Sunday, November 16, 2003

On Composing & Programming - Part I

The relationship between programming and music - some further commentary on this from my own "musical blog": although there is a great deal in common between the so-called "art" of programming and composing, there are significant differences.

I'm still formulating my thoughts on this, but will say without a doubt that creating music (composing, arranging), although not without its own frustrations, is far more satisfying than the end result of writing code, even though the latter, in my case at least, pays more.

Never has a software app made me weep (unless it crashed my system). Never has a line of code made me think of "the great ones." Never has a software app convinced me that the world will be a better place for it being here (okay, Finale, SONAR, and MS Word are enabling technologies and make me happy, most of the time, I concede). No, writing software is arguably more akin to painting a house, working on a car, taking out the trash. Sure, thought and planning are required. Useful and times, necessary at others. Perhaps a bit of invention and creativity are summoned at certain points in the process, but nothing compared to the feeling of waking up one morning to review the previous night's offerings, only to shake a weary head in wonder, exclaiming: "Great gods of beauty and wonder...where did that come from!" - that's music; that's something rare; that's a horse of a different color.

The lure of software, like music, is its titillating promise: here are the tools - go forth and create! And we do. The reality is, at least with most software (and some could say music too) it usually stinks. Oh, the software may limp along with its faults and frailties for a while, but eventually falls off the emotional radar, rarely to be thought of with any of the other faculties we might otherwise associate with fond, warm and loving things.

In its defense, software helped finance the very thing enabling you to read this. So I am humbled. (I bet they play wicked guitar too!)

Music, on the other hand, is akin to magic. It's mysterious. It can be intellectualized and theorized, yet never ceases to mesmerize. A song or composition can take on new life long after its first inception - long after the life of the writer. The creation of music feeds the soul, warms the heart and broadens the mind. Music cannot be designed or managed by committee - it's a wild horse; attempts to tame her fail. Music needs no OS. Music needs only an audience of one but prefers many.

Now, back to mine.

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