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An Experiment in A New Kind of Music

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the good-way-to-spend-a-few-hours dept.

Math 282

waynegoode writes "Stephen Wolfram's Wolfram Research has produced an new application: WolframTones-- 'An Experiment in A New Kind of Music'. It combines the principles in Stephen's book, 'A New Kind of Science' and Mathematica to 'instantly create unique music' in many different styles. They describe it as pretty neat as well as being scientifically interesting, and useful. After listening to some compositions and creating a few random ones myself, I must agree that it is. And anyone who has listen to the radio the last few years could certainly use some unique music."

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fp (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524926)


coolio julio (0, Redundant)

JorgeDeLaCancha (913036) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524929)

this sounds rather interesting. hopefully its not a complety failure(in terms of actually being music) like that computer created holiday songs.

Re:coolio julio (1)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524995)

this sounds rather interesting

The description sounds rather interesting but the music itself sounds like a random collection of hobbled together sounds.

I wouldn't call them compositions, but then they're no worse than what's on the radio.

Re:coolio julio (1)

torrentperson (913811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525081)

what's on the radio

You have a torrent?

Re:coolio julio (1)

nihaopaul (782885) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525142)

fuck yeah: DjUR8sf62hPQzn4AkqAZijHtjNlW [] can i copyright this so i can sue you all for listening to it without paying me? or does this fella own all the material generated? but anyway now i can put it onto flash sites without getting in trouble.

Re: Wolfram (5, Insightful)

Sartak (589317) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524931)

I wouldn't trust anything Wolfram says about his creations. He has a tendency to toot his own horn. Constantly. If you've read A New Kind of Science you know exactly what I'm getting at.

Re: Wolfram (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524945)

Anything specific you can mention? Of course not.

Your post sounds like jealously of an obviously talented genious.

Re: Wolfram (2, Insightful)

Sartak (589317) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524948)

Read the section of ANKoS about the applications of cellular automata. It reads like, "I am the smartest man alive and cellular automata will change the way humans live forever."

Re: Wolfram (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524953)

Quote the text. Don't give us your interpetation of something you don't like just becuase it went over your head in terms of technical detail or complexity.

Re: Wolfram (1)

Sartak (589317) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524967)

I'm afraid I don't have the book with me right now. Besides, it's approximately ten pages and the book is large.

And I never said anything about it being over my head. I'm talking about Wolfram coming off as if he's Jesus. I'm not the only one who has drawn this conclusion. Now begone.

Re: Wolfram (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524971)

You can't quote what he said that offended you so much, so your statement is utterly and totally bogus for the point of argument.

Your type of response is a typical example of sophomoric knee-jerk reactions from people who totally have no clue about whatever it is they are criticising.

Begone, troll.

Re: Wolfram (5, Informative)

Sartak (589317) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525012)

On pages 7-10:

Physics: "In the future of physics the greatest triumph would undoubtedly be to find a truly fundamental theory for our whole universe. Yet despite occasional optimism, traditional approaches do not make this seem close at hand. But with the methods and intuition I develop in this book there is I believe finally a serious possibility that such a theory can actually be found."

Social Sciences: "...I suspect that one will often have a much better chance of capturing fundamental mechanisms for phenomena in the social sciences by using instead the new kind of science that I develop in this book based on simple programs."

Computer Science: "One consequence [of this book's material] is a dramatic broadening of the domain to which computational ideas can be applied--in particular to include all sorts of fundamental questions about nature and about mathematics."

Philosophy: "But my discoveries in this book lead to radically new intuition. And with this intuition it turns out that one can for the first time began to see resolutions to many longstanding issues..."

There's plenty more where this came from.

Re: Wolfram (5, Funny)

slavetrade55 (444917) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525060)


Re: Wolfram (1)

Madd Scientist (894040) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525105)

i feel the same way about all my theories... maybe this guy is on to something....

Re: Wolfram (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525158)

The quickest way to turn people off about your theories is to act all hubris. While it's one thing to be confident, it's quite another to act like "my shit doesn't stink"

Maybe Wolfram should take some of his own advice about intuition in regards to how to present information to the public.

