[r-t] Seven Deadly Sins

Mark Davies mark at snowtiger.net
Tue Oct 25 19:41:56 UTC 2005

Rob writes,

> You, because you're the one who has generated the leadheads - not
> the other composer. In my eyes, this is the definition of composing a
> peal, quarter or whatever.

I think this is what people used to think composition was all about,
probably because it used to be that the people who "generated the
leadheads", as you say, also tended to be the people who had the brilliant
ideas about what would make a good composition, and the nous to spot the
best solution when they came across it.

However, if you think about it, that view's not correct, even without
computers. Imagine you had a pet monkey who knew nothing about ringing, but
had time on his hands and could follow instructions (not Earis, obviously
:-). Now suppose the Fluke (taking Graham's excellent example) had not yet
been invented, but you were wondering how many 3456-run generating courses
could be squeezed into a regular bobs-only two-part of London Royal. You
give your monkey friend the rules for permuting coursing orders by bobs,
tell him how many are needed for the length, list the coursing orders you
are most interested in. He doesn't have any idea what he's doing, he just
follows your instructions. Your instructions form an algorithm for finding
compositions matching your criteria. At the end of the week, he comes back
to you with a list of 24 possibilities. You look through them, pick the one
you like best, and publish it.

Who's the composer? Not the monkey. The compositional skill involved here is
having the brilliant but simple idea that a two-part peal of London Royal
might give you all that little-bell music. The composer's personal twist on
this is selecting the one composition that matches these criteria but has
the best balance (in their view) of other features, too.

> Or, if a computer has generated a composition using a program that you
> wrote yourself, then fair enough - I think in this case it's fair enough
> to claim it as your own. After all, you wrote the program.

As someone who writes composition programs, I don't think that's acceptable
at all. There's no difference between me using my own program, and someone
else using it.

 > I certainly agree that labelling all compositions with an author would be
> useful, but in this case what you would effectively be saying is:
> "Composed by Me, except I didn't compose it".

But Rob, the good bit is, composers already have a way of indicating that a
composition's theirs, whilst deprecating the amount of work they might have
put into it. This system has been in place for centuries - the "Arranger".

If you've just put a few parameters into BYROC, and hit the search button,
and picked the top result, the composition is still yours (assuming no-one
else found it first). But if you really want to play down your part in it,
use "Arr. Me Myself". By all means add a (BYROC) or an (SMC32) afterwards,
but it's the "Arr. Me Myself" that's important.


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