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Algorithmic composition - what does everyone think?
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What do you think is the best or worst thing about algorithmic composition?
Good: a source of new ideas
51%
 51%  [ 19 ]
Good: making composition easier / faster
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Good: writing/hearing this kind of music is an enjoyable puzzle
32%
 32%  [ 12 ]
Bad: what music sounds/feels like is much more important
5%
 5%  [ 2 ]
Bad: the algorithmic music I've heard so far just doesn't inspire me
10%
 10%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 37

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abreaktor



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

recently ive ran across some extremely interesting feedback patches in buzz. since those patterns seem to be self-evolving and generate very interesting and captivating sounds... would you say that feedbacks are a form of algorhithmic (or at least generative music), too? (protip: always have a brickwall limiter running on the master XD)
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
DrJustice wrote:
For me, listening to algorithmic composition is usually an intellectual pleasure and/or challenge. Only very rarely (if ever...) does it evoke an emotional response or provide direct inspiration.


you can not expect algorithmic music to evoke an emotional response. it's a matter of fact.


Expect it, perhaps you're right, but experience it? Yes I do. Stefan's piece which won the Computer Generated Music Contest made me feel giddy and happy. My No Wave Generator at times jams like a rock song, quite powerfully in fact, which elicits an emotional response from me. Also at times it has sort of a slinky meander to it which makes me feel groovy for lack of a better term, and sometimes the dramatic pauses are, well, dramatic. So call me a music fool for letting my emotions get affected by a computer program, but I like it! (like it, like it, yes I do!)

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seraph
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
seraph wrote:
DrJustice wrote:
For me, listening to algorithmic composition is usually an intellectual pleasure and/or challenge. Only very rarely (if ever...) does it evoke an emotional response or provide direct inspiration.


you can not expect algorithmic music to evoke an emotional response. it's a matter of fact.


Expect it, perhaps you're right, but experience it? Yes I do.


each one of us can experience an emotional response triggered by any event: a falling tree, birds chirping, the view of sunset, anything really (algorithmic music included) but that only means that you react to an involuntary event not meant to be interpreted specifically in any emotional way.
(this is only my humble point of view)

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

event with no intent ? Shocked
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

OK, then how about a painting? The artist crafts an image designed to elicit an emotional response. But the finished object is just an object that sits there and does nothing.

I crafted the guitar in my music software to be a powerful, awe-inspiring guitar sound. I knew that if I adjusted some control parameters appropriately and added some effects, I could get that "rock god" type of sound from the software. It turned out nicely and sometimes, just once in a while the algorithm cranks out notes that really make that guitar give me the feeling of power, just like say a rock song might (especially after a few beers).

I spent hours crafting that sound, trying different effects, creating and destroying, just like a clay sculpture artist would. It's automated, but so is a movie or a game. Does a movie elicit an emotional response? Or a video game that makes your hair stand on end when the monster jumps out at you? I think so, but as you say, it's just my humble opinion.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
OK, then how about a painting? The artist crafts an image designed to elicit an emotional response. But the finished object is just an object that sits there and does nothing.

For me the difference is only between intentional events meant to elicit emotional responses and accidental events that randomly evoke emotional responses.
Of course, what may cause a deep response by me could be completely insignificant to you.
I remember watching this painting in Amsterdam
Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.
and having to turn away from it because it was so powerful I could not stand its view and at the same time seeing people passing by watching it like you watch a broken refrigerator.
what can I say Question

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I see your point, it's a completely individual thing.
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GaryRea



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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I tried messing around with Sseyo's Koan Pro, back in the nineties and also took a shot at Audiomulch, but, I guess I'm too tied to structure and more interested in actually composing, as opposed to letting a machine make my music for me. Call me old fashioned, but my opinion is, if it isn't human-made it's probably not going to appeal to most human ears and brains.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

What about a synthesizer noodle? That's an automated piece of electronics that generates music. If you're going to rule out computer generated music then you have to rule out synthesizers also.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A synth is a musical instrument. It creates music only when a human operates its keyboard. Not the same thing as a generative music program, which, once initiated, simply makes music via an algorithm. The music is created without any human interaction, to speak of. One can't get a synth to compose music spontaneously without human input. Without a human being operating the keys, it's just an expensive paperweight with some electronics inside.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

GaryRea wrote:
A synth is a musical instrument. It creates music only when a human operates its keyboard.


Shocked my synths have no keyboard .... yet they are more than paperweights to me, making music in my ears even, but erm .. that may just be a problem with my ears of course Rolling Eyes

It has to be said though they don't do so without human action, I programmed them after all ...