Re: Wolfram (1)

greylingrover (876207) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525086)

My "intuition" after listening to a few of these is that it's an interesting experiment, but please, please people... don't use this music in a production that the general public might ever have to listen to. Create your own ringtone. Listen to your creations in your own home. Listen with headphones on your mp3 player. But DON'T put this drivel in a media production or game. Yuk!

Re: Wolfram (1)

Sartak (589317) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524975)

Start here and browse. []

In closing I have nothing against the work Wolfram has done. It's the way he treats it that irks me.

Re: Wolfram (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525090)

Your post sounds like jealously of an obviously talented genious.

If you want to assert that you know genius, it would probably be a good first step to spell the word correctly.

Re: Wolfram (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525157)

Quite frankly, RTFA. I got sick of his own horn tooting on that site. You'd think that he was the only person that had anything to do with chaos theory and emergent behaviour; although he doesn't use those terms it seems.

"It's a rather direct consequence of a core phenomenon of Stephen Wolfram's science: that programs with very simple underlying rules can generate great complexity of behavior." l []

His science? Please.

The New Wolfram Cosmo (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524952)

Copernicus debunked: The universe actually revolves around Stephen Wolfram's ass.

Re: Wolfram (5, Insightful)

ct.smith (80232) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524969)

I have to second this opinions. I couldn't find any sort of reference or acknowledgement to previous work on the subject.

Of course, I have a slight bias on the topic as my supervisor did something similar back in 1986.

(P. Prusinkiewicz, Score Generation with L-Systems, International Computer
Music Conference 86 Proceedings, 1986, pp. 455-457.)

Re: Wolfram (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525175)

If we take a simple program, say cellular automata, and use a cluster of computers running Mathematica to generate stunning images and music, we can really speculate on about any imaginable topic! Really!

That being said, even though somewhat redundant, the book is still in my opinion a good reading and provides very interesting intuition and insights about how to deal with traditional problems.

Re: Wolfram (5, Insightful)

Frostalicious (657235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525190)

ANKOS would be pretty good with just a few changes:

Reduce page count from 1200 to 400 by removing redundant and self aggrandizing material.

Retract claims that Wolfram is singlehandedly going to change the course of human history.

Choose a title more suitable to the seriousness of the book. Perhaps "An Introduction to Cellular Automata" or "Fun With Graph Paper"

Zamyatkin's We (5, Informative)

silvergoose (807387) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524936)

Anyone else read Zamyatkin's We?

Scary, scary idea. A paraphrase from it: 'Composition was once a sort of trance where slightly insane people wrote music down feverishly. Our way, based on mathematics, is much better. Regular, based on curves and graphs.'

Re:Zamyatkin's We (2, Interesting)

starwed (735423) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525029)

Composition was once a sort of trance where slightly insane people wrote music down feverishly

Hmm, ever heard of counterpoint? ^_^

Anyway, one of the merits of music lies in how it provokes reactions in us. When you look at a beautiful natural landscape, does it bother you that it wasn't generated by a concious creative process? Or do you just enjoy the beauty?

Music generated from algorithms could ultimately be analogous. It might not be "art", but it could still be beautiful... with the beauty arising from the same simple, natural, relationships which underly a lot of how the world works.

Re:Zamyatkin's We (1)

silvergoose (807387) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525063)

Oh, I know it can be beautiful. But if you've read the book, it's just chilling. Independent thought is not even frowned upon, it's unheard of. Just that sort of book.

Re:Zamyatkin's We (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525121)

Sounds like here in Japan!

Too bad it requires QuickTime (1, Offtopic)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524942)

It looks pretty neat, but I can't play it because it requires QuickTime. Personal prejudice, I know, but both QT and Real have proven to me in the past that they aren't willing to work and play nicely with others.

Does anyone have a sample saved in wav or mp3 format?

Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525005)

I downloaded QuickTime and still couldn't get it to work in firefox. Looks like it is trying to play midi file... any ideas how to get this to work? (other than load up ie)

Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525006)

For some reason IE doesn't require quicktime...

Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525023)

Try downloading the sounds. (And possibly convert them...)

Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (1, Offtopic)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525026)

I'm on a Mac, and I can't play it because my Mozilla-based browser (Camino) is recognized as IE, and because it defaults to "Sorry, go download mozilla if you want to see this." First, I am using mozilla, but I'm too lazy to find the text file I'm supposed to edit with my browser definition (it's much easier to bitch about it on slashdot you know). Second, I think this kind of thing is imperialistic whether it comes from the IE side or the mozilla side. There should at least be a "try anyway" button to click; it's not like trying it with IE will crash your machine. But it's especially frustrating when you have the tools that are allowed and it still kicks you out. Sure, I could find my textfile and change it to say Mozilla (though I thought that was what it said anyway), but I don't want to listen to computer generated music badly enough to go through the trouble.

That's it; I'm going to Moe's!

Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525168)

I'm on a Mac

It works with Safari.


Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (1)

wootest (694923) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525208)

While that may be true, browser sniffing for no reason is still evil.

Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525241)

doesn't bl00dy work with Firefox 1.0.6 on Linux... keeps moaning about a missing plugin when pressing the "play" button and then when I click the Install Missing Plugins button... nada... it can't find a plugin... Opera 8.02 and Konq don't work either... I'm pissed off with this ridiculous platform dependency... especially as it's supposed to be a platform agnostic internet...

Re:Too bad it requires QuickTime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525242)

I started to play discovered it needed quicktime, i left, never to return.

QT - is such a pain.

Just what we need. (5, Funny)

megrims (839585) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524944)

More unique (and irritating) ringtones!

Re:Just what we need. (2, Funny)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525125)

Yeah, but atleast it doesn't have a tiny penis, look like a frog and go broom broom. Trust me, this is better.

Unique != Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524954)

I'm sorry but as neat as this application is the quality of music is horrible.

As someone that creates music all day long I know that computers will never be able to create music that rivals human made music.

Play around with the application a little and you'll agree with me.

Oh Boy (5, Funny)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524955)

Kraftwerk is gonna be pissed.

aHAhahahah!! ur so funneyy!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525087)


Re:aHAhahahah!! ur so funneyy!! (1)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525196)


Thanks Wayne. Where's Garth?

Re:Oh Boy (1)

Basehart (633304) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525240)

If you really listen to Krafterk you'd be amazed how un-robotic those guys really are.

All right overall (3, Informative)

The Madd Rapper (886657) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524957)

These sound like video game stage music. Maybe it's just the MIDI. But I don't know; I could envision an RPG or Megaman or fighting game to every tone it generated. Maybe someone's job just got a lot easier.

Re:All right overall (2, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524978)

The best thing about music generation software is the potential to automate. Being able to generation thousands of random tracks while you sleep must be a real plus. Like having an artist that never sleeps (or overdose). Eventually some of them would have to sound as good as Megaman tracks.

Re:All right overall (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525124)

Eventually some of them would have to sound as good as Megaman tracks.

I'd be impressed by that feat. I've always been really fond of the music in most Capcom games (with the notable exception of Street Fighter 3, which blows goat cheese).

Anyway, I managed to get this thing to spew out a few really surprisingly good tunes, but just the same they would only make for a good groundwork for musical ideas. In the 30 seconds the tunes tend to last, it never really sounds like the song ever actually begins.

Re:All right overall (4, Informative)

earnest murderer (888716) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525040)

Agreed, windows ships with such a lousy synth and samples it's near impossible for midi files to sound anything like music. There are pleanty of freely available samples ( [] - should help considerably) and you can find something that will improve the experience considerably.

New? (2, Informative)

opencity (582224) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524962)

I listened to the first few and, at best, they sound like something you'd skip over on a CZ101. Perhaps I should read the hype before commenting but elevator-electronic music has been around since ... [insert Moog (RIP) ref here].

Without anything approaching Steve Reich or any of the techno programmers of the last 20 or so years I don't see why this is interesting. They already have computers that can write music (see: Babyface)

Re:New? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524973)

"They already have computers that can write music (see: Babyface)"

I googled for this 'Babyface' computer that writes music but I could not find it. It doesn't seem to be a software package either.

There was this one fellow named 'Babyface'... If he's a computer then robotic technologies have advanced quite a lot since I last studied them....

I got sucked in to the Tones man! (0, Offtopic)

RentonSentinel (906700) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524970)

I forgot to come back and post... until just now...

Thats badass...

How long before the trademarks come out? (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524972)

Remember the fiasco over the "for dummies" trademarks?

How long before Wolfram & Co. trademarks "A new kind of ________"?

Stupid that such a dumb though also bears legitimacy...

Re:How long before the trademarks come out? (3, Funny)

efuseekay (138418) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525075)

I will get interested if they come up with "A New Kind of Sex".

Now, that's something I'll pay to read/watch/partake....

  unless of course we have Wolfram himself as main actor.

A new kind of crap (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524981)

This is crap, not music. I could make better music by repeatedly smashing your face into a piano.

Kill Ugly Radio - Frank Zappa (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13524984)

      A doctor, an architect, and a computer scientist were arguing about
whose profession was the oldest. In the course of their arguments, they
got all the way back to the Garden of Eden, whereupon the doctor said, "The
medical profession is clearly the oldest, because Eve was made from Adam's
rib, as the story goes, and that was a simply incredible surgical feat."
        The architect did not agree. He said, "But if you look at the Garden
itself, in the beginning there was chaos and void, and out of that the Garden
and the world were created. So God must have been an architect."
        The computer scientist, who'd listened carefully to all of this, then
commented, "Yes, but where do you think the chaos came from?"

Ah...Sorry. (5, Funny)

joetheappleguy (865543) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524988)

I'm going back to the radio. I can just fire up an old Nintendo to get this kind of "music"

Don't insult Nintendo... (4, Funny)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525070)

I haven't touched one in years, and I still catch myself humming the most random Nintendo tunes.

I don't know which is worse - still being able to hum the tune during the "Game Over" screen from Super Mario Brothers 2, or still knowing that the tune is from SMB2.

Someone needs to invent a miracle pill that clears all this garbage out of our brains, so we can work on a cure for cancer or something else important with the newly-freed space.

Re:Don't insult Nintendo... (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525206)

Stay right away from the video game pianist [] then!

This would be great for games (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 9 years ago | (#13524993)

I'd like to see a game that licenses this thing.

This sounds awfully familiar. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525000)

"I staggered back in the dark, without the means of striking a light, crashing against the table, overturning a chair, and finally groping my way to the place where the blackness screamed with shocking music. To save myself and Erich Zann I could at least try, whatever the powers opposed to me. Once I thought some chill thing brushed me, and I screamed, but my scream could not be heard above that hideous viol. Suddenly out of the blackness the madly sawing bow struck me, and I knew I was close to the player. I felt ahead, touched the back of Zann's chair, and then found and shook his shoulder in an effort to bring him to his senses." --H.P. Lovecraft, The Music of Erich Zann

Metamath music (4, Interesting)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525002)

Another thing to look at is Metamath music [] , which is interesting in a different way. It is the raw, unadorned piano music generated directly by mathematical proofs, very faithful to the actual mathematics.

Re:Metamath music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525076)

Hey, that was pretty cool. I really found it interesting how the axiom of Choice Equivalent sounded like the beginning of "The Entertainer." All the equations seemed to be using the same (catchy) rhythm, though. I wonder if we could create an advanced algorithm to coordinate rhythms with note patterns. Anyway, it sounded better than the WolframTones.

Owwww my ears... (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525014)

It sounds like it's picking a few chords in a key, and then playing notes from them over and over in various random patterns. It's not going to sound bad, exactly, but it's not going to sound good, either. Seriously, go find a piano, and play nothing but C, G, A, and E notes. It's nothing that'll make you wince...the notes will never clash with each other, but that doesn't make it pleasant music.

Sheet Music? (1)

oncehour (744756) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525016)

This is a pretty neat concept, especially applicable to video games or other things that use MIDIs at the moment. However how easy would it be to get sheet music of this randomly generated music, or of a similar software so that people could test it out with real instruments.

The music from what I've heard has a lot of potential especially if it's got a human with musical knowledge to properly mix it. Are there any other mathematical driven music generators out there?

Experiment? Or pseudo-science? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525022)

If Wolfram's confection is indeed an experiment, then it ought to have a falsifiable hypothesis.
Show us the evidence that Wolfram's concoction involves any kind of "experiment."

Crackpots have been churning out music using mathematics for well over 50 years -- but none of this can be described as any kind of "science" or any sort of "experiment." Science involves falsifiable hypotheses...generating music with math involves touchy-feely squishy fuzzy "I like it" or "I don't like it" unfalsifiable subjective personal reactions.

