Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad) End Stage Fright
End Stage Fright
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#654937 - 05/07/02 05:11 PM Algorithmic composition
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1500
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Douglas Hofstadter, in his excellent book, "Godel,Esher,Bach", stated that in his opinion music meaningful to humans in any deep sense would not be composed by computers for a very long time. This acted as a spur to me because I doubted itís truth and still do. The Amiga was ideal for this sort of thing because of ease of programming and the then standard MED file format. I chose the fugue because I didnít have any emotional affinity for Bachís music but had the scores of the 48 handy. I could therefore examine the music objectively in much the same way as a scientist examines a crystal or some other natural manifestation, looking for patterns. I avoided reading all conventional analyses of fugues.

To cut a long story short, the programme, only a few hundred lines long, produced four voice fugues on short melodic strands which were either keyed in or generated by the programme itself. I can go into a lot of technical detail if anybody wants it (it's really very simple) but the results were as follows.

About seventy percent of fugues were unremarkable and sometimes tedious. Of the remainder, most were pleasant but lacked areas of intellectual or emotional interest. However, about one in every fifty was attractive, emotionally and intellectually stimulating and when tried on various listeners, gave them a distinct impression that there had been a human being involved. Now before the arguments start, let me say that none of them sounded like Bach; precise stylistic imitation was never my intention; I just used the 48 as a starting point. As far as I was concerned I had proved something to myself and I let the exercise drop. Better musical and programming brains than mine will come along and do it any time now - that was all I wanted to know - it CAN be done.
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

Top
#654938 - 05/13/02 10:07 PM Re: Algorithmic composition
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
Yes, Ted, it probably can be done, but my reply for a long time has been, "So what?" There was an article in the NYTimes a few years ago about someone who had written a program that "could compose" the headline stated. I thought it was mostly hype.

We are human beings and need meaning in our lives. What does it mean to hear a piece of music "composed" (I use the word very loosely here) by a computer program? First question is "did the computer program compose it?" I would argue that the programmer composed it. Computers do nothing, nada, zilch, naught without a human being telling it what rules to follow. So, to me, it means very little--give a computer enough rules, given the speed at which they operate, they might accidently produce something that is pleasing to us.

Did the program (notice I don't use the word computer; computers are piles of metal, plastic, silicon and other materials) know which concoctions it produced were the good ones?
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

Top
#654939 - 05/14/02 11:38 PM Re: Algorithmic composition
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1500
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Bernard:

Thank you for your thoughts; if I may jump around among your various questions...

Computers do nothing, nada, zilch, naught without a human being telling it what rules to follow[/b]

While this is obviously true in the purely mechanistic sense, even a simple set of rules can give rise to infinitely evolving and varied behaviour, for example mathematical chaos, which is not possible for the writer of the rules to foresee. In one sense the writer could be thought of as creator, but in another sense not, because the created objects are a part of the algorithm and are not directly conceived by him.

Did the program (notice I don't use the word computer; computers are piles of metal, plastic, silicon and other materials) know which concoctions it produced were the good ones?[/b]

No, but as we repeatedly see on the forum, "goodness" in music depends on who's listening. What I found out though was that I wouldn't have any problems tweaking the code to produce 50% or even 80% of pieces suiting my own "goodness" criteria. Others would tweak it differently; parameters could be entered so anybody could tweak it as desired.

So what? [/b]

Well, I find it pleasurable to be deeply surprised by programmes I have written - in much the same way as I like to be surprised and transported by my own piano improvisation. For me that's what programming (and music) is all about. I wrote another one to produce moving algebraic patterns (visual music ?) and found its effect fascinating.

We are human beings and need meaning in our lives. What does it mean to hear a piece of music "composed" (I use the word very loosely here) by a computer program? [/b]

It means we respond to it in precisely the same way as we would respond to a human composition - no difference that I can see.
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

Top
#654940 - 05/15/02 07:49 AM Re: Algorithmic composition
Piano World Offline


Registered: 05/24/01
Posts: 5527
Loc: Parsonsfield, ME (originally N...
As a programmer and musician myself, I can understand what Ted is saying here.

