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Bach on Computers

Bach's on computers

Steven Langley Guy wrote (May 16, 2000):
I have recently been trying out the demo version of the Sibelius music software. It is quite good but at around $1200 (Australian) it is a little out of my reach at the moment. It does come will quite a lot of sounds (even recorders and viols) and I have had some fun programming in some scores. Alas, one cannot save one's work on the demo version. With Sibelius it is possible to program in quite large scaled works. I tried the overture to Mozart's opera Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail which sounds rather nice with all the percussion and the Cosi fan tutte overture too. Both worked quite well. I then tried the Sonatina from Actus Tragicus BWV 106. It worked reasonably well with the recorder and viol sounds and still managed to sound "deep" even though it was programmed. I next tried two works I have in the Kalmus study scores - BWV 119 (the opening chorus) and BWV 63 (again, the first movement). Both of these works have parts for four trumpets in C and timpani in C and G as well as woodwind and strings. The BWV 119 is particularly beautiful and I don't have a recording of this one (any suggestions?) and BWV 63 is a lovely work too. What amazed me was how good Bach sounded but the Mozart just didn't quite work! Even on my Pentium the four trumpets sound fantastic in both of these cantatas (even though the sound is only an "impression" of the real sounds). I used the "trumpet in C" sound, the "treble recorder" sounds (in BWV 119) and the normal oboe, bassoon and string sounds. I didn't bother to program an organ continuo sound. I also tried Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, using the "trumpet in D" sound for the trumpet (in F) part. Again, it worked very well. Maybe I am brainwashed by Wendy Carlos but Bach does seem to work very well in a synthetic 'virtual' setting. Admittedly the Sonatina from BWV 106 wasn't very successful to my ears (it is one of my favorite Bach pieces) but the four trumpets and timpani sounded magnificent even on a humble PC!

Did Bach write many other works for four trumpets? I am very well aware of the music of his predecessors in Leipzig and I have quite a lot of scores by Knupfer, Schelle, Kuhnau and Schein which have very bold brass parts and works like BWV 119 and BWV 63 certainly continue this tradition. The lowest trumpet usually follows the timpani fairly closely, the third trumpet either joins in with the timpani or provides the lowest part to the two upper "clarino" trumpets, whose parts are the highest and most florid. Formula writing? Yes, but Bach does some wonderful things within this tradition.
[snip]

Frank Fogliati wrote (May 16, 2000):
[To Steven Langley Guy] What sort of speakers are you using? Do you need an amazingly expensive sound card to get a decent result?

I think we had a similar discussion earlier? Wasn't the conclusion that Bach works well on anything, including a trio for kazoo, banjo, and tromba marina? ;-)

What are the minimum specs required?

(Sonatina from BWV 106) Yes, an absolutely sublime piece of music! Truly one of Bach's finest moments.
[snip]

 

Computer or Human Hubris

Thomas Braatz wrote (January 3, 2003):
From the EE Times (12/31/02) in a report by R. Colin Johnson:
>>The Brazilian-born Miranda composes chamber and electroacoustic pieces, compositions that have won prizes in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Today, at Sony, he specializes in artificial intelligence in music. In his latest book, Composing Music with Computers (Focal Press), Miranda summarizes his AI research, which began with cellular automata and evolved into an "adaptive games" strategy based on artificial-life models.
"Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of artificial intelligence today lies in the construction of machines that can compose music of incredibly high quality," he said. But AI's achievement is restricted to mimicking the style of existing composers, either with a set of AI rules, or by learning a composer's style with a neural network. In other words, computers can compose a new Bach cantata, but they will never compose anything novel, because their algorithms merely encapsulate a particular style of music.<<

Which of the many missing cantatas by Bach should we ask to hear first?

Boyd Pehrson wrote (January 4, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] Ha, ha... This recalls the entire scenario of historical performances practiced upon us. As they say, garbage in = garbage out; water never rises above its own level, and man's machine will never be smarter than man himself.

Personally, I want to hear all of the lost Cantatas, which should sound excatly like an ad-mix of all the 200 cantatas we have revived in concert performances for a non-church concert crowd; modern and historic practices competently mixed and mashed for prime listening pleasure, on semi-pro audio equipment.

Matthew Neugebauer wrote (January 4, 2003):
[To Boyd Pehrson] So can computers now reflect the words sung in the esoteric and ingenius way Bach did? As well, are these computers capable of using correct prosody in choral/vocal music?

just one step in proving my theory that Bach was a Vulcan-and its just as absurd as the theory itself!

 

Bach and Steve Jobs

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 10, 2011):
Michael Lawrence, the profucer of Bach & friends film, sent me the message below:

Hi Aryeh: Like so many people around the world, I have been thinking of Steve Jobs since his passing. The outpouring has been almost surreal.