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yep, and to be fair, even a generative music program won't do anything until someone initiates it. But, we're arguing the wrong thing, here. What I really meant to say was that, personally, I prefer to make music proactively, with my own hands, ears and mind, as opposed to just turning on some software and sitting there as a passive listener while it generates "music." Not my cup of tea. The more "high-tech" things get, the more I yearn for "high-touch."

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

GaryRea wrote:
What I really meant to say was that, personally


Would have been best I think to say it like that in your other message Wink

Anyway, I do appreciate your opinion on this even when we do not agree on these matters. For me making a generative thingie is usually a matter of listening and tuning things for a good while, this can be weeks or months even. So for me its not anything like flipping the switch and sit back, it's my way of composing things. Still a lot of what the contraption does will be different each time it is switched on.

Re. keyboards there are more types of input devices of course. I do use a MIDI sax at times - which works better for me than a keyboard.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Jan
in your case composing and programming is the same thing Very Happy

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As Inventor said ... or what I made from his words rather ... is that there is no difference between writing a generative music program or patching up a modular synthesizer, both are forms of programming, both can lead to interesting and to uninteresting results.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, Jan, that is what I tried to say. Not all synthesizers have keyboards. On a modular synthesizer without a keyboard you patch it up, adjust the dials, and let it run. You may choose to interact with the dials or not.

It makes no difference to me whether this is a hardware synth or a software synth. We could create identical algorithms, more or less, either way.

I second Jan's comment that the process of creating a generative algorithm is like composing. You start out with something simple and crude, then try it out then add to it and refine it like you were working on a music piece.

And what of the composer who writes a symphony to be played by humans? He/she is essentially encoding his song onto some pieces of paper, and then other people do the performance. So he/she has distilled the composition effort down to something that could be stored in a few kilobytes of a text file. My programs are text files. They both make music.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I would also like to comment that we could view any instrument as partly machine and partly human. Each of these components can vary in the degree of interaction. If I make music with a stick, the machine is simple and it's all human. If I use a modular synth, the machine is complex and the human component can be anything from zero to a lot of interaction.

So it's a matter of degree, how much each system contributes to the music. We can model these with numbers varying from 0% to 100%, human and machine each having one number that describes their level of participation.

Now, where do you draw the line? Does the human need to have 100% interaction with the machine? Or is 50% sufficient to make the music "good". How about 0.01%, that' still human interaction.

So IMHO there is a fuzzy degree of participation of both human and machine in the performance itself, not to mention the human and machine participation in the composition of the music. I guess where you draw the line is up to you.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
GaryRea wrote:
What I really meant to say was that, personally


Would have been best I think to say it like that in your other message Wink


Yeah, sorry about that. Wink



Blue Hell wrote:
Anyway, I do appreciate your opinion on this even when we do not agree on these matters. For me making a generative thingie is usually a matter of listening and tuning things for a good while, this can be weeks or months even. So for me its not anything like flipping the switch and sit back, it's my way of composing things. Still a lot of what the contraption does will be different each time it is switched on.


I don't have that kind of patience. My method is more linear and immediate. Basically, performance-driven and improvised, so I need immediate results. Also, I just don't like most of the generative music I've heard. It's never anything that I would have chosen to do if I were in full control, so, it doesn't sound like my music.

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dewdrop_world



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think there's a whole continuum, or multidimensional field, where note for note composition, hands-on instrument improvisation, complete algorithmic generation of whole pieces or sections, computer assisted composition, and live/interactive computer music involving any or all of these modalities are possible. At least initially, he suggested a strict dichotomy between hands-on musicmaking versus switching the algorithm on with no human intervention. Well, of course that's no contest -- music by a person will win, every time.

I use some algorithmic composition techniques in my pieces, as a practical necessity for making live, interactive music on the computer. There's just no earthly way 10 fingers could produce all the notes and textures I'm after, not in real time. But I don't work exclusively algorithmically. While I let the computer work out some compositional details, I don't give up responsibility for the musical result -- it takes as much time to tune an algorithm to make something attractive as it would take to write notes on paper -- maybe even longer! (The difference there is, if I write it on paper, I have one arrangement of notes. The algorithm makes the piece a bit different every time. For the extra trouble, I get lots of pieces, not just one!)

I certainly don't expect everyone to want to work this way. Just pointing out that an algorithm can be a compositional resource, and it's up to the composer how to use it. In the piece I'm working on now (violin and computer), the violin part is going to be mostly through composed; some algorithms are used in the computer part because for much of the piece, pacing will be under control of the live player (as opposed to tape music where the player is chained to the recording -- here the player will drive the computer, not the other way around). The piece might end up being 15-20% algorithmic at most.

