Music has been there forever. It is as much a part of human life as breathing. Music allows us to forget about everything and live in the moment, creating a world of its own that transcends time and space. It has become an irreplaceable aspect of our lives.
An ever-developing discipline, Computer Science is the study of computers, their hardware, and their software. And in the 21st century, it has come to establish itself as an inseparable part of human lives, just like music. Knowingly or unknowingly, we all have been making use of the two in our everyday lives. So, it can be said that the application of computer science in music has been ongoing ever since.
1. History of Music and Computers
The background of computer-based music is mathematical, similar to how it is with other fields of computer science. The Ancient Greeks were pioneers in this area. They came up with the idea known as the “Harmony of Spheres.”
1.1. History of Computer Science in Music
Based on various reports, there have been general disagreements on the use of computer science in music production. However, researchers have overturned most statements.
The first record received was from Australia in June 1879. From then on, changes kept going on throughout the world. Indeed, due to these developments, a musical tool emerged in 1956 called The Synthesiser.
This era also led to the spread of Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) technology. MIDI allowed for the organization of electronic musical instruments from different makers. Makers took MIDI on a large scale after it was made available as an open-sourced technology, gaining broad support.
1.2. Computer-Based Music Production
Many game systems and computers first started adding music features to make them sound better. In fact, the need for computer-generated music rose because of the increasing popularity of the video game industry. Additionally, towards the end of the decade, developers built better computer science tools to create enhanced music.
The tech fans were the first ones to use these tools. Gradually, artists also started employing them to make music to their taste. By the turn of the new century, computer science tools entered every area of music in diverse forms.
2. What Is Computer Music?
Computer music is quite a hot topic in the computer science industry, and computer scientists in this field are doing a fair amount of research. There are three main subtopics in computer music:
- The first one is composed and played by the computer.
- The second one is human-performed computer-generated music.
- Finally, there is computer-aided music production.
Various companies are focussing on studying music from the realms of computer science and technology, thereby contributing to the growth of music and computer science simultaneously.
Nowadays, computer music is an important field of computer science and is a part of the syllabus in many universities of the world. In fact, the path to study music in computer science may be the right balance of interests for many students.
3. Illustrations of Computer Science in Music Composition
Computer science is now a big thing in the music industry. Although the changes made by computer science in music are difficult to pinpoint due to their close-knit association with each other, some of the most notable inputs can be developments in recording technology, the use of plug-ins, web audio API, and live coding.
3.1. Audio Recording
The differences between the recording standards of today and those of earlier times are clear to everyone. Recording studios previously employed analog methods and instruments like magnetic tapes.
Today’s audio production uses technologies such as digital audio workstations. A digital audio workstation is an all-in-one music software. Additionally, it can do many jobs, such as recording and editing, post-processing audio files, and more.
3.2. Audio Plug-Ins
Audio plug-ins refer to small computer programs. Artists can add these to music software as they help in improving music. There are many software-based virtual instruments available under this category. Plug-ins can offer various ways to produce musical sounds and play music. One can also use it for audio engineering, music analysis, and more.
Plug-ins focus on a single unit in the music software. In order to do so, they have to depend on smart ways. Plug-ins also use special methods from computer science.
3.3. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Making Music
The importance of AI is growing, be it in regard to education, work, or the field of music. AI uses machine learning methods on past data to make music. More powerful AIs are able to copy how humans think and then use that to make music via machine learning.
The history of using different methods to make music goes back a long time. Making music has always been guided by the rules, and computer scientists build models using maths based on such rules. AI can help in music sales, marketing, and usage as well. It helps in making computer software that adds voice control. Music composers can now control and pitch diverse voices in their music.
However, with all its advantages, the use of AI in music can lead to problems as well. It creates a legal grey area for a copyright on the music. This happens because copyrights aren’t given to work that lacks human interaction.
4. The Positive Side
The introduction of computer science in music has helped improve the music-making process. Firstly, recording music has become easy. Additionally, the sampling process has become more detailed. This progress has been made by using more small pieces of equipment.
It has also made it easier to create tracks and edit music. People in the music business can now use the audio-related features of music software.
One of the major impacts has been on the lives of independent artists, as testing recorded music can be done with the help of digital technology. Moreover, selling music has also become easier for them. Some of the tools they use often are streaming services.
5. Future of Computer Science in Music
Major developments have been made in the fields of computers and music. However, researchers and musicians have yet to know them fully. Many opportunities are there in the area of traditional computer science and the new and shiny field of AI.
Traditional computer science fields have developed in many ways. It can help with joint music production. People all over the world can create music with whoever they want. Furthermore, this sector continues to improve with the development of advanced computer software.
Artificial intelligence (AI) builds a new road by introducing new ways of composing music, analyzing data, and so on. These ways will only get better as the AI boom continues. However, there are moral and legal issues that need to be considered and resolved in due time. Regardless of this fact, the future of the music industry appears bright and promising.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) provide bright new ways for the music industry. These fields allow artists to combine live and mediated music. This means that listeners can join the music festivals and concerts from their homes.
VR and AR also open ways to combine music with gaming. Many such games even exist today. For example, some allow the user to play various instruments in VR. Such approaches have a bright future in developed multiplayer games.
Where Music has always been a part of human life, Computer science has slowly gained its foothold and is now a booming field in the world. Although combining the two is not a new idea, the degree to which the union has developed makes a lot of difference. And it will only get better with time – computer science, along with music.