The Analysis of Generative Music Programs

Collins, Nick (2008) The Analysis of Generative Music Programs. Organised Sound, 13 (3). pp. 237-248. ISSN 1355-7718

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Abstract

Composers have spent more than fifty years devising computer programs for the semi-automated production of music. This article shall focus in particular on the case of minimal run-time human intervention, where a program allows the creation of a musical variation, typically unravelling in realtime, on demand. These systems have the capacity to vary their output with each run, often from no more input information than the seeding of a random number generator with the start time. Such artworks are accumulating, released online as downloads, or exhibited through streaming radio sites such as rand()%. Listener/users and composer/designers may wish for deeper insight into these programs' ontological status, mechanisms and creative potential. These works are challenging to dissect; this article makes a tentative start at confronting the unique problems and rich behaviours of computer-program-based generative music, from the social and historical context to the backwards engineering of programs in relation to their sound world. After a discussion of exemplars and definitions of generative art, strategies for analysis are outlined. To provide practical examples, analyses are provided of two small scale works by James McCartney.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Depositing User: Nick Collins
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:18
Last Modified: 31 May 2012 09:24
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/15665
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