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date: 04 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article presents a historical view of computer music technology. It starts by discussing important terminology in this field. Kassler and Howe (1980) briefly characterized computer music technologies as replacements for conventional human musical activities, an approach akin to the more general writings of the media theorist Marshall McLuhan (1964). This article charts a course influenced by both these sources. Although it treats musical technologies prior to the computer, it forms an essential backdrop to the ensuing discussion. Furthermore, it examines the development of the computer as a musical instrument, broadly speaking, and then the means by which human musicians have operated this “instrument.” Next, it considers the computer as a musician itself, whether composer or performer. Finally, it concludes with a synopsis of some trends in computer music technology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Keywords: computer music technology, terminology, instrument, composer, performer

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