9. Short shAnd hSimple
Level 8: Bonus Round

Does this song have anything to do with my being a piano teacher? hmmm....

What computer music album would be complete without  "mistakes"? Nearly all of them but this one, I suppose. If one facet of computer music turns people off the most, it tends to be the notion of the imperfection of "perfection." A computer does exactly what you tell it to do (except for the countless times when they don't!).

When a composer devises a piece of music to be played by people, he or she necessarily settles on some combination of explicit instructions to the performer. However detailed these instructions, the performer has infinitely more nuanced decisions to make. Additionally, however skilled the performers may be, there will be infinite variation in their execution of even the most "deliberate" maneuvers. In other words, the composer instructs, and the performer interprets both wittingly and unwittingly.

A computer executes exact instructions. A sophisticated electronic composer may choose to program in a degree of randomness to limit the "perfection"/predictability of the computer's performance; though some will crucify the work nonetheless for lacking emotion or some other intangible quality that they can so readily detect. An unsophisticated electronic composer (like me) may choose to record something complete with idiosyncrasies and mistakes and simply make the computer parrot it back. Emotion be damned!

It may not come as a surprise to you that this song required by far the least amount of time and effort in conception and execution - maybe an hour or two tops, compared with the scores of hours involved in creating/recording some of the other more intricate compositions on this album. The idea that there is no limit to the amount of preparation that can go into the creation of a single event or moment in time has intrigued me for years. Very closely tied to this is my fascination with the related idea that the amount of time and preparation has next to no correlation with the quality, success, or grandeur of that event/moment. Improvised decisions, epiphanies, and accidents comprise much more of the fabric of existence than any amount of "planning".

"The best laid schemes of mice and men go often awry."
    ~ Robert Burns

Dear Wikipedia,

            Thank you for making it so easy to feel correct and knowledgeable. Unfortunately, feeling correct gets humanity into most of its trouble. All the same, I love you.


Rob E. Cohen