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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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GaryRea



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks! Very Happy

Well, getting back on topic, I downloaded and installed the demo of Noatikl (the replacement for Sseyo Koan) last night. Haven't really used it yet, but it looks like fun. I tried just letting it run and got some rather disjointed rhythms, but interesting harmonies from it.

The coolest thing is that it automatically installed itself as both a stand alone and a VSTi, so I can record its output right there in Mixcraft and then add other instrument parts, etc.

I have the use of the demo for a month, then it's $99 to buy. Not bad.

Gary
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

GaryRea wrote:
Are you familiar with Ralph Towner or Paul McCandless?


I'm afraid I hadn't heard of these guys before. Although I have a couple of Jan Garbarek CDs somewhere, I've never got into jazz because somehow I'm still a tiny bit squeamish about unpredictability and erratic-ness (if that's a word) in any kind of art - musical or visual.

I grew up listening to Jean-Michel Jarre, and later on Steve Reich (visual equivalent: Victor Vasarely). It's only in the last few years that I've really been able to enjoy stuff like Giacinto Scelsi (and his visual equivalent: Mark Rothko).

What impresses me straight away about your art is your confidence with gestures. I'm a structure man myself, but after years of creating album covers (mostly for my own music) and occasional art for art's sake, mostly made in Illustrator and Photoshop plus various 3D packages, I recently thought I should have a go at something a bit more messy and spontaneous. So right there I made something with whatever materials I could find in the house at the time - fabric dyes applied to watercolour paper using brushes and rags. Then I scanned it and gave it a total overhaul in Photoshop. Result? Well, it's not really me. File under 'worthwhile failed experiment' study ...

Just in case you hadn't found them, the Norgard pieces that really show off the infinity series are his Symphony no.2 and the second part of Voyage into the Golden Screen...

Gordon
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GaryRea



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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
GaryRea wrote:
Are you familiar with Ralph Towner or Paul McCandless?


I'm afraid I hadn't heard of these guys before. Although I have a couple of Jan Garbarek CDs somewhere, I've never got into jazz because somehow I'm still a tiny bit squeamish about unpredictability and erratic-ness (if that's a word) in any kind of art - musical or visual.

I grew up listening to Jean-Michel Jarre, and later on Steve Reich (visual equivalent: Victor Vasarely). It's only in the last few years that I've really been able to enjoy stuff like Giacinto Scelsi (and his visual equivalent: Mark Rothko).


I have several of Garbarek's albums. I started listening to him back in the seventies, when he was recording on ECM Records. Jarre I have maybe one album, but I'm not that fond of it. As for Reich, I like some of what he's done ("Music for 18 Musicians"), but I can only take so much both he and Philip Glass. I've always been drawn more to improvisational music, hence my interest in jazz. I don't really consider Towner, McCandless or Garbarek jazz artists, though that's the section you'll find their music in - if you can find a record store still in existence.

Octahedra wrote:
What impresses me straight away about your art is your confidence with gestures. I'm a structure man myself, but after years of creating album covers (mostly for my own music) and occasional art for art's sake, mostly made in Illustrator and Photoshop plus various 3D packages, I recently thought I should have a go at something a bit more messy and spontaneous. So right there I made something with whatever materials I could find in the house at the time - fabric dyes applied to watercolour paper using brushes and rags. Then I scanned it and gave it a total overhaul in Photoshop. Result? Well, it's not really me. File under 'worthwhile failed experiment' study ..


Thanks. What appears spontaneous is more thoughtfully planned and executed than it looks, though. I've arrived at a process that I never deviate from and I've developed my own gestural "language," so I know pretty much what I'm going to do before I do it. Truth be told, so did De Kooning and Kline. Kline used to do studies on telephone book pages before executing them on canvas. De Kooning got him started doing large canvases by showing him how to take a picture and blow up part of it on an opaque projector, then make his strokes over the projected image. I don't know if Kline painted that way consistently, though.

Octahedra wrote:
Just in case you hadn't found them, the Norgard pieces that really show off the infinity series are his Symphony no.2 and the second part of Voyage into the Golden Screen...

Gordon


Thanks. I found a brief sample from Symphony No. 6...still looking for No. 2, though.

