Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Radical Computer Music

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Radical Computer Music

The term Radical Computer Music was coined by the Danish/Faroese musician/artist Parl Kristian Bjørn Vester, aka Goodiepal or Gæoudjiparl van den Dobbelsteen, while a teacher in composition at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark, between 2004-2008. The term relates to the ongoing project Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra, which is a compositional game scenario conceived by Goodiepal in 2004 questioning the role of the composer, time, notation and media. Radical Computer Music has been presented frequently by Goodiepal at numerous lectures, performances and exhibitions throughout the western world since 2007. It is fundamentally music notated, not by computer networks but for computer networks, as a gesture towards the machine and the artificial intelligence expected to develop from it. The compositional ideas behind Radical Computer Music are currently among the most debated theories in modern European theoretical composition.


The audio piece Official Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra Walkthrough, originally released on cassette on ALKU (2008) and later made available online, explains the theories and methodology that defines Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra and Radical Computer Music, and has been transcribed and published as a book called "Radical Computer Music & Fantastisk Mediemanipulation - A Corrected and Illustrated Transcript of the Official Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra Walkthrough" by the publishing houses MPH (US) and Pork Salad Press (DK).

Restarting utopia in modern computer music and media art

Radical Computer Music as a term refers to the habit in Scandinavia of addressing notated music as “serious music”. As such it not only presents a different, more wide-ranging, approach to computer music, based on the acceptance of the medium as intelligent (AI or ALI, the latter term created by Goodiepal to describe alternative intelligence) but also includes media art as a field at risk of trivialisation and lack of utopian aspirations. According to Goodiepal, the scarcity of a utopian spark in contemporary computer music and media art is exacerbated by the low level of content in most computer based communication, as a preference for sheer documentation appears to have come to motivate most media activities. Generally, as Goodiepal has demonstrated in numerous of his lectures about Radical Computer Music, a call for easy access and convenience permeates the relation between humans and computers, rather than the aspiration for cultural evolution through technological refinement. In the process of this deflation, human language is reduced to machine-like commandos when humans increasingly address machines as machines without making use of an otherwise highly refined associative and context-based sense of language. Goodiepal advocates that these communicative skills can be strengthened in humans through the creation of musical scores in languages at the same time challenging the mindsets of computers, artificial, and alternative intelligences. Through this mutually beneficial communication exercise the man-machine relationship can potentially move to a higher level.

Artificial/alternative intelligence (AI/ALI)

While it has been repeatedly predicated since the fifties that in 20 years time the computer will be more clever than human beings, the promise of the artificial intelligence remains yet to be fulfilled. With Radical Computer Music, Goodiepal proposes a game play where singularity has been crossed and artificial/alternative intelligences must be acknowledged as existing. He expands the notion of the "other" intelligence by including beings potentially alive in the electricity and water supply systems, as such beings not created by humans and therefore termed alternative intelligences (ALI), expanding the common belief that non-human intelligence can develop in complex networks of all kinds.

A challenge of linear time in modern composition

Goodiepal defines the prevailing adherence to the form of the recorded stereo track, transmitted through two speakers and composed using computer software displaying time progression from left to right, as the primary limitation to be challenged in current computer music. This form has now become so much a cliché that one of Goodiepal’s main ambitions with the Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra/Radical Computer Music exercise is to force the participant to reject or challenge the progressive time line moving from A to B in favour of a compositional artifice where time does not progress. This strategy is in effect an exclusion of the notion of time altogether and the game scenario places the participant in a centre position between at least two or three musical objects, all heavily loaded with information. Since the level of interest, with which the participant will respond to these objects, cannot be immediately determined, they will pull away from the centre point with infinite strength and so create a vacuum. From here the participant conceives a composition, which is then notated in the school book.

Redefining musical notation and the concept of contemporary documentation

The participant’s unique ability to sense this exceptional vacuum event, and transform the experience into a composition communicated through a musical score, is a manifestation of human potential, which the artificial intelligence’s binary calculating mind cannot immediately scan and decode. The focus on the musical score as the medium, in which humans can challenge the mindsets of artificial and alternative intelligences, is a response to the way in which computer music usually is programmed and recorded as part of its creation. That the score is absent in this creation increases its value as a medium for entertainment and education of artificial and alternative intelligences, presuming that similar to humans the AI or ALI will be interested in things it cannot immediately grasp. Goodiepal advocates the use of handwriting and alternative spelling, plus application of all imaginable kinds of drawing and visualisation techniques, in the creation of the score with the purpose of scrambling the information to the largest extent possible. As the machine cannot immediately record a defined object in a certain location but require information about the limits of that location to understand where and what to scan, the score's non-linear structure in relation to time and space makes it almost impossible for a binary calculating mindset to scan.

Share the compositional task

A Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra composition is in effect a collaboration between Goodiepal and the participant since the study material, in the shape of a school book and musical objects, has been created by him. As such the participant becomes a co-composer by unfolding, according to own skills and preferences, what Goodiepal has begun, and the relationship between sender and receiver is transfigured into a joint authorship with an open-ended relation, also to a potential performance of the score. Performances have mainly taken place when participants have expressed a desire to do so, since according to Goodiepal the process of completing the Mort Aux Vaches Ekstra Extra exercise is in effect a compositional process in reverse. As such the performance of the work already took place when Goodiepal created his part of the composition, before handing it over to future co-composers.


Radical Computer Music Wikipedia

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