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Kaija Saariaho on Composing Using a Computer in the Past

We recently filmed Kaija Saariaho—Carnegie Hall's 2011-2012 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair—at one of the most unusal and interesting locations we've ever seen: the historic RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer at the Computer Music Center, Columbia University. "Victor"—as it is nicknamed—was the instrument of electronic music pioneers, including Vladimir Ussachevsky, Bülent Arel, Alice Shields, and Milton Babbitt.

Here, Saariaho describes the particular challenges associated with composing music on computers in the mid-1980s. She specifically emphasizes that the quantum leaps in computing power in the intervening decades should not mean less time devoted to making art.


 


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