I’ve just had an article published in Contemporary Music Review as part of the volume that emerged from the Performing Indeterminacy conference in Leeds in 2017. Lovely that it is now out and available, and it can be accessed at the CMR page. The abstract is below.
What’s the Point? Balancing Purpose and Play in Rule-based Compositions
The paper applies theory drawn from game studies to music composition in order to consider ways in which rules and goals create environments that promote critical play and manage the balance between purpose, play and task subservience. It explores correspondences between rules in games and indeterminate music, and considers how constraints create agency for players through presenting them with choices and goals that can be linked to values. Game studies research shows that games rely on interactivity, goals, competitors and conflict (Crawford 2003), and consequently effort from its players so as to attach value to its outcomes (Juul 2003). In rule-based compositions, rules are used to present choices, allowing individual players to make autonomous decisions that are focused on achieving a specified goal. Some rule-based compositions, however, specify processes and actions that have no explicit purpose. A process is initiated, perhaps with an end condition, but there is no specified purpose, other than undertaking the tasks. Game studies research suggests ways in which games might create approaches for harnessing specific motivations of players in such contexts. Tasks in persuasive games (Bogost 2010) are designed to embody real-world challenges, while Flanagan and Nissenbaum (2014) propose an approach to game design that communicates embedded values. Such approaches translate to rule-based music, presenting models for linking tasks to purpose and play, and with it relationships with the world.