In addition to letting some of the air out of the idea of the scientist/genius archetype, Oval’s “file management” approach to music-making also offered a critique of how music-making was being standardized. If we are all using the same tools, the idea goes, then our creative output is circumscribed by the specifications of those tools. The software programmer is ultimately directing what the music of tomorrow is going to sound like, not the musician. All instruments have such limitations, of course—with an acoustic guitar, you can pluck or strum the strings, tune them in different ways, and tap its side, but that’s pretty much the only sound you are ever going to get out of it (an acoustic guitar is never going to sound like a trumpet). While computers were supposed to be tools of infinite possibility, the realities of software told a different story.
This score follow/performance of Stop the War! from The Road by Frederic Rzweski.
These photos and this video of Masonna by Bettina Hvidevold Hystad and Simon Torssell Lerin.