Dissertation Index

Author: Igoudin, Lane

Title: Impact of MIDI on Electroacoustic Art Music

Institution: Stanford University

Begun: January 1995

Completed: June 1997


The revolution in the tools for music composition in the mid-1980's caused a major change in electroacoustic music composition itself. MIDI-based music technology provided an entirely new and comprehensive array of composition tools. The flood of MIDI-based hardware and software appearing within two years after the introduction of the standard transformed the concepts of the contemporary electronic music studio, the digital instrument, and the role the computer plays in musical composition.

The study is based on the results of the survey conducted by the author in 1996. Forty-five composers from 13 countries in America (including both coasts of the U.S. ), Asia, Australia and Europe, active in the electroacoustic art music before and after introduction of MIDI were interviewed in the course of the study. The collected interviews were sociologically analyzed. The composers personal experiences were dissected along the lines of the similar properties to be reconstituted in this study as an objective collective experience. The methods used for conducting the study make it very likely to encounter the same trends existing in the entire possible population.

The dissertation highlights the reception, adaptation, and application of MIDI tools covering a multitude of topics and subtopics related to electroacoustic music composition and performance. It also reconstructs the historical, technological and aesthetic context in which MIDI appeared. Inherent features of the MIDI protocol and design of MIDI devices have had numerous implications for compositional practice. Composers assessment of design of the MIDI protocol as well as design of MIDI-based generation of equipment are given specific focus.

The text combines statistical data on a particular topic with extensive excerpts from the interviews. Preservation of art music composers lore: experiences, ideas, practices turned to be one of the most important results of this project.

Keywords: Contemporary, electroacoustic, computer, 20th century, technology, MIDI, style, social, sociological, composition


Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Design of the Study
2.1 Guarding Objectivity
2.2 Available Sources
2.3 Data Collection
2.3.1 Intention of the Study
2.3.2 The Study Design
2.3.3 The Survey Design
2.3.4 Selection of the Survey Sample
2.3.5 The Questionnaire
2.3.6 The Interview Process
2.3.7 Database Design and Data Classification
2.3.8 Data Privacy Issues

Chapter 3 Historical, Technological, and Aesthetic Context of MIDI
3.1 Aesthetic Discourse Relevant to This Study
3.1.1 Introductory Comments
3.1.2 Composer / Performer / Audience Interaction
3.1.3 Tool / Composer Interaction in Music-Making Process
3.1.4 Differences and Similarities Between Electroacoustic and Acoustic
Genres of Art Music
3.2 Evolution of the Technology
3.2.1 Mainframe Computers and Analog Synthesizers Analog Synthesizers Computers
3.2.2 All-Digital Music Systems in 1970s-early 1980s
3.2.3 Microcomputers
3.2.4 Pre-MIDI State of Technology
3.3 Demands of Electroacoustic Art Music
3.4 Historical and Technological Context of Development of MIDI
3.4.1 Development and Introduction of MIDI
3.4.2 MIDI Equipment in the Mid-Late 1980s Marketing of MIDI Yamaha DX Series of Synthesizers Spread of MIDI Equipment A New Paradigm of the Musical Instrument MIDI Protocol Extensions

Chapter 4 Reception of MIDI in Art Music
4.1 Incompatibility of Pre-MIDI Composition Tools
4.2 Anticipation of MIDI
4.3 Introduction to MIDI
4.4 Reception of MIDI
4.5 Evolution of the Evaluation of MIDI
4.5.1 Positive Evaluation
4.5.2 Change of Valence of Evaluation
4.5.3 Steady Negative Response
4.6 Learning and Incorporating MIDI
4.7 Use of MIDI in Composition
4.8 Transfer of Pre-MIDI Compositional Methodology into MIDI Environments
4.8.1 Successful Transfer
4.8.2 Unsuccessful Transfer

Chapter 5 Assessment of MIDI Technology from the Perspective of Composition
5.1 MIDI Specification: Implications for Compositional Practice
5.1.1 Advantages
5.1.2 Limitations
5.2 Design of MIDI Devices: Implications for Compositional Practice
5.2.1 The Positive Aspects of Design of MIDI Instruments
5.2.2 The Negative Aspects of Design of MIDI Instruments
5.3 Social Benefits of MIDI Equipment
5.3.1 Affordability
5.3.2 Democratization
5.3.3 Concert Organization
5.3.4 Personal Computer Music Studio
5.3.5 Negative Social Effects

Chapter 6 The Impact of MIDI on the Style and Methodology of
Electroacoustic Art Music Composition
6.1 Changes in Musical Style
6.1.1 Composition
6.1.2 The Role of Interaction in the Musical Process
6.1.3 Sound Generation and Sound Control
6.1.4 Timbre
6.1.5 Rhythm
6.1.6 Form
6.1.7 Lack of Change
6.2 Timbre and MIDI
6.2.1 Development of Computer-Based Timbres before and with MIDI
6.2.2 MIDI-Controllable Timbres Use of MIDI Presets Synthesis Implementation New Concept of the Synthesizer Ready-Made Sound Libraries Timbral Quality of Digital Sounds Cited Shortcomings of Presets Positive Response to the Quality of Preset Sounds
6.2.3 Simulated Timbres in MIDI Presets
6.2.4 Role of Software Synthesis after Introduction of MIDI
6.3 Live Interactive Electroacoustic Music and MIDI Tools
6.4 Role of Improvisation
6.5 MIDI Notation Facilities
6.6 Change of Compositional Interest

Chapter 7 Conclusions

Appendix A. List of Composers Interviewed in the Study
Appendix B. The Statistics File
Appendix C. Presentations of MIDI-Related Products in the Computer
Music Journal
Appendix D. Testimonies from Two Composers, Independent in Early
MIDI Years
Appendix E. Naumann and Wagoner's Sixteen Compositional Projects
Appendix F. Eight Cases of the Change of Compositional Interest



Lane Igoudin
P.O.Box 410972
San Francisco, CA 94141-0972
(415) 331-9595 x 333

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