Gary
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alphacore76



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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:58 pm    Post subject: My Views of Algorithmic Compositions Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Well I'm Personally a huge fan of computer generated compositions such has Algorithmic music fractal text_2_midi ect.. with all the advancements in computer music offers I feel people can really get more out of fractal and algorithmic music than say 5 or 10 years ago being able to import the midi into programs like reason the mixes and remixes are endless really and really like to see labels or netlabels pick up more artist practicing and studying this form of musical Art..

Noghost31
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moodchannel



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

as demonstrated by the posts... there are a lot of considerations for this topic... most notably "what constitutes algorithmic composition"? do asynchronous loops count as algorithmic? what about asynchronous LFOs? noodles? how much of a composition needs to be algorithmic to be considered as such?

personally... I am always working towards making music in real-time... so algorithmic approaches are something I have experimented with on and off for the past several years. I have not focused as much on "purely" generative music... but here is a sample of a piano generator I created with max/msp:

http://www.themoodchannel.com/test/piano_033108.mp3

the above implemented markov chains along with scripted events to define the timing and key characteristics of each phrase. overall I find it amusing... but nothing I would put on an album. it does seem that listening to the program when it is playing in real-time is more satisfying than listening to the recording of the output.

these days I'm more interested in using midi effects to accentuate my playing. I have a midi delay abstraction which allows me to apply feedback to the delay time... as well as multi-step transposition. I find this to be most satisfying because I am able to create music in real-time which is rooted in human feel and timing.... but is also unpredictable enough to satisfy my own entertainment needs as I'm making it!
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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:11 pm    Post subject:
Subject description: algorithmic improv
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I suppose the piece I played for SS09 counts as algorithmic composition, or maybe algorithmic improvisation. It maps word lists extracted using depth first search from the most recent move in an on-line Scrabble game to chords, one letter per note and one chord per word, and then uses a plugin Java module with user-playable mapping parameters to arpeggiate, schedule and deliver the notes and control as MIDI messages. The plugin is fixed, but there is an awful lot of space opened up for play by the mapping parameters.

The thing that works well about structures like word lists is that there is human-oriented structure to them. In the reconfigurable scales, for example, I typically map vowels to tonic and 5ths in various scales, conversely mapping outlier letters like X or Q to outlier scale steps. One interesting result is that if you assign different scales to different MIDI channels, the notes tend to converge on the tonic and 5ths, start to diverge on the 3rds, etc. It wanders into chromaticism, but it breathes in and out of related scales. The prevalence of vowels (and therefore tonic and 5th across multiple octaves) keeps it from getting too far out. Of course, you can use a single scale across all midi channels if you want strict diatonic consonance.

Even more fundamental, though, is the fact that while these word lists have certain structures that map well to musical structures, they ignore a lot of musical habits like resolving to a root or other typical step in the scale. They resolve to whatever letter comes at the end of the last word. This changes many times after a new word is added (since the search order changes for a branchy word list). It creates its own symmetry that maps well to music but that does not duplicate any particular musical formula.

I guess I like mapping human symbol structures to other human symbol structures. A lot of work has already been done in the mapping's source structure that I can use as it already is.

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moodchannel



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:58 am    Post subject:
Subject description: algorithmic improv
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Acoustic Interloper wrote:
I guess I like mapping human symbol structures to other human symbol structures. A lot of work has already been done in the mapping's source structure that I can use as it already is.


I like your approach... and I like that piece!

I wonder how my knowing that it's a scrabble game has affected my interpretation? I think that as background music for the actual game players it's excellent.
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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:49 am    Post subject:
Subject description: algorithmic improv
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moodchannel wrote:
Acoustic Interloper wrote:
I guess I like mapping human symbol structures to other human symbol structures. A lot of work has already been done in the mapping's source structure that I can use as it already is.


I like your approach... and I like that piece!

I wonder how my knowing that it's a scrabble game has affected my interpretation? I think that as background music for the actual game players it's excellent.

Glad you like it Exclamation I want to light up the board like a pinball machine, lighting letters as they are played, but the different MIDI channels consume the letters off the board at different rates, so I will probably generate some kind of off-the-board auxiliary display for that.

It took a fair amount of trial and error to find the most useful mapping parameters that would allow actual performance. I discarded about a third of the experimental parameters. Each performance is different because the actual word mix makes a difference. The biggest limitation is that, by the end of the game, over 90% of the sequence is fixed, so you mostly have to play the mapping config parameters. One ultimate goal is to design a game with good music mapping qualities.

