[r-t] Seven Deadly Sins

Mark Davies mark at snowtiger.net
Thu Oct 27 22:15:32 UTC 2005

Some answers for the as-yet unconvinced Rob Lee:

> Who has composed it then? You certainly haven't - you've picked a
> composition from a list.

Not just - I laid down the rules for the search, too. I had the ideas, the
directing intelligence.

> The point is that without the monkey, you wouldn't have any compositions.

Neither would you have the compositions if you hadn't had the idea in the
first place. You need both things to get the result. One is a creative
thing, that only humans can achieve. The other is a mundane, repetitive task
that humans, monkeys, or computers can all do.

> Composition is, by definition, about generating compositions.

Composition is about producing compositions. Why should we regulate how
those compositions are produced?

When you say "generating", you mean, generating combinations of leads by
hand. I don't want composition to be shackled to hand-generation of leads
forever. There is a whole infinity of wondrous compositional possibilities
waiting out there, ready for the plucking by the choosy and imaginative eye
of the human composer, which will never be found if we restrict ourselves

Composers *do* slog through lots of mundane, repetitive tasks (even if
they're using a computer). But they also seize the best tools they can find,
to try and reduce that bit of the process to the minimum. And this is always 
how progress is made - the brilliant innovations of today are the mundane 
tools of tomorrow.

> Seeing as you wrote the program, surely the user should acknowledge that
> without it they wouldn't have achieved anything.

When I wrote the program, all I did was embody an algorithm in some computer
code. I could (in theory) have told you the algorithm instead, and you could
have followed it by hand (certainly for small searches...). By using my
program, you are using my algorithm, but that's no different from Ben
Willetts, on ringing-theory, explaining to William Dawson, also on
ringing-theory, how you calculate internal falseness, and William going away
and using this new knowledge (algorithm) to produce compositions.

If you learn some tricks of the trade from someone else - for instance,
internal falseness - are you indebted to them for every composition you
produce? No. The same is true of composing programs. The author of the
program has provided you a tool, a composing spade we might call it, no
more. The spade isn't the composer.


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