James

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GaryRea



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well, when you put it that way, yes, I can certainly see generative music composition's utility. I was addressing the initial subject/question as it was presented, which did seem, to me, as an either/or alternative to conventional composition, in which case, I'd be bored to death with it. But, yes, you could combine any number of compositional aids in the same piece and that would be interesting, I think.

I did some pieces, a few years ago, in which I used, not a generative program, but a VSTi that would produce random rhythmic patterns with an electric piano-like voice. I used it as a chordal backdrop, over which I did washes of string synth and choir sounds and it came out sounding very interesting and polyrhythmic. They're both on this page:

http://mixcraftlive.com/members/385/audio.php

One is titled "Childhood Dreams" and the other (on the next page) is "When We Were Young." I like the latter the best of the two.

Gary
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

GaryRea wrote:
I was addressing the initial subject/question as it was presented, which did seem, to me, as an either/or alternative to conventional composition, in which case, I'd be bored to death with it.


Sorry if the question gave you that impression - I never really thought of it like that. Embarassed

For a long time I've wanted to make some completely algorithmic music (to the extent that it's even possible - you still have to choose your algorithm and instrumentation according to what you like the sound of!). But I've always ended up having to combine the algorithm with composing-by-ear, just to get something that didn't as you say, bore people to death.

So I think I took it for granted that the algorithm wouldn't normally control absolutely everything in the music...


Interesting you've also tried random generators. And I like the result - have you ever heard of Per Norgard's infinity series*?. For me though (who always wants a reductionist scientific explanation of everything, including some aspects of art...) randomness doesn't really appeal. If you ran the same generator again you'd get a different result - or you could have got the same thing by choosing each note yourself. For me the biggest kick I get from composing this way is knowing the deterministic relation between the tiny amount of data in the algorithm and the many notes in the finished music.

* BTW the infinity series isn't random. It isn't usually confined to a major or minor scale, although it can be.

Gordon
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GaryRea



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
Sorry if the question gave you that impression - I never really thought of it like that. Embarassed


No problem, Gordon. That was as much (if not more) my interpretation as it was your statement. Wink

Octahedra wrote:
For a long time I've wanted to make some completely algorithmic music (to the extent that it's even possible - you still have to choose your algorithm and instrumentation according to what you like the sound of!). But I've always ended up having to combine the algorithm with composing-by-ear, just to get something that didn't as you say, bore people to death.


I had thought about this, myself, back in the nineties, when I was messing around with a demo of Sseyo's Koan Pro. But, I could never get it working, so gave up on the idea.

Octahedra wrote:
So I think I took it for granted that the algorithm wouldn't normally control absolutely everything in the music...


That's what I prefer, myself; i.e., not surrendering my creativity to the technology. It asks the question, where does the software leave off and the human begin?


Octahedra wrote:
Interesting you've also tried random generators. And I like the result - have you ever heard of Per Norgard's infinity series*?. For me though (who always wants a reductionist scientific explanation of everything, including some aspects of art...) randomness doesn't really appeal. If you ran the same generator again you'd get a different result - or you could have got the same thing by choosing each note yourself. For me the biggest kick I get from composing this way is knowing the deterministic relation between the tiny amount of data in the algorithm and the many notes in the finished music.

* BTW the infinity series isn't random. It isn't usually confined to a major or minor scale, although it can be.


I wasn't familiar with Norgard until you mentioned him, so I've had a listen to some samples of his work. When it comes to twentieth century music, I get into it in small doses and I'm usually very selective. Karlheinz Stockhausen, Stomu Ymashta, and, to a lesser extent, Philip Glass are among some I've bought before. I like what Norgard is doing, though. There is much more variety in his music than, say, in Glass's. His Works for Cello is particularly interesting.

I tend to like some degree of randomness, myself, but it depends on the situation, as well as the medium. I'm also an abstract painter, so a certain degree of randomness is something I feel at home with, at least where visual art is concerned. http://www.garyrea.com

Are you familiar with Ralph Towner or Paul McCandless? Both were in Paul Winter's Consort in the seventies and, later, with Consort members Glen Moore (acoustic bass) and Colin Walcott (percussion, sitar) formed the group Oregon. They've always been among my favorites.

Gary
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Wow Gary, I really enjoyed your art. I have no formal art training so I don't know much about that sort of thing, but it kind of gave me a good feeling. Maybe it was the colors or dare I say it - the randomness?

Les

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks, Les. Any response for whatever reason is a good one, in my book. It's when nothing happens at all that I get frustrated. Wink

Gary
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

nice art, man! ive bought something off a local artist for my former agency that was very much in the same streak of abstract yet soothing painting.
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