About Cognitive Musicology
"Cognitive musicology" is the name I gave to the discipline of my invention whose purpose it was to understand in depth the relationship between mental processes called "musical" - such as "composing", "analyzing music", "conducting music", "performing music", etc. - and the "musical" results they produce. I felt that it was time to re-focus musicology on the processes that make music come into being, rather than fixate attention on the "dead" historical results called "musical compositions" strewn over many historical periods.
This re-orientation entailed that all music was "living music" since even works created in the past could come to life only through one or more of the activities in the present , named above. In that sense, there really was no "old music" or "history of music"; there was only music realized and listened to in the present, in the moment, and everything else was an impoverished abstraction.
This radical notion of music was inspired, on one hand, by the research into transformational grammar by N. Chomsky, on the other hand, by the sound research that led to "musique concrète", by P. Schaeffer in the early fifties. It was further strengthened by the discipline called "information processing psychology" founded by H. A. Simon and A. Newell in the middle fifties which lead to attempts to "simulate" human problem solving behavior, including musical problem solving such as composition, by "intelligent" computer software.
Evidently, cognitive musicology had everything to do with the digital computer, and indeed was from the start on its way to artificial intelligence.
In my research between 1970 and 1995, I chose as focus of cognitive musicology the compositional process itself, especially the compositional process supported by computer software, and more specifically, by "score synthesis" (rather than "sound synthesis") programs. As a model of such software I chose Koenig's Project One program (1967), a program for generating numerical "algorithmic" scores.
My work ultimately led me to the notion of the computer as the artist's Alter Ego, not only in music, but also in poetry, choreography, and the visual arts.
Summaries of my work in this field - which was never taken up by a larger number of researchers as I had initially hoped - are found in:
- O. Laske (1972), On Performance Models of Music, Sonological Reports, Utrecht, The Netherlands: Institute of Sonology
- O. Laske (1977), Music, Memory, and Thought, Ann Arbor , MI : University Microfilms International (now Bell & Howell) [ISBN 0-8357-0265-0]
- O. Laske, with M. Balaban and K. Ebcioglu (1992), Understanding Music with A.I., Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. [ISBN 0-262-52170-9]
- J. N. Tabor (1999), Otto Laske: Navigating New Musical Horizons, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. [ISBN 0-313-30632-X]
Between 1972 and 1995, I published a plethora of articles about cognitive musicology, now listed in Tabor's book, above. Under the editorship of Nico Schueler, Mellen Press will publish 3 volumes of selected writings on the topic of cognitive musicology. See the Artist Resume for a complete list of publications.