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System: Common Music

Authors

Description

Common Music (CM) is an object-oriented music composition environment. It produces sound by transforming a high-level representation of musical structure into a variety of control protocols for sound synthesis and display. Common Music defines an extensive library of compositional tools and an API through which the composer can easily modify and extend the system. CM is released under the GNU copyleft software license. See gpl.text for information about the terms and conditions of this agreement. Sources, runtime images and patches are available from the internet: The official project home (http://sourceforge.net/projects/commonmusic) Sourceforge FTP (ftp://commonmusic.sourceforge.net/pub/commonmusic) CCRMA FTP (ftp://ftp-ccrma.stanford.edu/pub/Lisp/cm/) UIUC (http://www-camil.music.uiuc.edu/software/cm/) History Common Music began in 1989 as a response to the proliferation of different audio hardware, software and computers that resulted from the introduction of low cost processors. As choices increased it became clear that composers would be well served by a system that defined a portable, powerful and consistent interface to the myriad sound rendering possibilities. Work on Common Music began in 1989 when the author was a guest composer at CCRMA, Stanford University. Most of the system as it exists today was implemented at the Institut fur Musik und Akustik at the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, Germany, where the author worked for five years. Common Music continues to evolve today at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where the author is now a professor of music composition. In 1996 Common Music received First Prize in the computer-assisted composition category at the 1er Concours International de Logiciels Musicaux in Bourges, France Implementation Common Music is implemented in Common Lisp and CLOS and runs on Macintosh, SGI, and PC. Common Music is known to work in the following configurations. See Lisp Ports for more information.

References

“... but beware, technique can submerge the user: We must defend ourselves; it is good to use techniques, but we have to dominate them, to stay alert.”

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“The computing machine is a marvelous invention and seems almost superhuman. But in reality it is as limited as the mind of the individual who feeds it material. Like the computer, the machines we use for making music can only give back what we put into them.”

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“With the development of electronic and computer music, multidemnsionality of sound representation turned out to be both natural and useful. But music goes beyond multidimensionality -- it is even more complex.”

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“The use of computers is the logical outcome of a historical development. It by no means heralds a new musical epoch; it simply offers a fast, reliable and versatile means of solving problems that already demanded solution. The person who writes the computer programme must bear the development of musical language up to the present in mind, and try to advance a stage further.”

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“The danger is great of letting oneself be trapped by the tools and of becoming stuck in the sands of technology that has come like an intruder into the relatively calm waters of the thought in instrumental music.”

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“... and the hope of an extraordinary aesthetic success based on extraordinary technology is a cruel deceit.”

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“Music is then no longer primarily conceived as a guide for premeditated emotions, but as the density of the possible relationships which first become actuality during production under the influence of chance, and which during performance are presented to the listener as sounds beyond any environmental associatiations, independent of bodily actions required to produce sounds...”

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“Composers are now able, as never before, to satisfy the dictates of that inner ear of the imagination. They are also lucky so far in not being hampered by esthetic codification -- at least not yet! But I am afraid it will not be long before some musical mortician begins embalming electronic music in rules.”

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“... the use of numerical machines no longer stands in need of justification. It is not a mystery. If there is a mystery, it is in the mental structures of music and not in the computers, which are only tools, extensions of the hand and the slide rule.”

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“The characteristics of every sound depend on the way in which the sound was produced. Each art-form exploits its special production methods in order to endow the phenomena with unmistakable characteristics. Artistic economy demands that the means be appropriate to the end, and that the exploitation of the means be an end in itself.”

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“... the individual and the society are deprived of the formidable power of free imagination that musical composition offers them. We are able to tear down this iron curtain, thanks to the technology of computers...”

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