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  • System Detail

System: nGen

Authors

Description

Csound and the Music N Languages are widely used; however, while their text-based score input syntax is a powerful tool, especially for home-grown note-list generation programs, these score-files can also be quite cumbersome, especially for techniques such as event-based granular synthesis and traditional note-name and rhythm input. Similar to Aleck Brinkman's SCORE11 and Andre Bartetzki's CMASK, nGen is a portable text-based application. It runs on most platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Irix, UNIX, etc.) and allows for macro- and micro-level generation of event-list data by providing many dynamic functions for dealing with statistical generation (such as interpolation between values over the course of many events, varieties of pseudo-random data generation, p-field extraction and filtering, 1/f data, the use of "sets" of values, etc.) as well as special modes of input (such as note-name/octave-number, reciprocal duration code, etc.). Its memory allocation is dynamic, making it useful for macro-level control over huge score-files. In addition, nGen contains a flexible text-based macro pre-processor identical to that found in recent versions of Csound and also allows for many varieties of data conversion and special output formatting. nGen is command-line based (a GUI by Michael Thompson, exists for Mac versions of OS 8.5 to 9.1) and accepts an ASCII formatted text-file which is expanded into a Csound score-file or a standard MIDI file. It is easy to use and is extremely flexible making it suitable for use by those not experienced with high-level computer programming languages.

References

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

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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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“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 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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“... 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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