Go ahead. Objectively prove via double blind falsifiable repeatable scientific experiment that a piece of music is good.

You can't. No one can. As Laurent Fichet showed in his 1996 book "Scientific Theories of Music the 19th and 20th Century," every allegedly scientific theory of music over the past 200 years falls apart on examination. It's all vacuous twaddle, nothing more than acoustic gematria. "Mathematical theories of music, based on acoustics, consistently contradict the practice of musicians." -- Paul Hindemith, 1947

Music is an art, not a science. Efforts to scientize the arts are as futile as efforts to mathematically predict the stock market (as the Nobel-induced collapse of Long Term Capital Management proved in 1997). Wolfram is here practicing pseudo-science, and has fallen into a numerological form of superstition no different from biorhythms, ufology, or astrology.

Re:Experiment? Or pseudo-science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525137)

Well, why don't we take the hypothsis that "better" music is music which causes more brain activity (blah blah, this could be more rigerous obviously).

Obviously with a metric, we can make testable claims agianst that metric. Then you may test those claims.

Its really not that hard. :P

My poor ears (1, Interesting)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525027)

My poor ears made me close the browser tab after testing a few different styles.

It sounds like the program generates each instrument's part separately, then juxtapositions them with no consideration for how they'd sound together.

This is something a human composer would catch, but a program generally doesn't.

Not music (4, Informative)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525033)

When it comes down to it, this is a way of interpretting a psuedeo random series of dots in a grid. Saying it's a "new kind of music" is a bit misleading - There's no flow, no beginning, no middle, no end. It's a new way of randomly generating midi note events within certain constraints.

Re:Not music (1)

darkov (261309) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525120)

I agree and disagree with you: it's not music (or art) becuase it has no emotion. The structure and form is irrelevant.

Re:Not music (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525126)

You have an awfully narrow defination of music. Where does it say that music has to have any of those things?

Re:Not music (1)

delta_avi_delta (813412) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525183)

Admittedly nowhere, but in most of the genres they claim to be able to generate, a beginning (verses & choruses), a middle 8th, and an end, with the implied progression are a given, unless the artist is being very experimental. I don't think it's a very restrictive metric.

Aargh! (1, Insightful)

AccUser (191555) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525034)

Someone has discovered a unlimited source of muzak [] ! I can sense hordes of senseless HomePage Hobbiests(TM) reaching for their editors...

A new kind of software marketing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525038)

Unfortunately, the law of Computational Equivalence tells us that Mathematica is no better than Maple or Matlab.

Re:A new kind of software marketing? (1)

maxjenius22 (560382) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525077)

Unfortunately, the law of Computational Equivalence tells us that Mathematica is no better than Maple or Matlab.

or ASM or Fortran or COBOL... Well, maybe not COBOL.

Ummm....I think I'd prefer elevator music (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525042)

This stuff is NOT music. Maybe the chatbots would like listening to this stuff, but I don't think it's ready for human consumption! LOL

I Like It... (1)

LEX LETHAL (859141) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525043)

I bought A New Kind Of Science and I've still got it. I read a few pages and went for a swim. Came back and read a few more. Maybe someday I'll finish the darn thing, but here's the catch: his ideas are sound. Forget about the business side of a man trying to get a buck for something he spent 2 decades working on. I saw a video of him explaining the text and it had me convinced and interested. This man knows what makes simple systems tick.

Re:I Like It... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525103)

No, he's merely convinced you, the pedestrian reader and Slashdotter, of such. One's self-image can easily be tweaked for a book.

actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525053)

Music is produced according to a marketing formula for the tastes that sell. They know for example that certain melodies and instruments are more marketable to American tastes and which are not. Which is why once a marketable "sound" is found, a genre of similar sounding music played over and over and over follows since companies don't want to take a risk that someone might change the channel and listen to another station. It's simliar with movies as well.

2 bucks?!? (1)

UndyingShadow (867720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525056)

Yes, you can get these as ringtones, for the low low price of only 2 dollar. Something interesting to play with but I dont see it changing the world

Don't click anything.... or pay me a fee! (4, Funny)

deft (253558) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525058)

Yeah, thats right, I'm creating a bot to click every button, and taking each output, emailing it to myself, and copyrighting it.

