This historical reminiscence details the evolution of a type of electronic music called “computer network music.” Early computer network music had a heterogeneous quality, with independent composers forming a collective; over time, it has transitioned into the more autonomous form of university-centered “laptop orchestra.” This transition points to a fundamental shift in the cultural contexts in which this artistic practice was and is embedded: The early work derived from the post-hippie, neo-punk anarchism of cooperatives whose members dreamed that machines would enable a kind of utopia. The latter is a direct outgrowth of the potential inherent in what networks actually are and of a sense of social cohesion based on uniformity and standardization. The discovery that this style of computer music-making can be effectively used as a curricular tool has also deeply affected the evolution and approaches of many in the field.

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