Record made to celebrate and commemorate the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition held at the ICA, London, 1st August to 20th October 1968.
"During the preparation of the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition two things became apparent.
One, that in order to show what was going on in the field computer music, it was necessary to include a considerable amount of material that was not strictly composed with or played by computer. Two, that dealing with an exploratory field, all attempts at a historical perspective or firm evaluation were out of place. The exhibition and this record, therefore, are essentially a reportage of current trends and developments in programmed and stochastic music.
The first landmark in computer composition is Lejaren A. Hiller’s ‘Illiac Suite’, 1957. Many experiments have been carried out before, but these were either exploratory without yielding a tangible music, or were mostly concerned with the technical possibilities of imitating familiar sounds.
Ideas which are relevant to composition with computers were frequently employed in the experimental musical composition of the past thirty years. The work of Joseph Schillinger, for instance, through its systematic analysis and programming, antedates the methods employed by computer composers today. The notion of randomness exemplified in the work of John Cage is also of crucial importance. Randomness (decision avoiding, or more concisely, leaving a decision to chance within an exactly specified range of possibilities) is one of the most important tools of the computer composer.
Computer music falls into two categories: computer composition and computer sound. Specific works may employ one or both of these. 'Illiac Suite’ is computer composed but performed by a string quartet. Pieces by James Tenney, Gerald Strang and Peter Zinovieff utilise the computer both as a tool to compose with and a sound-making instrument. The experimental pieces produced at Bell Telephone Laboratories make use of existing tunes like 'A bicycle built for two’ but played and sung by a computer.
As a souvenir of the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition this record is a selection of work in progress.
The cover shows a section of a score for “Four Sacred April Rounds’ 1968 by Peter Zinovieff."