Because the field of "computer music" is so broad as to be almost silly as a definite label, we decided awhile ago to make this seminar a topic-oriented seminar. Each year we sit and think of yet another FUN FUN topic in "computer music" that we can teach, and this year we've decided to revisit an area that has brought joy to many through the ages: algorithmic composition. What is algorithmic composition? Do we coerce some guy named Alfred to "go" with his bizarre and fascinating internal sense of rhythm and transcribe the results as a new piece? No no no no NO!
Algorithmic composition is a catch-all term describing a range of computing techniques applied to the generation of music; techniques used to construct pitch, timbre, rhythm (go Al, go!), structure -- the whole range of usual musical suspects. Our challenge this year will be to try to come up with new ways of mapping from algorithms -------> music, hopefully sparking interest in at least a few of these digital approaches among participants in the seminar.
We'll be looking at methodologies ranging from simple probability and control-branching strategies to neural nets and artifical-life simulations, hitting some of the hallowed algo-music procedures (stochastics, markov chains, fractals, strange attractors, etc.) along the way. One of the choices we had to make was the level at which we focus this class. Because algorithmic composition is nearly an entire field-unto-itself at present (and a relatively mature one, technologically considered), a number of turnkey applications exist for crafting algorithmic music. We will be showing a few of these, but we will be aiming more at generalized techniques as they are implemented in a range of different music-programming environments. Don't be concerned, however, this is not intended to be a programming class. We're more interested in communicating the concepts underlying the RTcmix or LISP or Max/MSP or Supercollider code-patches we present. We'll also have plenty of resources available (i.e. people to help!) if you do start floundering with code. In addition, we'll also be looking at several 'mid-level' coding environments that facilitate algorithmic composition approaches. These can be very useful for exploring the wild and wooly algo-comp world.
we'll have a several special guest-stars coming into the
class as the term progresses. Stay tuned for partciular info
about them. They will be listed on the
as soon as things get set.
Here are a few links to software that we probably will be using in class:
Please let us know if you are having problems getting equipment or
software apps to work for you. In general, if you are having difficulty
understanding the programming paradigms
we are using or the applications and information we are covering,
be sure to talk to us. We'll be happy to sit down and work through
any issues with you.
Each week we do will become a link to information relating to that
class. We'll try to keep up with linking in class patches, examples
and information, but we may fall behind. Yell at us when we do.
Last year we began holding general lab/hack sessions for all CMC classes on Tuesday afternoons. These sessions proved to be very valuable, so we'll be doing them again this term. If you're having troubles with anything in the class, or you'd like to discuss possible approaches for a project, or you'd just like to hang out with a bunch of excellent and interesting people, cruise on down here on Tuesdays before class. The official time for these sessions at present is 4 PM -- 5 PM, but we'll be here pretty much the whole afternoon.
It's always a good idea to make an appointment to see me, even during my purported office hours, because I often have to run around campus like a maniac doing strange, computer-music stuff. If you need to contact someone at the CMC or Music Department using your actual voice, the relevant phone numbers are:
I say this every year, and generally people believe it (I think): by this point in your career the last thing you should be worrying about is a grade. The main thing is to find something that you'd really like to do and then do it. Please don't try to impress us with your consummate knowledge and skill, we are more impressed by people who do things. Honest!
Hope you enjoy the class!