One improvement over the SS09 performance is when you have several people playing the game and another playing the config parameters. I played SS09 by myself, but in a performance this fall we will have four students playing the game and I'll play the output of that via the config parameters. Playing solo requires going back and forth between the game and the parameters, but I think playing this as an ensemble piece will make for better music. More minds working in parallel. I like that aspect of it as well. Very Happy

The source code is at http://faculty.kutztown.edu/parson/music/ for anyone interested. I'll update as I make substantial changes.

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bachus



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:39 am    Post subject: Re: Algorithmic composition - what does everyone think? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Acoustic Interloper wrote:
The other year I worked for a while trying to use the genetic algorithm to explore accompaniment space in algorithmic improvisation, and what I found is that the space is too big, and mostly dead boring. Seeding it with "intentional algorithms" (or in AI parlance, "knowledge based methods") instead of the more general "weak methods" of AI (general search or problem solving methods) gives much more satisfying results.


I feel pretty much the same way, though I voted for number 4. I think there is an important distinction to be made between simple pattern generating methods and those that incorporate "musical knowledge" and heuristic music analysis such as David Cope's "Experiments in Musical Intelligence"

To my ear these computer generated pieces are technically impressive yet disappoint in their lack of "conviction", though the Mazurka (After Chopin) is almost musically convincing. The idea of combining such sophisticated heuristics with the ability to define important aesthetic parameters both globally and locally is very attractive to me.

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Sam_Zen



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Agreed.

For several years now I'm using the app. FracMus2000 to create music in MIDI format based on fractal formulas.
This is the only occasion I compose MIDI, because I have no such keyboards or modules.
It's a very nice way to explore the area of what I call "controlled random", so I voted 1.

FM2000 has a very useful Compose function to define certain areas in a work with specific properties.
And each instrument can have its own tuned fractal type, rendering notes from a chosen scale.

An example : Opticon

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Electroma Boy



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:40 am    Post subject: Can somebody explain me what algorithmic composition is? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Can somebody explain me in simple terms what algorithmic composition exactly is?
I heard one song by mike foyle and it was pretty good but it had a lot of strange stuff on the screen (on pc).

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bachus



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A good place to start is here.

The first two paragraphs are about the simplest adequate description. If you have any questions about what you find there we'll be glad to help you out.

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Acoustic Interloper



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bachus wrote:
A good place to start is here.

The first two paragraphs are about the simplest adequate description. If you have any questions about what you find there we'll be glad to help you out.

above site wrote:
There is a radical distinction (both in terms of philosophy and in the heard result) between composers who use indeterminate (e.g. stochastic) procedures to compose music and those who use routines which produce deterministic results given a fixed input into the algorithm . . .The success or failure of these procedures as sources of "good" music largely depends on the mapping system employed by the composer to translate the non-musical information into a musical data stream.

Perhaps Scrabble-to-MIDI breaks new ground in belonging to neither of these radically distinct categories. Letter selection is stochastic based on available letters in the "bag of tiles," but word creation is part of human performance.

The composition itself is plug-in code (Java in this case), but it is still performed in part by humans. I think of it as algorithmic improvisation.

The mapping system is definitely central in this approach.

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MadPierre



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:31 am    Post subject: algorithmic music, takes me back to the 70's Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Nostalgia trip.

Beep. This takes me back to 1978/79 and my first experiments in computer generated music. The computer was a Sharp MZ80K, it had a single 'audio channel' that could be manipulated using a couple of commands in BASIC, TEMPO(n) and PLAY(SomeTextString). The output from the programs I devised, was SomeTextString, which was then bleeped back in glorious mono.

A more or less (in)coherent description is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_Macro_Language

The output was a basic pulse waveform, and other than a few home built audio oscillators, the MZ80K was my main sound source back in the day.

A lot of the compositional ideas behind my MZ80K programs were 'borrowed' from Stockhausen, Cage, and a rather heavy going book called Twelve-Tone Tonality by George Perle.

Sadly none of the recordings I made of this stuff survive. I used to record using two cheap mono cassette machines, a three into two passive mixer, and 'master' into a stereo cassette deck. I suppose today this would be termed LoFi.

Sorry for rambling. Back to the point of the thread. At present, and until if/when we develop true machine/artificial intelligence (whatever that is); I feel that algorithmic composition is more defined by Man than Machine. Perhaps it's a question best left to the philosophers among us.

