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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition
Composition as a Game
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Kookoo



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:16 pm    Post subject: Composition as a Game Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I decided to branch this off of a previous topic because what I'm interested in discussing is not really in the domain of that thread. I'm curious what you all think of the suggestion that creating music is a game, and that the tools people use to create music are actually toys. Composing and performing music are two different games, and people tend to vary in their ability to play either game.

So, first, some definitions. Most are not from the dictionary, but rather my own definitions for use in this discussion:

Entertainment (n): Something that amuses, pleases, or diverts.

Game (n): An interactive creative expression, engaging one or more people for the purpose of entertainment.

Play (v): To take part in a game.

Toy (n): A plaything that suggests no specific goal or outcome.

In this context, does the phrase "I play music" retain the same meaning for you? If not, is it an agreeable meaning? Is the phrase "Composition is a game and instruments are toys" agreeable in this context?

As technology moves us forward into new territory, I think there's merit in exploring the idea that we can use complex technology to create an intuitive - not literal - mapping from creative game playing to musical composition. I think it's possible to create an instrument (toy) that has only one binary input (a toggle switch) but can be used (via technology) to compose music. It would probably be, and *should* be, simple music. The complexity of input should relate to the complexity of the output or most people will have a hard time getting a grip on it mentally. However, the exact sounds that result from playing this simple instrument are variable and determined completely by software. The most simple implementation is to have a fixed tone sound when the switch is on, and silence when the switch is off. But the software could just as easily calculate and interpret the delay between switch toggles as the tempo of a piece of prerecorded music. If we introduce a few rules (of the game), the behavior can become more complex - the first four toggles sets the tempo, and each subsequent toggle will cause a quarter note of our fixed tone to be sequenced at that position in a repeating 4-bar measure. Then we could say that the pitch is no longer fixed - each odd switch event after tempo is set creates the sequence position, and the time between each even switch in miliseconds versus the nearest eighth note could be used to determine the pitch. Since most people don't have milisecond timing, the effect is that a person plays a game of trying to hit the switch at the right time to produce the right pitch - and sometimes just hits the switch for fun and produces surprising and possibly entertaining sounds. Thus, the game.

Given expressive interfaces and complex software, is it possible to evolve this muddy idea into a new instrument that is effectively played (as a game) in order to compose complex music for entire ensembles? I suspect some kind of AI would have to be involved that can be taught how to make music that you like. That doesn't bother me, though, since a little AI can go a long way when it's new. Cell phones make guesses about what word you're trying to spell, video game cameras try positions themselves in the world to avoid things blocking the view... expert systems may not be a long-term solution, but they're certainly a viable one.

/ramble
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Kookoo



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BTW, if I extend this idea to absurdity, I can imagine a world where recorded music is obsolete. Everyone creates their own music and hears exactly what they want whenever they want. The current trend of laptop bedroom studios kind of vaguely points in that direction, and I've entertained the thought of creating a multiplayer PC game wherein people compete and/or cooperate in a game that has a musical byproduct. Sort of like Guitar Hero on crack from The Future (tm).

Anyway, imagine if Technology were able to read your mind. It might first present music that complements (or combats) your mood, and then might go on to pay attention to your reactions and alter the output (which I'd call a game). It just so happens that we don't have that technology - but we may have sufficient technology to bridge the gap and provide people a way to give hints to the software since it can't read minds (yet).

Also, I'm aware that there are some people out there exploring some things similar to this, via pseudo-genetic selection of generative sequences.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I would certainly enjoy playing such a game Smile

I think I am a bit confused about the meaning of the word "game". In my language game translates into two different words ("spel" or "lek"), depending on whether you score points and someone wins or not. You define game as a creative process, which implies that you don't determine a winner at the end, but could it work as a competitive process as well?

/Stefan

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bachus



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Composition as a Game Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kookoo wrote:
I'm curious what you all think of the suggestion that creating music is a game, and that the tools people use to create music are actually toys. Composing and performing music are two different games, and people tend to vary in their ability to play either game.


Creating music can be experienced in wide variety of ways. I wouldn't want to invest much of myself in music as a game but there is nothing inherently wrong with it. I think you are correct that technology is at the point where it would be possible to create a "music creation game" that would have compelling interest to a good many people.

