A Computer-Music Man Unplugs
By Daniel J. Wakin
After 35 years immersed in the world of computer music, the composer Paul Lansky talks with wonder about the enormous capacities of primitive objects carved from trees or stamped from metal sheets: violins, cellos, trumpets, pianos.
"To create the sound of a violin – wow!" he said in a recent interview. "I can't do that on a computer."
Mr. Lansky has written a new chapter, or at least a fat footnote, in the annals of artistic reinvention. A professor at Princeton, he was a pioneering figure in the computer music field and wrote one of its important programs, Cmix. (He also earned a place of honor with Radiohead fans when the band used an excerpt from an early piece.) But Mr. Lansky has abandoned the art form that made his name and has turned to more traditional composition.
"I hate to say this, but I think I'm done," Mr. Lansky said. "Basically I've said what I've had to say. Here I am, 64, and I find myself at what feels like the beginning of a career. I'm interested in writing for real people at this point."
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