Should Laptop Computers Be Considered As Musical Instruments


This research paper tries to find out whether laptop computers should be considered as the musical instrument I the view of the fact that they have been used time and again in the production and recording of music. Laptops have also been seen as a constant entertainment tool at homes, offices, and joints. The research aims to identify how the laptop computers have been used in the past and their significance and connection to music.

The main argument is based on the digital production of music and its evolution and whether it is ethical, cost efficient and most of all entertaining.

The research critically analyses primary and secondary literature of digital production of music to identify whether the use of laptop computers can replace old methods.

The hypothesis is: laptop computers should be considered as musical instruments.

Should Laptop Computers Be Considered As Musical Instruments? Reviews of Used Articles

Godlovitch, Stan. 1998. Musical Performance: A Philosophical Study.London: New York: Routledge

This book focuses on music as a performing art and the integration of the musical concept to the personal computer to suit a multimedia aspect. It gives the skills and guilds in music and helps the reader understand what music is all about. The major part on the aspects of performance makes the reader appreciate the importance of music. The chapter of computer ready made introduces the aspects of how music and the personal computer are integrated.

The concepts of remote control in music and arts is well expressed where the author argues that computers are an indirect art-making process in the view of the fact that the computer processes the produce results based on the user instructions. He relates computers to a complex player or instrument and adds that the music played through the personal computer is an immediate transfers from a playback system, for example, a compact disk.

The book also expounds on music played from a computer and helps the topic to cover the concepts. The author also brings out the strengths in this book in the perspective of ready-making in computers and gives the themes that are affected in the process which are; the use of non-traditional display objects, the causal independence of the display, surprises, lack of an evaluative scale, and indifference in view of the skills and performing background of the artists.

Holmes, Thom. 2008. Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture. Ed.3, New York: Routledge

In the book “Electronic and experimental music: technology, music, and culture” Holmes begins with a historical perspective of music and its electronic form where he highlights the predecessors and pioneers from 1847 to 1960. He gives a clear evolution of electronic music and its use in Europe, United States, and Japan. The earlier form of analog synthesis and use of tapes and the fundamentals concepts used in electronic music are explained. Such synthesizer included monophonic which outputs only one voltage each period, and polyphonic which can play more than one note in given moment. The principles of analog synthesizers and voltage control are clearly outlined. This helps the topic have a historical perspective.

Digital synthesis where computer music have been defined and the revolutions such as the microprocessor revolution explained. The principles of personal computer music are outlined and the evolution of computer musical instruments and software explicitly covered. The book also deals with classical and experimental music, electronic and ambient music which is live, rock space age pop and turntables. The role of computers in music which was started during the mainframe large computers still applies even today though they are more advanced in software and design. The integration of mainframe computer music to use of PC music i.e. integrated circuits and microprocessors is defined. The weakness of the book is basing its argument more on electronic terms which makes it technical.

Savage, Terry and Vogel, Karla. (2008). An Introduction to Digital Multimedia. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning

An Introduction to Digital Multimedia explains the concepts of digital multimedia which forms new means of literacy and important means of creative expression that is closer to everyone. This book enables the reader to understand concepts needed in multimedia and how well to create them. it gives best ideas so as to be more efficient, effective, and creative when using the personal computer. The basic tools and concepts in digital multimedia that lies in the use of digital information as well as the personal computer its software and hardware are described.

It acts as the first comprehensive course taken in computing. Topics such as computer software, text, graphics, sound, video, animation, authoring, multimedia development, and professionalism issues in multimedia are discussed. This book brings out a clear perspective of the topic since it is a basic guide to laptops being used as personal computers. Its only weakness is the uses of technical terms which may make the reader not grasp all the ideas of concepts easily. In the professional issues the copyright is covered which will make the topic deal with issues of law and how does the laptop as a musical instrument affect these rights.

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Blackwell, Alan and Collins, Nick “The Programming Language as a Musical Instrument” Computer Laboratory and Music Faculty, University of Cambridge: In P. Romero, J. Good, E. Acosta Chaparro & S. Bryant (Eds), 17th. Workshop of the Psychology of Programming Interest Group, PPIG. 17, p.120-130

This paper exploits ways to achieve an advanced and creative programming language design. The analyses used are those of a single application domain and live coding in respect to musical performance that has been named laptop music. This live coding process gives options to evade the major assumptions that are present in the commercial office settings where most studies on end-user programming has been done. The use of electronic music technology which has brought about engineering components in the production of music is explained and the recording, post-production of music, and performance linked to the configuration of electronic equipment.

The topic of laptop music and live programming history is well covered where it is explained as a contemporary performance mode of electronic music where one can easily transport it. the challenges in the programming of the music are clearly discussed and the coding process slightly covered. Clear diagrams of the live software interface have been included in this report making it easy to comprehend and understand. This book will contribute a lot to this topic in that it gives the fundamental description of what is included in laptop music and its use as a musical instrument.

Pham, Tran., Ong, Bee., Mikroyannidis, Alexander and Giaretta, D. 2008. Preservation of Interactive Multimedia Performances, Int. J. Metadata, Semantics and Ontologies, 3, No. 3: 183 – 196.

This research paper is based on the rising importance of the preservation of Interactive Multimedia Performances in the field of performing arts. It gives the importance of preserving this technology and all the necessary components so as to have repeated productions in future. The main contemporary arts examples such as musical compositions, performing arts, dance, and installation arts and their interactions are described all which are computer-based systems. Clear diagrams of the storage process are used which enable the reader to comprehend the process.

This paper contributes to the topic in that the processes of preserving interactive multimedia performances which starts from the capture and processing of data, monitoring and control, analysis and recognition, mapping strategy and the multimedia generation; which guarantees quality output. This is the strength of the paper. The weakness lies on the concept of preservation rather than production though it explains both views. The data preserved include; audio and video material, music score, 3D motion data, follow-up notes, grading, final results, software used, and feedback or comments that will ensure that the content is well used in future.

Paine, Garth. 2008. Gesture and Morphology in Laptop Music Performance. In R. T. Dean (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music and Digital Sound Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

In the book The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music and Digital Sound Culture the chapter “Gesture and Morphology in Laptop Music Performance” discusses the developments and designs of the new interfaces for electronic music performances as such the inherent affordances that are found in the acoustic instruments to move into virtual. The text concentrates more on the means in which gestures that are performative and linked to the principle control components. It also discusses issues via notions of epistemic affordances and somatological that can be found in the context of performance developments of the interface. It looks at the ThuMP presented project that give an outline in brief of the approaches that are new to the issues presented. The chapter continues to provide the information on inter-connections that are identified of music parameters as a whole by exemplifying a system that is dynamic. The connections between complexity of control parameters and how the nature of music is evolving are also discussed.

The weakness of this chapter is that it does not give the description of the methods that are used in the production of the manipulation of sounds. It does not also give the description of the techniques used in the synthesis that are able to change from the initial analogue electronic design circuits to the predominant digital circuits whose their design incorporate the mixture of design techniques.

Charles Dodge and Thomas, Jerse. 1997. Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition, and Performance.New York, Macmillan Library.

According to the preface that is provided, this text will provide information that will deal with fundamental, the synthesis technique, the modification of sound, the composition of aids to the computer, and lastly it touches on the performance of the real time. The concentration of the text is in the section of the techniques that are used in the synthesis process and the modification of sounds. The text explains the changes that have occurred but the computer music still remains an introduction that is indispensible to the area of the starters and to the experienced computer musicians it is a valuable reference. The chapter provides some codes that are used in the process of programming when discussing the computers composition. Never the less the introduction gives enough computer knowledge for the reader.

The problem with the text is that it does not provide information on the adoption of the technologies that are used for the purpose of interface. For example the Wiimote and the Wacom tablet graphics that are essential for the laptop music performance that considers the approaches that are morphological to the interfaces of music as an imperative. The swift of these interfaces that is extraordinary for laptop music performances.

Russ, Martin. 2004. Sound Synthesis and Sampling (2nd Edition). Oxford: Focal Press.

This book will provide a reference guide to the numerous techniques and the approaches that are applied in both research of sound synthesis and commercial synthesis. The strength of this book is that it provides a source of information that is solid on the diversity and complexity area of sound synthesis as the main objective. The text also gives the details of the synthesis techniques and few of the practical applications that are described so as to show the sounds can be made from the process of synthesizing. The information given fits the requirements of both the both the undergraduate and the enthusiasts levels. The book contains the materials on the design, constructions and the use of synthesizers. It also contains the information on the electronic musical instruments. For the sounds on sound, which is the leading hi-tech recording music magazine in the United Kingdom, the book will describe the techniques that are able to synthesis music and sound in studios and also in life performances.

The weakness of this reference is that, the coverage is more concentrated in the principles that are underlined so that it is not recognizes as the “build your own synthesizer” kind of the book. Also it is not guide to the production of the particular synthesized sounds.

Richardson, Richardson, I., & Harper, Carly. (2001). Corporeal Vitality: The Impossibility of a Fleshless Ontology. September 2001. Available from: Accessed August 31 2010

This reference provides the information on the notion phenomenology of the instrumentation. It gives the information on the evolvement of the practices of music that agrees with the changes that are perpetual and that performative gestures and the transform controls. It discusses the transformations that are associated with the possibilities of the corporeal having the connection to the relationship of human technology. As the result it provides information on the theorisation of the transformation that is corporal which is an idea that leads to the technology of human relations. It gives the information on the body knowledge as it is mediated technologically and the perception that is instrumentally embodied all in the sense that there is an assimilation of tools and the impingement of material upon the perception field.

The weakness with this material is that, there is no discussion on the representation of the performance of the laptop of the artifice and the absence, the alienation and the deferment of the presence. There is also no discussion on the ThuMP that gives a brief outline of the approaches that are new to these issues that present a model for the musical control that are developed from the perspective of the musicians.

Atau, Tanaka. 2009. Sensor-Based Musical Instruments and Interactive Music. In In R. T. Dean (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music and Digital Sound Culture. Oxford: Oxford

This reference gives the information on communication channels that do exist in the performance environment, for example the musical-musician. They can be regarded as ways of the music interactions. The art of music and energy is perceived by the audience as the channel of musician-audience, the responsiveness feelings of the instrument is the reaction of the musicians to their interactions with their instruments. These interaction models culled from musical practices that are traditional hence giving the materials that supplement the theory of human-machine interaction. The issues of gesture-aural coherence and clarity are discussed in this chapter. They might be effective at exposing the abilities and weaknesses of an instrument more than as compared to the analysis of the standpoint of an interface.

The weakness of this reference is that it does not aim at examining the relation that is entangled between the technology of the cyberspace and rhetoric of disembodiment. The overview of the epistemology enlargement regarding the body and precisely the Cartesian split, it does not go on to argue on how the body still subsists in the world of symbols that virtual creates in real sense, concentrating on the materiality, specialty and physical experience in the realm of cyberspace. This tries to negate the idea that digital environment is the location as per the excellence for realizing the dream of Cartesian dualism.

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