Lockbaum, and Max Mathews in 1961.


We started our first steps in programming with Max. We discussed some of the basic concepts, such as data-flow (the ball-path principle), the patcher-window, the Max-window, and the different types of objects you can create in a patcher: Max-Object, Message-box, Comment and GUI-element (GUI=Graphical User Interface). We started designing our first patches and learned about the basic data types of Max.

You can find the patches (Class-01) in the downloads section. Please study them on your own. You can also have a look at the Max 4.6 Tutorials 1-11 which deal with the same concepts (also available in the downloads section).

Here is a picture of the notes we took on the whiteboard.


Below I’ve posted the two articles we talked about in class.

M. Puckette, “Preface” to the OM-Composer’s Book

J. Klein, “Trends in Computer-based Live-Electronics”