My programming background is limited to web related languages, so I appreciate the skills needed to "compose" a program that can compose music. The programmer not only needs to know how to write code, but also needs to understand all the nuances of composing music.

Most of the time I prefer to play straight piano music, but some times I'm in the mood to play with the synthesizer, precisely because of what the "computer" can add, and because of the occasional surprise that leads me to play with sounds/harmonies I might never have thought of.

Do I prefer human compositions? Yes, mostly.
But I'm sometimes pleasantly surprised but what comes out of a "machine".

Frank B.
Piano World
_________________________
- Frank B.
Founder / Host
www.PianoWorld.com
www.PianoSupplies.com
Find Us On:
Facebook.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Twitter.com/PianoWorld
www.youtube.com/PianoWorldDotCom
Skype: PianoWorldDotCom
Estonia L-190, Yamaha P-80, Hammond XK-3, Hammond A-100, Estey 1895 Pump Organ
-------------------------
It's Fun To Play the Piano ... PLEASE Pass It On!
And please invite everyone you know to join our piano forums!

Top
#654941 - 05/15/02 06:15 PM Re: Algorithmic composition
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
I would prefer to let computers do what they are good at doing. There are some compositional tasks they do well. Generating and cataloging variations systemetically on a given set of tones (or theme) is something composers occasionally need to do, and computers do this well. Nicolas S. Slonymsky, in his "Thesarus of Scales and Melodic Patterns" did this manually for different interval combinations. The resulting work was used by many 20th century composers, including Schoenberg. It's an interesting book if you can overlook his needlessly complicated terminology.

However, tasks such as adding meaning, inspiration and feeling to a theme is something best left to humans at this point in our technical evolution.

Top
#654942 - 05/15/02 07:16 PM Re: Algorithmic composition
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
 Quote:
We are human beings and need meaning in our lives. What does it mean to hear a piece of music "composed" (I use the word very loosely here) by a computer program?

It means we respond to it in precisely the same way as we would respond to a human composition - no difference that I can see.
Here's where we will differ. I would definately listen to a piece of "computer" music differently. That doesn't mean I'll necessarily find it unpleasing, I may well like it. In fact there is quite a bit of "human" music (mostly atonal stuff) that I find very unpleasant, and there's the type of stuff by people like John Cage and Lori Anderson which as far as I'm concerned might as well have been written by a computer.

But if I know I'm listening to a composition written by a human I will search it for meaning, I will try to discern where the composer is coming from; I will strive to recognize it's humanity. I won't do this if I know I'm listening to a piece of "computer" music because I know that computer music is always accidental.

Of course it's very interesting because sometimes we listen to a great piece of music written by a human and find that it means to us something completely different than what the composer had in mind while writing it. I'm sure I could listen to a "computer" piece and project meaning into it but it wouldn't mean the same to me.

And still... I doubt a masterpiece will ever spew forth from the silicon bowels of a computer.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

Top
#654943 - 05/15/02 10:13 PM Re: Algorithmic composition
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1500
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Bernard:

I was basing my statement on the assumption that the listener does not know the origin of the piece - a sort of musical Turing test. Were I to know in advance that a computer had generated it then yes, I agree with you, I probably would put a different slant on things.

T2:

That's exactly right. With fugues, thousands of placings of a phrase can be tested to see where it fits in to optimise a particular harmonic or rhythmic strategy - that's exactly what I did, more or less, and it worked a treat. All I did was to allocate more points for desirable things and fewer for undesirable ones (what is desirable can itself vary, of course)and test millions of possibilities for a maximum point total. Sounds crude but it produced very flowing counterpoint, with patches of what I am forced to call "inspiration".
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

Top
#654944 - 05/19/02 01:24 AM Re: Algorithmic composition
Anonymous
Unregistered


I have no doubts that a computer can develop some types of "classical" music that might be pleasing to the ear and perhaps engender similar reactions, but I question whether it can replace the human element in other forms of compostion.