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chuck



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think a culture that had a 'home studio' in every home with people making their own music would be a wonderful environment for the professional composer. It would bring forth a more knowledgable public who would have a greater understanding of music. Technology is the backbone of that vison.

I really doubt professional sports would be given any real interest if those same sports weren't experienced by amatures... or school leagues.

But that comment may be a tad off topic from the OP. I compose music for money, some kind of artistic point of view, and for enjoyment. Playing jazz, I think, is by the terms of the OP a game inthat there are rules or some kind and there is interaction of the players. Certainly I find myself entertained by playing jazz, and I hope anyone who is listening is entertained also. Perhaps it is my prejudice as a musician, but creating, playing or performing music is alway more entertaining personally than listening to others do the same. It is a feeling that I would wish for everyone.

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mosc
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think this is a very good topic. Music and music making have a lot in common with games. Games are associated with ritual and rules, as are music and religion. Attending a music concert is much like like a ritual. I have attended a lot of Grateful Dead concerts that were more like religious rituals than most religious rituals. In games, the players and the observers have set roles - the same at musical performances.

Stuff like composition contests, piano competitions, talent shows, star search, etc are really games. In some ways, all performances are entries in some sort of competition - either explicit or implicit.

This is not a comdemnation - games are essential to human society. We are always playing games. Even contributing to this community is a game. The problem comes when we fool ourselves into thinking it is not a game.

In the 60s, a very popular book was called, The Games People Play.

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bachus



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

game

The Games People Play

A better book IMHO
I'm OK You're OK

Much much better IMHO: most any book by Fritz Perls or Abraham Maslow

That'll be 2 cents please Laughing

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seraph
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bachus wrote:

Abraham Maslow

by Maslow I read "Toward a psychology of being" and "Motivation and Personality". I also read "Games people play" and "I'm OK, you are OK".
If I had to choose one, I would choose the first one.
That'll be 2 cents please Laughing

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Politics is the entertainment division of the military industrial complex - Frank Zappa
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bachus



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:

by Maslow I read "Toward a psychology of being" and "Motivation and Personality". I also read "Games people play" and "I'm OK, you are OK".
If I had to choose one, I would choose the first one.
That'll be 2 cents please Laughing


I agree. And boy, our reading lists must look a lot alike. Either that or you've read every book there is Shocked

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

To get back on topic Embarassed phoenix thread on Robot tech in Future Instruments raises a lot of interesting possibilities for the user interface of a music creation game.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bachus wrote:
To get back on topic Embarassed phoenix thread on Robot tech in Future Instruments raises a lot of interesting possibilities for the user interface of a music creation game.


A bit retro-looking, but still:
http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-13614.html

Be a BORG!

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seraph
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bachus wrote:
...or you've read every book there is Shocked

far from it Very Happy

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kruhft



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The idea of thinking that anything that is challenging is a game is a very powerful idea. Games are fun, enjoyable, and rewarding, which is why we play them, but once you think about an activity gamewise something shifts and it's almost like you can see the code that created it... ;-D Once you can see that, then you can really strategize and take things seriously, and get that reward for playing.

Mathematicians have been thinking of proofs as games for a while now; the only opponent they have working against them is the thing that keeps ideas from forming, and the reward is a completed and working proof.

People work harder on games more than actual work as well, since games are generally more fun. I stopped playing actual games a while back when I got burned out developing them for a living; it wasn't until I started realizing that anything can be a game (including life itself) did I manage to figure out a reason to 'keep playing'.

But music as a game is really rewarding, since you start with pretty much nothing and come out with something that causes enjoyment, accomplishment, and...well...some girls like it a lot Very Happy Best reward for playing a game that i've found, plus it actually creates real world value (kinda like Second Life and WoW, but more real, I would hope, although most of the people that have and heard and listened to my music live on the other side of this screen too.....eek!).

But yes, interesting topic. Nice to find a place to talk about something like this...the locals here just think I'm nuts Wink

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

kruhft wrote:
girls like it a lot Very Happy

That is why Frank Zappa said he got involved in music.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

kruhft wrote:
... Games are fun, enjoyable, and rewarding, ...


I guess it will surprise you that some people neither think nor feel that attitude about games--that the conceptual nexus tied to that word evokes indifference at best. This is not meant to be critical, only to point our that much that we take as axiomatic in human existence is in fact subjective view point.

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