Earlier we talked
about the OpenMusic tool. It allows you to write music using an object-oriented approach. Today we will talk about people who create compositions using specialized programming languages. And they often do it “live”. Photo Pixino / PD
A Brief History of Computer Music
The first computer used
to make music was CSIRAC
. It was designed by a group of Australian engineers in the late 40s. Then mathematician Jeff Hill (Geoff Hill) developed a special algorithmic program for the synthesis of musical works. In 1951, CSIRAC successfully performed the popular Colonel Bogey March. But on this his musical achievements ended.
Therefore, the first "computer musician" consider
Max Mathews (Max Mathews). He began playing music
using the IBM mainframe. An example of such a composition:
Since then, music programming
has come a long way. This term is most often understood as the process of creating tracks using sequencers, synthesizers and special software. But some music engineers consider
this approach a bad manners. Proponents of this point of view use program code and specialized PLs to create their compositions.
Who programs music
An example is the engineer Andrew Sorensen. He is a doctor of computer science and holds a bachelor's degree in jazz. Andrew has been writing music since 2005. Examples of tracks can be found on his Vimeo channel
. Here is one of his works
(music starts from the second minute). Such musicians often arrange live sessions and record tracks in front of a live audience. For example, Allison Walker, a sound designer in a gaming building from Melbourne, does this. According to her, at such performances the audience better understands how complicated the work is done by the composer of digital music.
By the way, such performances can be found in Russia. For example, last weekend in Yekaterinburg an algorave was held
- a disco where DJs wrote code in real time. Listeners could watch how sets of variables and numbers turn into a melody.
Some authors do not just program digital music. They create machine learning systems that help compose musical compositions and even write them on their own.
In this direction, composer David Cope
from the University of California works. He developed and patented an
algorithm that generates music tracks based on existing ones. For example, the video above shows a
composition based on Bach’s work.
What do they write on
To create this kind of music, special programming languages are used. Their number is quite extensive, so we will give only some of them below.
An example would be ORCA
, an esoteric PL
for creating procedural sequencers in which each letter of the alphabet represents a separate operation. One of the residents of Hacker News noted
that writing a melody using ORCA operators resembles a puzzle assembly. Sources and detailed instructions can be found in the repository on GitHub
Here is an example of a
melody generated in ORCA:
Some musicians create their own languages. For example, the already mentioned Andrew Sorensen introduced Extempore
. It is specially designed for live performances.
In 2014, Andrew spoke at the OSCON Developer Conference. There he demonstrated the capabilities of his language and wrote a melody from scratch. The record is on YouTube
It is also worth highlighting the ChucK
language, which was developed by engineers from Princeton University back in 2003. It supports the parallel execution of several threads and makes it possible to modify the program directly during its execution. Detailed documentation with examples is on the project website
Should program music be considered art
It is believed that software-generated tracks are not real music (“artificial”). In the past, many musicians refused
to play the melodies generated by David Cop's program when he asked them to. According to David, they believed that this would negatively affect their professional image. But the situation has changed.
More and more people and composers believe that computers and computing systems are designed to expand human capabilities and develop creative abilities. And increasingly, musicians are experimenting with new software, technology and sounds - they select and create unusual samples. Hardly musical programming will become widespread. But this is definitely the phenomenon at the junction of several areas of knowledge and cultures, which is worth paying attention to.
Additional reading in our “Hi-Fi World”: What is the legal status of music-making AI systems Birth and death of an album: how music formats have changed over the past 100 years How an IT company struggled to sell music From critics to algorithms: how democracy and technocracy came to the music industry Research: music harms creative thinking - discussing alternative opinions The first "gender-neutral" voice assistant was presented at the IT festival