That said, having recently installed SuperCollider on a laptop, methinks I'll be revisiting this field again.

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bschiett



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:14 am    Post subject: Re: Algorithmic composition - what does everyone think? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
The (mighty) Inspiration thread has been filling up recently with one of my favourite subjects - algorithmic composition. So it seems like a good time to see what everyone makes of this subject - what is it for?

Apologies to any of you whose answer doesn't fit my categories - I'd be really interested to read people's views in more detail anyway!

I'm voting for no. 3 - I enjoy the exercise for its own sake even though I keep having to mess with the algorithm subjectively, and add non-algorithmic content, to get decent music out of it!


interesting - I had the same experience when I was playing with some algorithmic composition tools: you had to fiddle a lot with the parameters to get something out of it. Eventually I realized one of the key things is to start off with snippets of material that you are already familiar with and like, and then use that as starting point for a randomization process... for example, take a sequence you like and combine it with other sequences using some rules...

this is what I ended up eventually doing with improvisor, a generative music app i've been working on the past year and that generates patterns based on patterns you design in the software yourself first. You can learn more about IMPROVISOR at http://bit.ly/n1N1OZ - it's a free download.

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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:07 am    Post subject: Re: Algorithmic composition - what does everyone think? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

bschiett wrote:
I had the same experience when I was playing with some algorithmic composition tools: you had to fiddle a lot with the parameters to get something out of it. Eventually I realized one of the key things is to start off with snippets of material that you are already familiar with and like, and then use that as starting point for a randomization process...


Indeed - I haven't done much music that was completely generated from nothing by the algorithm; normally I write short musical phrases myself and then use the algorithm on them.

I think you're talking about a process where only the start point is known in advance - it's then free to evolve off in any direction. What I tend to do is slightly different - I'll write 2 different sequences that will be used as the start and end points of an algorithmic morphing process lasting a couple of minutes or so... It's goal-driven in the sense that I, as the composer, have inside knowledge of what the end result of the morph is going to be, but when you listen to it, it just drifts gently along in a minimalist kind of way. There's no arrow of time - you could have morphed from A to B or from B to A and the effect would have been pretty much the same. I make a point of this by having a palindrome structure in many of these pieces: the musical material goes off exploring in one direction but eventually comes back to the start, even if at a higher energy level.

As many people won't be surprised to hear, using Tangerine Dream-style sequencer tweaking, where I change the rhythms and emphasis intuitively, has always resulted in morphs that I found more interesting and energetic, than the algorithmic ones. I think that's a shame in a way... I've yet to come up with a morphing algorithm that produces the changes of time signature you can get by imitating an analog sequencer.

bschiett wrote:
this is what I ended up eventually doing with improvisor, a generative music app i've been working on the past year and that generates patterns based on patterns you design in the software yourself first. You can learn more about IMPROVISOR at http://bit.ly/n1N1OZ - it's a free download.


Wow - your Audio Cubes are cool! If anything is going to tempt me out of my totally studio-based musical world, this would be it. It reminds me a little bit of Reactable, but rather than outputting its own audio and having a set of predefined modules this seems to be a much more user-controllable system with lots of freedom to set it up in your own way for your own software/hardware.

Gordon
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bschiett



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Algorithmic composition - what does everyone think? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
bschiett wrote:
I had the same experience when I was playing with some algorithmic composition tools: you had to fiddle a lot with the parameters to get something out of it. Eventually I realized one of the key things is to start off with snippets of material that you are already familiar with and like, and then use that as starting point for a randomization process...


Indeed - I haven't done much music that was completely generated from nothing by the algorithm; normally I write short musical phrases myself and then use the algorithm on them.

I think you're talking about a process where only the start point is known in advance - it's then free to evolve off in any direction. What I tend to do is slightly different - I'll write 2 different sequences that will be used as the start and end points of an algorithmic morphing process lasting a couple of minutes or so... It's goal-driven in the sense that I, as the composer, have inside knowledge of what the end result of the morph is going to be, but when you listen to it, it just drifts gently along in a minimalist kind of way. There's no arrow of time - you could have morphed from A to B or from B to A and the effect would have been pretty much the same. I make a point of this by having a palindrome structure in many of these pieces: the musical material goes off exploring in one direction but eventually comes back to the start, even if at a higher energy level.

