Generative music

Generative music

Generative music is a term popularized by Brian Eno to describe music that is ever-different and changing, and that is created by a system.


There are four primary perspectives on Generative Music (Wooller, R., 2005)(reproduced with permission):


music composed from analytic theories that are so explicit as to be able to generate structurally coherent material (Loy and Abbott 1985; Cope 1991). This perspective has its roots in the generative grammars of language (Chomsky 1956) and music (Lerdahl and Jackendoff 1983), which generate material with a recursive tree structure.


music generated by a system component that ostensibly has no inputs. That is, 'not transformational' (Rowe 1991; Lippe 1997:34; Winkler 1998). Brian Eno's [ "Generative Music 1"] is an example of this.


music generated by processes that are designed and/or initiated by the composer. Steve Reich's "Its gonna rain" and Terry Riley's "In C" are examples of this (Eno 1996).


non-deterministic music (Biles 2002), or music that cannot be repeated, for example, ordinary wind chimes (Dorin 2001). This perspective comes from the broader generative art movement. This revolves around the idea that music, or sounds may be 'generated' by a musician 'farming' parameters within an ecology, such that the ecology will perpetually produce different variation based on the parameters and algorithms used Fact|date=February 2007.


Many software programs have been written to create generative music, including:
* [ Intermorphic's Noatikl] 2007-present. Noatikl was launched in 2007 as as a replacement for the no-longer-available Koan.
* [ SSEYO] Koan Pro (1994-2007), used by Brian Eno to create his hybrid album ' [ Generative Music 1'] . intermorphic acquired the Koan technology in 2008. Noatikl is described by Intermorphic as "The Evolution of Koan".
* Karlheinz Essl's sound environments [ fLOW] (1998-2004)
* [ SEELEWASCHEN] (2004)
* [ MusiGenesis] (2005), a program that evolves music.
* Lauri Gröhn has developed [ Synesthesia] software that generates music (midi file) from any photos in a few seconds.
* The [ madplayer] uses generative techniques to create electronic music, as does [ LEMu (Live Electronic Music)] .
* Many algorithmic music projects are also considered to be generative (see [] for some of them).
* Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers [] have developed a generative music iPhone application Bloom (see [] ).


[ Intermorphic's Noatikl] is described by Intermorphic as being a "trans-generative" music engine that allows control to come both from a variety of sources:
* purely internal (left to freewheel)
* the user may interact with the engine via a user interface
* from external MIDI input (both to harmonize with incoming note events, or to respond in complex ways to MIDI controller events)
* from internal Lua scripts (which can respond for example to time-of-date or in a complex way according to MIDI input events or events generated within the Noatikl engine).

Other Notes

* Brian Eno, who coined the term 'Generative Music', has used generative techniques on many of his works, starting with "Discreet Music" (1975) up to and including (according to Sound on Sound Oct 2005) his latest album 'Another Day on Earth'. His works, lectures, and interviews on the subject have done much to promote generative music in the avant-garde music community. Eno used SSEYO's Koan generative music system (created by Pete Cole and Tim Cole of [ intermorphic] ), to create his hybrid album [ "Generative Music 1"] (published by SSEYO and Opal Arts in April 1996), which is probably his first public use of the term "Generative Music".

* Lerdahl and Jackendoff's publication described a generative grammar for homophonic tonal music, based partially on a Schenkerian model. While originally intended for analysis, significant research into automation of this process in software is being carried out by [ Keiji Hirata and others] .

* In "Its gonna rain", overlapping tape loops of the spoken phrase "it's gonna rain" are played at slightly different speeds, generating different patterns through phasing.

See also

* Computer-generated music
* Algorithmic composition
* Interactive music
* Koan


*Biles, A. 2002a. GenJam in Transition: from Genetic Jammer to Generative Jammer. In International Conference on Generative Art, Milan, Italy.
*Chomsky, N. 1956. Three models for the description of language. IRE Transcripts on Information Theory, 2: 113-124.
*Cope, D. 1991. Computers and musical style. Madison, Wis.: A-R Editions.
*Dorin, A. 2001. Generative processes and the electronic arts. Organised Sound, 6 (1): 47-53.
*Eno, B. 1996. Generative Music. (accessed 27 July 2005).
*Essl, K. 2002. Generative Music. (accessed 16 August 2006).
*Intermorphic Limited [ History of Noatikl, Koan and SSEYO]
*Lerdahl, F. and R. Jackendoff. 1982. A generative theory of tonal music. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
*Lippe, C. 1997. Music for piano and computer: A description. Information Processing Society of Japa SIG Notes, 97 (122): 33-38.
*Loy, G. and C. Abbott. 1985. Programming languages for computer music synthesis, performance and composition. ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR), 17 (2): 235-265.
*Rowe, R. 1991. Machine Learning and Composing: Making Sense of Music with Cooperating Real-Time Agents. Thesis from Media Lab. Mass.: MIT.
*Winkler, T. 1998. Composing Interactive Music. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
*Wooller, R., "et al." A framework for comparing algorithmic music systems. in Symposium on Generative Arts Practice (GAP). 2005. University of Western Sydney.

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