I could not have made BACH & friends without his computers and software.

In 1989, I filmed an interview with Steve for my Library of Congress film and what a special day that was. I remember very fondly every minute of the time I spent with him. I still have the NeXT coffee mug he gave me.

A few years back, I put up a clip from the interview on YouTube and it has been viewed over 400,000 times - 34,000 views just yesterday alone.

I didn't know Steve Jobs loved Bach until Mike Hawley asked me to send Steve and his wife Laurene a copy of BACH & friends. Mike shared that Steve was one of his closest personal friends. I found this quote of Steve talking of Bach:

"I had been listening to a lot of Bach. All of a sudden the wheat field was playing Bach. It was the most wonderful experience of my life up to that point. I felt like the conductor of this symphony with Bach coming through the wheat field." Quote from "Return to the Little Kingdom: How Apple and Steve Jobs Changed the World" by Michael Moritz


I put together all of Steve's clips - Steve Jobs Tribute:
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=mlfilms#p/u/6/6kalMB8jDnY
from Memory and Imagination: New Pathways to the Library of Congress:
http://www.mlfilms.com/productions/m_and_i
as a tribute and would like to share it with you.

Anne (Nessie) Russell wrote (October 10, 2011):
[To Aryeh Oron] Thank you for this Aryeh. I am going to pass it on to a friend who is a Bach lover and a devoted Apple user.

I use a P.C. I am one of the few people left in the world who does not own an IPhone or IPad. I do find it interesting that so many clever people are Bach lovers.

Julian Mincham wrote (October 10, 2011):
Nessie Russell wrote:
< I use a P.C. I am one of the few people left in the world who does not own an IPhone or IPad. I do find it interesting that so many clever people are Bach lovers. >
Snap! Against the constant taunting of my son and wife I have resisted the temptation to get a mobile phone of any kind working on the double premise that

1 if people want to get hold of me they can do so through email or land line

2 they probably only want me to get one so they can call me when I am out to ask me to pick up some things at the supermarket.

Wouldn't work for active musicians and actors though--if the agent calls about a job and they don't answer in half a dozen rings they move on to the next name on their list.

But as for me I am remaining distinctly insular and Luddite!

Incidentally I found in my career that many stunning jazz musicians are Bach lovers too.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 10, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Snap! Against the constant taunting of my son and wife I have resisted the temptation to get a mobile phone of any kind working on the double premise that
1 if people want to get hold of me they can do so through email or land line
2 they probably only want me to get one so they can call me when I am out to ask me to pick up some things at the supermarket. >
I used to feel that way until I had a car emergency; a friend's cell phone proved absolutely invaluable.

A former cell phone Luddite,

David Hitchin wrote (October 10, 2011):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< Snap! Against the constant taunting of my son and wife I have resisted the temptation to get a mobile phone of any kind .... >
I have one. I have taken the ring tone (without paying performing rights fees) from John Cage's 4' 33".

So, I can make emergency calls out, but no one has yet succeeded in attracting my attention, other than through text when I get round to reading it.

David McKay wrote (October 11, 2011):
[To Kim Patrick Clow] Kim, a car emergency also sold me on mobile phones.

Then I discovered how many places you can't use one!

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (October 11, 2011):
[To David McKay] Even in remote areas, cell phone pings are picked up by the towers, even if you can't make a call.

 

Bach and Steve Jobs - 2

Aryeh Oron wrote (October 31, 2011):
Michael Lawrence sent me the message below:

Aryeh: I have been reading the new bio on Steve Jobs and found this reference to Bach. Thought you might be interested.

Steve Jobs on Bach from "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, page 413
As for classical music, there were a few recordings of Bach, including the Brandenburg Concertos, and three albums by Yo-Yo Ma. One afternoon we sat in his living room as he scrolled through the songs on his new iPad. Bach, he declared, was his favorite classical composer. He was particularly fond of listening to the contrast between the two versions of the "Goldberg Variations" that Glenn Gould recorded, the first in 1955 as a twenty-two-year-old little-known pianist and the second in 1981, a year before he died. "They're like night and day," Jobs said after playing them sequentially one afternoon. "The first is an exuberant, young, brilliant piece, played so fast it's a revelation. The later one is so much more spare and stark. You sense a very deep soul who's been through a lot in life. It's deeper and wiser." Jobs was on his third medical leave that afternoon when he played both versions, and I asked which he liked better, "Gould liked the later version much better." He said. "I like the earlier, exuberant one. But now I can see where he was coming from."

Mike's Steve Jobs Tribute: http://www.mlfilms.com/productions/m_and_i

 

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Last update: żNovember 26, 2011 ż14:15:09