Computer generated music has always been a subject that fascinated me. Practically since the beginning of electronics, people have been generating electronic music. In the early days, people experimented with big banks of oscillators, generating songs through laborious and complex processes using analog circuits. The there min, the digital analog synthesizer, and many other interesting instruments came out of this experimentation.
What early electronics did for electronic music, however, simply won’t compare to what the digital revolution did. Nowadays, computer generated music is incredibly sophisticated. People can write, arrange, and play whole scores without so much as touching a piano keyboard. There are fewer and fewer music composers who don’t use computers. Almost everyone in the industry uses fancy digital synthesizers, computer sound editing software, and sophisticated signal processing to get just the sound they want.
Of course, the best way to hear computer generated music has always been through a computer. Nowadays, there are literally tens of thousands of electronic musicians who are hooked up to online distribution sites of one type or another. There are sites like Pandora that let you hear music similar to the stuff you already know you like for free. There are online Internet radio stations which will play you hours and hours of interesting broadcasts at little or no cost. And of course, there are FTP servers, websites, USENET downloads, and many other ways to hear computer generated music, as well as other sounds.
Nowadays, in fact, the technology has gotten so good that it is sometimes hard to know whether you are listening to a computer generated song or a real one. There are certain instrument effects that are hard to get right in computer generated music, of course. For example, you can’t really synthesize an authentic sounding harmonica. What you can do, however, is sample, mix, remix, and resample until you get just the sound you want. Just by using audio samples which are currently available, you can make pretty much any computer generated music you want. Sometimes it is more difficult and involved than using a real musician, but the option is always there.
Sometimes I find all this computer generated music a little bit dizzying. I hear so many good songs online on any given day that sometimes it is hard to keep track of them. I have taken to keeping a list of the best one so that I can come back and listen to them more later. So far, I have more than a hundred songs on it, and the list is growing by the day. I try to go back to the songs as often as possible, and I have even bought a few albums from some of these groups.