embraces the communicative concerns of popular music and the innovative concerns of the avant-garde. The discussion has three sections: replication, crossover and experimentalism.
To understand the stylistic replication of music using digital technology, its historical basis in acoustic and analogue practice is best first outlined. Instrumental acoustic music evolved dialectically within the physical confines of the technology available at the time. An established instrumental ensemble was the collective result of a good deal of past experimentation in sound production and balancing. Skills of orchestration and instrumentation learnt within this context provided composers with practical solutions to getting music played.
Acoustic music also evolved with a grammar of physically playable performance gestures associated with instruments and ensembles. Playability dictated the basis of structural compositional elements that were considered appropriate within a genre and musical language. Performance based on tonality as a theoretical construct then defined what musicality was and how it was demonstrated.
The process of making large scale acoustic music was mostly linear. For example, art music practice moved through a sequence from conception, orchestration, realisation and production. Each task was considered a distinct skill that added something to the final work. A conductor may add nuances not intended by a composer, for example.
Attempts to replicate the acoustic performance aesthetic began with analogue technology. The significant change rather than in musical language and grammar, was in expediency of production and sound (Kealy 1982). Examples from the film music repertoire serve to illustrate this. Through using multi-tracking and synthesisers, Carlos contributed original pieces and concert music renditions for the film score to A Clockwork Orange in 1971. This practice overcame the limitations of monophonic and mono-timbral synthesisers by building up scores in layers and parts using multi-track techniques pioneered by rock recording artists. Conventional realisation and production aesthetics could then be collapsed: composer, player, orchestrator and conductor roles being undertaken by the same person, not necessarily in a linear fashion (Whalley 1994).
Yet despite the embrace of new technology, this approach was heavily influenced by conventional orchestration techniques. Carlos admits to the use of selective note doubling, hocketing, choral tone, pointillism and tone blending taken from acoustic composers (Carlos CD 1987). Similarly, making physical performance gesture central to music through real-time linear part building continued the acoustic aesthetic. The direct copying of many ‘classical’ works ensured tonal embedding. The ‘composition’ contribution was then largely in providing new instrumental colours through synthesiser patches, an expansion of the orchestrators’ domain.
Carlos in ‘Time Steps’ from A Clockwork Orange (1971) also illustrates the extension of instrumental timbre in this genre. This original piece included synthesiser sounds combined with effects processing and textural writing based in the acoustic tonal performance aesthetic. The innovation was that the composer became an