The Raku Composition Program by Dan Senn A raku bowl by Dan Senn ci. 1974 click to enlarge->


In 1972, while studying music and art at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, I was introduced to "raku," an aleatoric method of making pottery. Raku has its origin in the Zen tea ceremony where the emphasis is on the natural and "the inherent beauty of the nonperfect and assymetrical form" (Rieger 1970). Since the 1960's, raku has become popular throughout the Western art world, usually outside its original context, where potters are attracted by its philosophy, the economic facilities it requires, and the special effects that can be achieved using the process. As a composer working in the visual arts, my exposure to raku marked a turning point in my creative development. I clearly remember my admired ceramics professor reverently holding a cracked and assymetrical tea bowl and announcing that it had taken him twenty years to learn to throw this way. It was through his example and then my own experiences with raku that I began to unlearn music composition. It provided me with a metaphor upon which I began systematically to "run from my talent"-- that is, my ability to imitate historical artifacts, whether in music or in art. In this article I will describe a computer program called the Raku Composition Program (RCP) which embodies the aesthetic underpinnings of this process.

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The Raku Composition Program, Interface, Vol. 20 (1991), pp. 197-207, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.