I figure in a year or so I should have just about everything either copywritten, or at least something close enough I can sue everyone.

I'm also working at buying the rights to the word "stealth".

Brian Eno & Koan (3, Interesting)

doublestar (913810) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525062)

Anyone remember the work that Eno had done with algorithmic/self generative music and the 'koan' program he co-developed?

Powered by Mathmatica... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525073)

When I see stuff like this, I'm reminded of a bit from How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons [] , on the opening section on myths about music:
  • Harmony is very mathematical
    Yes, that public belief is true. In order to understand harmony, you must be able to count to twelve. You can perform a scientific experiment at home to determine whether you have the necessary mathematical ability. Just look at a clock or a wrist watch. Can you tell what time it is? If not, then wait for the sequel to this book: How To Tell Time From A Clock and Wristwatch.
Music composition has very little to do with mathematics, and much more to do with patterns. One of the most basic things we do is find patterns in things - even where none exists. Witness the many people playing lottery games who are convinced they've found some "hidden" pattern.

Melody is guided by harmonic relationships based on the harmonic series. But a much stronger element is how our short-term memory is limited to being able to only a handful of elements.

Most music (especially pop) plays into this, creating very symetric call and response style phrases based on repeating patterns that make it very easy to code into familiar structures and ideas.

The beauty of this (from an algorithmic composition perspective) is that as long at there's an underlying beat and a hint of periodicity, we'll find "meaningful" patterns in even the most mediocre of music - including computer generated music.

Mathematical approaches are a fun diversion, but pretty much a dead end. Check out the work of David Cope [] for pattern-based computer composition that actually sounds like music.

Re:Powered by Mathmatica... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525193)

Music composition has very little to do with mathematics, and much more to do with patterns.

Newsflash: Mathematics is all about patterns.

Symmetry? Repeating patterns? Periodicity? We call that Fourier analysis. The act of composing a piece of music is really the act of choosing a whole lot of Fourier coefficients. Musicians may not think of it that way, but it is. I don't say this to detract from what human composers do, but in no way is it somehow "above" mathematical description.

Could be used for game music... (1)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525092)

... but little else. I listened to a few on the website, and it's way too random for casual listening. From a geek perspective, it's still interesting, but as a music lover, I'm generally not going to listen to something that sounds surprisingly similar to the output of a loop playing random musical notes via the PC speaker. As game music, however, it might be ok... especially for small-scale projects where a talented composer just isn't available. A bit of randomness might make things interesting in that situation, and it might even suit the atmospheres of some games.

A lot of the stuff on the site sounds like old Nintendo music anyway (as other posters also apparently noticed).

Microsoft random music generator (1)

OsirisX11 (598587) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525096)

This reminds me of a Microsoft program from years ago which let you specify what type of music you wanted, what mood, and so forth, and it would generate a midi file for you based on your settings.

Anyone else remember this?

Re:Microsoft random music generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525180)

Anyone else remember this?

nope... you are officially on drugs

I smell a Ferrengi! A Melnormé! I mean Wolfra (1)

relaxrelax (820738) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525100)

I smell a Ferrengi! A Melnormé! A used car salesman who used to sell insurance and encyclopedies so boring they were better than sleeping pills! Wolfram strikes again!!

Wolfram creates the new *cough* science *cough* of the week (again)! TuneDeaf-ology! AS SEEN ON TV!

Buy his new *cough* revolutionary *cough* book now!

Operators are standing by, and will be used to substract from your wallet in the order you will be calling. Long-distance charges may apply.

Seriously, the only kind of science Wolfram really mastered is marketing - how to get slashdotted that often while being laughable to most his fellow bad computer music programmers.

When I did the same kind of program in the 80's I deleted my program after running it twice as an act of sanity - unfortunately Wolfram doesn't have the mental equivalent of an eraser.

Music Choices (1)

klept (895849) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525107)

Listen to the BBC radio on the internet, and then please tell there is not much on radio these days. Unfortunately I think the problem has to do with USA radio.

Should Read: Wolfram sells ringtones! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525109)

People have been making music based on numbers for hundreds of years. Mozart made up a dice game to create tunes.

