A Composers' Viewpoint
CDP members are deeply involved in the current huge shifts in music-making. As an organisation we place the emphasis on sound transformation in creative musical contexts.
Our aim is to provide new computer tools for sound design, in which the emphasis is on a detailed and flexible access to the inner features of sounds. Our goal is to help composers work with sounds. To this end, numerous programs are semi-algorithmic in nature, such as the segmentation routines and the Texture Set, which shape whole multi-event passages of music 'semi-algorithmic' in this context means ways to adjust both individual parameters and multiple events over time.)
In other words, CDP is not just focused on 'DSP' functions (digital signal processing), nor on sequencing or audio editing, and not at all with sound synthesis: other software handles these things nicely. CDP focuses on transforming existing sounds (musique concrète) and how they might be shaped over time to create anything from a single complex sound or gesture, to an extended soundscape or composition.
In doing this, we mainly adopt the composer's viewpoint and seek to create a mutually supportive environment in which practising composers can help each other, both in designing software tools and in using them effectively. We believe in and depend on the crucial importance of the composer's ability to hear music not only before it is written, but even before the means to produce it are available.
Our Long-Term Vision
In the very long term, we envision sound wholly integrated into the whole fabric of music, processing speeds and interface devices that enable both real-time processing and a new generation of performing instruments, the continued use of off-line alongside real-time operations, and the design flexibility of algorithmic & semi-algorithmic scripting. We encourage 3rd-party development of software tools that take these ideas further, either evolving the CDP software into new dimensions, or complementing it with like-minded composer tools.
A Sharing Community
The vast majority of the software has been written by Trevor Wishart, documented by Archer Endrich and maintained by Richard Dobson with help from Trevor re technical details. It is their willingness to share their 2½ decades of work which has made this possible. We hope that the free download will stimulate the further evolution of a sharing community of users.
History of CDP
Our website includes a brief history that recounts the main events in the evolution of the Composers Desktop Project's software over the past 31 years.
Towards a History of CDP
The exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery has highlighted the length and importance of CDP's history. It began in the late 1970's with a discussion group in York in which Richard Orton was a guiding figure. The participants envisioned possibilities that have come to pass beyond all expectation, and CDP's creative and business history and its contacts and role during this formative period of electroacoustic music is of considerable interest and significance. Archer has retained and archived as many key documents as possible and is now on the lookout for an independent historian to write up a proper history of CDP. CDP's contributions both in software and in overall vision deserve to be documented and recognised.
Rajmil Fischman will be coordinating future development of CDP software. We aim to promote 3rd party development in general and at this point have as a key objective putting the CDP source code into library format. We will call these the CDP-Wishart Libraries as Trevor has been designing most of our software since the early 1990's. It is going to take a great deal of work and some considerable funding to create proper libraries, and we will keep you informed of progress.
Meanwhile we are looking towards education-sector projects to bring our multi-disciplinary expertise into schools and colleges. Initially, we are focusing on 'Sound & Music Computing in Schools' (SMCS). This is partly a response to the promotion of more in-depth computer science in schools, to which we feel we can contribute as programmers and users of sound design tools tools that are now used in many colleges and universities. Our approach will be multi-disciplinary with the special aim to rejoin the Arts and the Sciences, something that we do every day in music technology. Richard Dobson has prepared an initial Website for this Project at http://www.rwdobson/smcs/smcshome.html. We feel that it is now time to consider more directly how we can share this expertise with the wider community.
Publications by CDP members.
Last updated: 23 May 2018