As many people won't be surprised to hear, using Tangerine Dream-style sequencer tweaking, where I change the rhythms and emphasis intuitively, has always resulted in morphs that I found more interesting and energetic, than the algorithmic ones. I think that's a shame in a way... I've yet to come up with a morphing algorithm that produces the changes of time signature you can get by imitating an analog sequencer.

bschiett wrote:
this is what I ended up eventually doing with improvisor, a generative music app i've been working on the past year and that generates patterns based on patterns you design in the software yourself first. You can learn more about IMPROVISOR at http://bit.ly/n1N1OZ - it's a free download.


Wow - your Audio Cubes are cool! If anything is going to tempt me out of my totally studio-based musical world, this would be it. It reminds me a little bit of Reactable, but rather than outputting its own audio and having a set of predefined modules this seems to be a much more user-controllable system with lots of freedom to set it up in your own way for your own software/hardware.

Gordon


thanks, glad you like the cubes Smile you should check out improvisor, you can get a free download and the app works even if you don't have the cubes yet.

what you're describing - getting sequences that remind of tangerine dream, for example, is possible using improvisor I think ... because you can enter timing/velocity and pitch patterns seperately and you can let patterns follow each other which means they will add their relative semitone steps to each other ... so the end result is that you get these continuously evolving patterns, but never to far away from what you've entered into the software, but enough away to be interesting...

at least that is what people have been telling me Smile I wish I had more time to play with it myself but working on it is already several fulltime jobs at the same time Smile

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algorithmiccomposer



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PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Algorithmic composition - what does everyone think? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm interested in algorithmic composition, sometimes I use it to generate ideas, or transformations of ideas that I then shape into more fully formed compositions other times I use algorithms to generate the whole composition.

There are few algorithmic composition tutorials here

www.algorithmiccomposer.com
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biotek



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I guess the Markov chain based transition matrix approach is old hat by now, but I recently tried out a new application for it.

http://soundcloud.com/janne808/stochastic-granular-resynthesizer-4

You take a finite amount of grains from some signal and try make the random Markov chain fit the signal using them with a transition matrix derived with those grains. Seems to produce some interesting results.This was done in MATLAB so it's slow. Next step would be a vst plugin perhaps?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:56 am    Post subject: Re: Algorithmic composition - what does everyone think? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
The (mighty) Inspiration thread has been filling up recently with one of my favourite subjects - algorithmic composition. So it seems like a good time to see what everyone makes of this subject - what is it for?

Apologies to any of you whose answer doesn't fit my categories - I'd be really interested to read people's views in more detail anyway!

I'm voting for no. 3 - I enjoy the exercise for its own sake even though I keep having to mess with the algorithm subjectively, and add non-algorithmic content, to get decent music out of it!


UPDATE: What I meant by "mess with the algorithm" was that if it doesn't sound great, the ideal fix would be to keep changing the rules until the algorithm itself gives me something really good, rather than modifying the output by ear. I don't always live up to the ideal though - In my recent slow algorithmic music I've had to fade some of the notes out completely to get through some hairy chord progressions.

My favourite techniques:

For slow/ambient music: using mathematical curves to control note or MIDI controller data. More details here.

For the faster stuff: Sequence morphing: using some system to produce gradual changes in a repeating sequence of notes, given predefined 'start' and 'end' sequences. I've done this by bubblesorting the sequencer steps into a different order, and also by changes of start and end points when playing little bits of a longer sequence, as Tangerine Dream used to do, but not improvised in realtime.

Gordon


Your bubblesorting idea sounds fascinating. Do you have more info on how Tangerine Dream did their live improvisation? I'd love to read more about it.

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bschiett



Joined: Jul 13, 2011
Posts: 66
Location: belgium

PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

GaryRea wrote:
Thanks! Very Happy

Well, getting back on topic, I downloaded and installed the demo of Noatikl (the replacement for Sseyo Koan) last night. Haven't really used it yet, but it looks like fun. I tried just letting it run and got some rather disjointed rhythms, but interesting harmonies from it.

The coolest thing is that it automatically installed itself as both a stand alone and a VSTi, so I can record its output right there in Mixcraft and then add other instrument parts, etc.

I have the use of the demo for a month, then it's $99 to buy. Not bad.

Gary


You might also like Improvisor, check out http://land.percussa.com/audiocubes-improvisor/

It's much more hands on than Noatikl and more focused on working with sequence patterns you already have, and recombining and mixing these in various ways to create semi-algorithmic results.

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