This is what WolframTones appears to be: The styles act as some kind of filter because they obviously limit the randomness to fit a certain style. Then a CA contributes some degree of randomness and some degree of repetition (If you compute the entropy of music we judge as pleasant it falls between repetitive and random - more towards repetative). We know that CAs can do this so it is only really clever if the style filters don't have a lot of information built-in.

But the music isn't very good. Certainly Band-in-a-box can do better.

So how is Wolfram different from the other human filth that sell ringtones? Because the music has a mathematical basis? Ass.

reminds me of an amiga program (2, Informative)

speculatrix (678524) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525110)

I remember an early amiga program which generated music and had this sort of graphical display - lines, blocks etc.

I think it was "Instant Music" from Electronic arts, but I can't be sure. I'd have to go into my attic to find the disk... and the Amiga.

Ok, the algorithm might me more sophisticated to generate something less apparently random noise, but I wouldn't rush out to buy the "music" it generates.


Frostalicious (657235) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525134)

This generator concept seems superficially interesting, but lacking in any real depth. I think there is far less going on here than Wolfram implies.

Exactly like A New Kind Of Science actually.

Radio? what? (1)

cinderful (586168) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525139)

"And anyone who has listen to the radio the last few years could certainly use some unique music."

Actually, there is music beyond what gets played on the radio.
And a lot of it is very, very good.

This, however, is not good.

Reminds me of a less creative version of MetaSynth []

this is hardly 'new' (1)

unfunk (804468) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525143)

John Cage [] was writing purely "random" music in the 50's, and seeing as he used actual chance procedures with physical tools such as dice, Chi sticks, playing cards, etc, I'd say that his music would be "more random" than anything produced by a computer algorithm.

He was also an important philosopher, and with his piece 4'33" [] , he broadened the definition of what is and is not music, just for all you people who are claiming that this stuff "isn't music"

This is pretty neat! (1)

Nikorasu85 (875920) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525161)

Even though most of you people dont like this site much... I spent a little time listening to several randomly generated songs from this site, and quite a few were very unique and audibly pleasing to me. I think its a pretty cool concept, and its certainly possible to perfect it more. Music might not be as uniquely human as we once thought. Think about it, if some of these songs were made by a human, I'm pretty sure a lot of people would like it more! =P

Hippety-hop (1)

broothal (186066) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525204)

I couldn't tell the difference between this, and "real" hip-hop.

The other genres sounded just like some random notes selected from a predefined list to keep the composition in tune.

My conclusion is, that this is how that hippety-hop music is actually created.

My name shall from now on be "Big Gangsta Al". Stay tuned for my new album.

Prior art? (2, Informative)

Google85 (797021) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525209)

From "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" By "Douglas Adams" (Talking About a Financial
spreadsheet program for the Mac) :
'You see, any aspect of a piece of music can be expressed as a sequence or pattern of numbers,'
enthused Richard. 'Numbers can express the pitch of notes, the length of notes, patterns of pitches and
'You mean tunes,' said Reg. The carrot had not moved yet.
Richard grinned.
'Tunes would be a very good word for it. I must remember that.'
'It would help you speak more easily.' Reg returned the carrot to his plate, untasted. 'And this
software did well, then?' he asked.
'Not so much here. The yearly accounts of most British companies emerged sounding like the Dead
March from Saul, but in Japan they went for it like a pack of rats. It produced lots of cheery company
anthems that started well, but if you were going to criticise you'd probably say that they tended to get a
bit loud and squeaky at the end. Did spectacular business in the States, which was the main thing,
commercially. Though the thing that's interesting me most now is what happens if you leave the accounts
out of it. Turn the numbers that represent the way a swallow's wings beat directly into music. What
would you hear? Not the sound of cash registers, according to Gordon.'

Band in a Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13525218)

Has anyone ever heard of "Band in a Box"? It's a similar idea (and quite old) - the quality of music it produces it much better.

Electronically generated classical music (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 9 years ago | (#13525222)

Way back in the days of type-your-code-in-from-a-magazine-listing, I remember someone publishing a set of programs for the Commodore 64 and VIC-20 that generated music in the style of Mozart using a database of chords and notes based on an analysis of Mozart's compositions. As I recall the music was very good.
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