Fugues, being little more than variations of a single motif, is perhaps the easiest for a computer to do. However, one wonders how many would survive the test of time. I suspect there were thousands of fugues written in the High Baroque which we no little about because they simply were not good enough to be passed on.

However, with the invention of the piano and with the intense human feeling and composer written nuances that entered into music during the classical Period and extends into today, one wonders if a computer could really replicate such music in any satisfactory manner -- or would it simply give us notes that go together.

Top
#654945 - 05/19/02 07:56 PM Re: Algorithmic composition
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1500
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
George:

I take the same simplistic approach to music written by people as I do to that generated by computers. Musical sound generates responses in my brain which depend on a huge melting pot of influences. As I get older it seems that these responses depend more on what occurs in my brain than what exists intrinsically in the music.

As a child one is taught that music imposes prescribed images on human brains. Nowadays I tend to think that brains impose character on what they hear. Thus for Angela Hewitt, according to her liner notes,the Bach fugue in C# minor has deep religious significance because Bach was religious and four of the notes resemble a cross on its side. I am not at all religious, therefore this mode of feeling is nonsense to me, and indeed may actively detract from my enjoyment of the work. If, on the other hand, my mind seeks and finds other aesthetic programmes, I can enjoy the piece as fully as the next man.

As another example, I cannot associate with the idea of a galloping horse in Liszt's Mazeppa or with hell and demons in his Wild Chase because I've never had anything to do with horses or hunting and the whole artistic programme seems remote, overblown, and irrelevant. However, I can readily form associations with many things in my own modern sphere of influence, and thus I can enjoy playing these pieces.

The essence of music to me is its associated complete freedom of thought. One can be utterly free and utterly mad without consequence. So when I listen to algorithmic music, which by definition possesses no fixed human idea, I perceive no difference from what takes place when I listen to Chopin or Scott Joplin.

How do most people listen ? Perhaps others do it differently to me - I don't know - it's not something I've discussed a lot.
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

Top
#654946 - 05/22/02 03:31 PM Re: Algorithmic composition
Anonymous
Unregistered


Ted

I like your way of listening and enjoying by just allowing the music to flow over and through you, creating whatever response it creates. Much like meditation. A good thing.

I am also glad to hear there are others who have real trouble with a composer attempting to paint a defined picture with his music. I too find it hard to envision anything real concrete in music, even when I am told that this is what the composer wanted to do.

At the same time, I find that if I have some understanding of the purpose of the composer's music, it adds to my enjoyment and satisfaction. Knowing about Bach's intense religious convictions and his belief that all music is a religious expression adds significantly to my enjoyment of his music because I am able to shift myself to that same mode.

But if I do not have much or any knowledge about a composer or his purpose in writing a piece, i will do much as you -- just sit back and allow the music to take me wherever it does. What I always find interesting is that often the same piece of music may take me different places each time I listen to it -- the mark, I think, of the composer-artist as opposed to the composer-tradesman.

Top

What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
Download & Print Sheet Music Instantly
sheet music search
sheet music search

sheet music search
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
161 registered (acortot, adanepst, 36251, 44 invisible), 1715 Guests and 49 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
74206 Members
42 Forums
153498 Topics
2249355 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Troubleshooting the Gravity Drop/Weight Transfer etc.
by bledredwine
04/16/14 11:16 AM
Stories in SoundBook 2 Valerie Roth Roubos
by DameMyra
04/16/14 10:48 AM
Teaching memorization
by clarikeys
04/16/14 07:45 AM
Accepted Procedure for Having a Piano Tech look at a piano?
by Paul678
04/16/14 07:19 AM
Tips for playing a piece through
by Hemmingway
04/16/14 06:40 AM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission