submit an article | search | rss feed | comments feed
register | feedback | about
Fugue for Man & Machine
Posted by: manu_s 9:30pm, Friday, 4 May 2007
Paul Henry Smith, a conductor who studied as a teen under Leonard Bernstein, hopes to pull off an ambitious performance next year: conducting three Beethoven symphonies back-to-back in a live concert. "Doing Beethoven's symphonies is how you prove your mettle," he says.

But Mr. Smith's proof comes with the help of a computerized baton. He will use it to lead an "orchestra" with no musicians -- the product of a computer program designed by a former Vienna Philharmonic cellist and comprised of over a million recorded notes played by top musicians.

Amid all the troubles facing the classical music world in recent years -- from declining attendance to budget cuts -- none has mobilized musicians more than the emergence of computers that can stand in for performers. Musicians have battled with mixed success to keep them out of orchestra pits in theaters, ballets and opera houses. Now, a new alliance of conductors, musicians and engineers is taking a counterintuitive stance: that embracing the science is actually the best hope for keeping the art form vital and relevant. They say recent technological advances mean the music now sounds good enough to be played outside the touring musicals and Cirque du Soleil shows it is typically associated with.

manu_s says: I think this article is free; let me know if it isn't, and I'll post a different link that will work for a week at least. Be sure to do the listening test, and do it before reading the rest of the text in that box (it gives a hint on what to listen for that makes it easier).

Add a comment
(no subject)
Posted by: AJ 12:14am, Sunday, 6 May 2007
I got the listening thing correct.

It seemed that the most obvious thing was that the tones were "thick", without nuance, and also the dynamics were very consistent and heavy-handed. IT was simply a more uniform sound. But I have to say, it sounded pretty impressive.

more spoilers
Posted by: manu_s 11:23am, Sunday, 6 May 2007
I got it right also, but I read what the experts said first, which made it easier. What tipped me off was that the melodies sounded more like notes strung together than a phrase, which makes sense considering that the computer recording is done note by note.
Posted by: stephentyrone 12:12pm, Sunday, 6 May 2007
I don't think that the guy is all that adept at using the software, to be honest. I've heard much more impressive work done in performer, mostly by people who do a lot of commercial and film music. The music itself is always less interesting, but the performance is incredibly impressive.
(no subject)
Posted by: ccho 9:43am, Thursday, 17 May 2007
The Reiner recording threw me off because of all the fake reverb added, but I was able to get it on the second try; the strings sounded pretty amateur and washed out by the reverb. After listening to it again, I also think the winds played with impossibly smooth circular breathing.

Add a Comment
You must be logged in to submit a comment.