Perspectives

This fall I’ve been attending an introductory class in Music Psychology. The field is very intriguing, but as it has been an introductory course we haven’t gotten to dig very deep into the different subjects.

Some of the new subjects that I have had to read about for the course have been interesting enough that I want to list them here. Hopefully it’ll make sense when seen together with my earlier post on algorithmic composition and where to go.

Cognition and musicology. Whether[1] music is an intrinsic result or precondition to having a brain capable of advances speech.

Creativity and computers. Is it possible to simulate or recreate human creativity in a sufficiently advanced computer model. I read an article stipulating that the “human performance” that sets played music apart from digitally created music can be categorised into variations on a set of comparatively few parameters. With a sufficiently intelligent model it could be possible to recreate the effect using VST’s. Also a cognition model through artificial intelligence could maybe learn to produce creativity through random variation and feedback.
Both of these make discussing the social an philosophical implications obvious questions.

Algorithmic composition would need to, at least, simulate creativity to have success as more than a composition tool.

Not a topic from the course, but interesting:
Computer assisted composition, is it creativity in the traditional sense or is it ‘tinkering’, and does it matter either way?

Interesting… (for me at least 😉 )

[1] A google search shows that 2,7 mi entries exist with the words “wether or not” rather than “whether or not” 🙂

Where to go?

Last year I had the opportunity to attend the ICMC2007 in Copenhagen. A lot of different people attended the conference; instrument designers, composers, audiology therapists and of course developers and DSP researchers. The topics presented at the conference were of course broad, to appeal to all these different people and even though a lot of it was very interesting for me, it wasn’t specific to what I want to explore.

So where can I go? I’ve come across a few possibilities, which are the basis of this post.

Also, for a possible application of algorithmically generated music, look at beatsuite.com

Note: Just found out that this post hadn’t been posted but was saved as a draft. Will have to remember to check in the future.

Reproduced performer

In this online article, researchers have acchieved some success reproducing the physics of a clarinettist and a clarinet. They are of course refining the model but they already have a model that allows them to recreate passages of music quite well.

This is interesting even though it is a problem separate from the area I want to pursue. The focus of the article is mainly that music reproduced in this way is very compact compared to e.g. mp3

Journals

It seems like my department hasn’t received the newest edition of the Computer Music Journal, but I had a look in the edition for Winter 2007.

There were a few interesting things.

The introduction mentioned a study into how different intervals sound consonant or dissonant because of the interference patterns that are created in the cochlea.

There was also an interesting article: Paul Nauert, Division- and Addition-Based Models of Rhythm in a Computer Assisted Composition System. Sadly the articles don’t seem to be accessible from the website, but I will have a go later through the Royal Library’s remote connection system. 🙂

Overview

..or maybe just a slightly more detailed first post. This time in English.

In this blog I will try to focus on Computer Music, but what is Computer Music

Computer Music isn’t:
a musical genre (techno, electronica and so on)
DSP (Digital signal processing)

The reason I single these things out, is that these are often what others, at, repectively, the department of Computer Science and Musicology assume. So, what is it then?

For me, Computer Musicis music produced by a computer, with the computer as creator of the music. Typically those who have studied computer music have been one of two. Either Computer Science reserchers looking at implementations of DSP, how to synthesise rythmical paterns and melodic lines or composers who see the algorithms in computer music as a(nother) way of producing original music.

I would like to focus my attention somewhere between the two:

Even though the parameters of the program are set by a person, can they be said to be the creators of the music when the actual score, of not the sounds, are produced by the computer.

When a computer analyses a collection of the music of one composer, for instance through Markovian analysis, it is possible to create fair imitations of that composers music, that are derived solely from recognition of patterns in his works.
If you look at the recognised patterns, do they correspond to the traditional, scholarly recognised characteristic elements of the composers works?

Is it possible to make a computer generate commercially acceptable synthetically scored music in “stereotypical genres” like in game background music for MMORPGs. MMORPGs, and traditional computer RPGs usually use the in game music to reflect the game characters situation in respect to the game environment. For instance there is music for “walking in the forest”, “walking in town”, “combat”. These of course vary in quality from game to game, but they are always pre-scored. This leads to two problems; When the game character’s environment changes, e.g. the character is waking in the forest and is attacked, the music abruptly changes from one type to the other, and if the game is playd for a long time, the music can become repetetive.
Algorithmically composed music could assure that the music never repeats. It could be possible to create models of “forest” and “combat” music and, instead of changing from one to the other, allow the forest music to be influenced by the combat model as the game character moves into danger. This would also create a different model mixture depending on the setting.

This post has gone from trying to define my view of Computer Music to presenting a couple of examples. I’ll have to come back and explain some of the terms i used, like Markov analysis and algorithmic composition, but that’ll have to be some other time.

Feel free to comment if you’ve read this. I’m mostly writing this blog to collect my own thoughts on this, but it would be nice if anyone else finds it interesting.