- About This Issue
In this issue's first article, Brigitte Robindoré interviews composer and educator Curtis Roads. Mr. Roads will be known to many readers as a researcher on granular synthesis and other "microsound" techniques, as the author of a number of significant texts on computer music, and as a former editor of this journal. His music won the Award of Distinction at the 2002 Ars Electronica festival, reflecting the popularity of microsonic perspectives beyond the confines of academia. Mr. Roads discusses his sources of inspiration (notably, phenomena from the discipline of physics), the relation of his musical thinking to that of pioneers like Edgard Varèse, his ideas on spatialization, and his approach to composing on multiple time scales.
Whereas many composers have used electronics to emulate the sounds of acoustic instruments, some have taken the reverse tack. David Bessell's article describes his use of a prepared acoustic guitar to approximate some staple techniques of electronic music, namely, frequency modulation, ring modulation, and single-side-band modulation (also known as frequency shifting). A composition demonstrating his method will appear on the disc action companying Computer Music Journal 29(4).
This issue's front cover announces the topic of rhythm detection. Often a feature article related to the Journal's front-cover topic presents new research, perhaps a new algorithm for music synthesis or analysis. Sometimes, however, a survey of prior research represents a worthy contribution to the field by itself, especially when the survey offers a conceptual framework that unifies diverse ways of approaching a problem. Such is the case with the article by Fabien Gouyon and Simon Dixon on extracting rhythmic information (including meter, tempo, and timing) from audio or MIDI data.
The article by Bill Manaris et al. examines some manifestations of Zipf's Law in music. This law describes the frequency of occurrence of events within a phenomenon. Zipf's Law can be considered a power law that in its simplest form refers to 1/f noise, also known as pink noise. Using Zipf's Law, the authors analyzed the distributions of various musical attributes, including pitch, duration, melodic intervals, and harmonic consonance, in a corpus of MIDI-encoded compositions. Neural networks then employed the results of these analyses to perform classification tasks such as author attribution, style identification, and "pleasantness" prediction.
Finally, Goffredo Haus and Maurizio Longari present their Extensible Markup Language (XML) syntax for encoding music. Their XML format, known as MX, includes a "spine" structure for temporally aligning multiple representations. This feature makes possible applications such as the dynamic display of a musical score in synchronization with a simultaneously sounding audio recording.
A review of the International Conference on Auditory Display in Sydney focuses on an unusual concert whose ten compositions were all multichannel sonifications of the same set of data. The data had been collected from an individual outfitted with an electroencephalogram-style cap and other body sensors. The other reviews in this issue examine a book in German on the history, technology, and aesthetics of sound art; several audio CDs; two interactive CD-ROMs from Schott; and software from Cycling '74. One of the CD reviews turns out to be a debate about David Cope's automatic composition software, with a response from Mr. Cope. Further comments from readers are welcome, as always. [End Page 1]