Hobman, Jason (2011) Instrumentality in Electronic Music. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

There is nothing intrinsically musical about a laptop computer, but there has in the past two decades been a rise in popularity of using portable computers to perform music. Computers powerful enough to create music were once exclusive to Universities and music studios. Now computers are as accessible to people as traditional instruments and have fully opened the world of electronic music to the non-musician through the use of graphic interfaces.

This commentary will discuss the relationship between instrumentality and the performance and
composition of electronic music by examining traditional methods of instrumental performance and the relatively modern idea of performing live with a laptop computer. The issue of imperfection will be discussed and how certain ‘errors’ have become widely acceptable even to the point where
whole genres have arisen entirely from their creation. I will look at the way glitch music began as a genre entirely reliant on the computer for its creation into one that has embraced traditional instrumentation and the idea of performance.

There will be a comparison of the compositional styles of Alva Noto's earlier solo work and his
more recent collaborations, in particular with the Ensemble Modern and the formally trained pianist and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. The aim of this is to examine whether the inclusion of
instruments or notions of instrumentality in the compositional process has in some way changed
Alva Noto’s approach to composing from a visually led (cymatic) process to one that is more
sonically led. This comparison is used as a case study to inform my own work as some works in the
portfolio set out deliberately to explore traditional instrumental playing techniques, whereas others deal with virtuosity within the software environment of Ableton Live.

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