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A Robot for a Friend composed by Ryan Carter (2014)Written for Flute with or without fixed mediaIncludes SCORE ONLYMy program notes rarely describe the piece to which they are attached; I hope that the sound of a composition sufficiently explains itself. Instead, I use program notes to share what was on my mind as I composed a work. I offer these thoughts for those who are curious. A recurrent theme in my work is the influence of emerging technologies in our experience of music, a broad subject that I explore in specific ways. A Robot for a Friend is inspired by an experience I had searching for electroacoustic flute music on Spotify, where I came across an ambiguously presented "Pasacaglia" for flute and tape, for which no composer was listed (because Spotify does not have separate informational fields for composers and performers, sometimes no composer is listed at all for a piece of music). In this case, I tried to find the missing information by locating the same album on iTunes, which did attribute the work to a particular composer: Muzio Clementi. Fairly certain that a piece of electronic music was not produced by an 18th-century composer, I appealed to Facebook, where one of my friends suggested that the work may have been created by 20th-century composer Aldo Clementi (which it was).
In this score, the term "robot" does not refer to a human-shaped metal object that walks and talks. Instead, it refers to the algorithms that extract features from sound, select what information to display, and suggest what music we should listen to. I have a mostly friendly relationship with these robots, but sometimes they lie.