#30 – Music Mouse. An instrument ANYONE can play! Just try it, it’s so much fun!! https://teropa.info/musicmouse/
This is an web application of the original Music Mouse, created in the 1960s by Laurie Spiegel.
When I’m composing, I just write note after note. I think about lots of things, I try to find good melodies and phrases, and I watch out for structure. It's not very intuitive as a process – at least after the first bit of inspiration. So, from time to time, I like to shake things up. Which is why I googled stuff like „random music“ or „stochastic music“, found composer Iannis Xenakis whom I had heard of, of course, and all of a sudden I wondered if there weren’t any others besides him. Sure, he’s important and everything, but I thought there might be others who were maybe lesser known, but who had interesting ideas, as well. So I was just over the moon when I found the Music Mouse, created by female electronic music pioneer Laurie Spiegel!! I just couldn’t stop when I found it! And believe me – ANYONE, literally ANYONE, can create beautiful music with it!
Which the Music Mouse definitely does. I just couldn’t stop when I found it this week!
Interesting little tidbit: music created with the Music Mouse sounds so good that a music professor in the States complained to programmer and composer Laurie Spiegel that he couldn’t grade his students anymore, since he didn’t know if the students really KNEW the music they created with it, or whether it did the work for them.
Which, to Laurie Spiegel, is the point exactly. She’s interested to find out which processes in music composition can be automated, and which not at all. And she also says – and this really stayed with me all week – that the computer is in fact a „folk instrument“. People play music with and on it, they borrow from each other, they do remixes and sampling, and the music just goes around, without there necessarily being a finished piece in the end. There’s no, as she describes it, „bottleneck of written notation“. It’s just like sitting around a fire, playing a song on the banjo without anyone ever knowing who wrote it, or invented it, in the first place. She says:
„Electronic music did for getting things from the imagination to the ears of an audience what the internet later did for everybody being able to self-publish, democratizing it in ways that obviously have pros and cons.”
And if you need to know more about this pioneer of electronic music, know this: her work was sent into space in 1977 – as part of the Golden Record project. And although the Music Mouse was very popular, she herself wasn’t exactly a household name, until around ten years ago, one of her pieces was included on the Hunger Games soundtrack…
Just check out this beautiful piece: