50 Years of Generative Music in your browser
November 13, 2017 5:38 AM   Subscribe

How Generative Music Works: A Perspective by Tero Parviainen (Put on headphones, uses mouse/keyboard/touch)
posted by gwint (17 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
This is an interesting overview, but I could really do without the faux-powerpoint presentation style and would like to have have some more depth and external links.

Generative music (and generative art in general) can be used in a lot of different ways, from a composing tool, to a performance tool, to enhance other interactive media, to education and as a toy. A lot of these systems are fun just to play around with.
posted by demiurge at 5:54 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd like more user control over the rate of experiencing this article. The author has taken away my power to go back and forth, to know what and how much is coming, etc. I may have my horizons expanded (or whatever John Cage called it) but some of the visual cliches are annoying and remind me more of advertisements. Imagine if all journalism took this approach. Or all music.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:17 AM on November 13, 2017

Oh no, this looks like Prezi. I really want to absorb the whole thing, but the control freak zooming and panning makes me want to smash my phone against the wall.
posted by maudlin at 6:20 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's much more than just a PowerPoint deck-- over half the "slides" are working interactive implementations of the generative music systems he's discussing. It's possible they don't work on some phones?
posted by gwint at 6:50 AM on November 13, 2017

We've already experienced the inevitable outcome of generative music. It is the soundtrack to "Peppa Pig Spiderman Bad Baby Finger Song Murder Tree Spoon Rap."
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:59 AM on November 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Okay. Hey, this presentation might have mildly annoying features, but it actually does a good job presenting and explaining Reich's process. It's also a good demonstration of the overlap between minimalism, indeterminate music, ergodic music, and sonification. And (inadvertently) it demonstrates the fact that generative computer music is only as interesting as the samples and sythesized sounds that go into it.
posted by daisystomper at 7:43 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

OK, now that I'm on my desktop, I LOVE this. (I'm still not quite sure that the Prezi-style panning is delivering signal rather than noise, but there may be something subtle I'm missing about the spatial aspects of the presentation.)

"The music is incidental - the tram drivers aren't deliberately playing music to you." Ha! Somebody should do this for Toronto, but it would probably produce a deep chord all around the usual clusters.
posted by maudlin at 8:19 AM on November 13, 2017

BTW, the left cursor arrow backs you up a step, so if you miss something, you can go back. I just may stay parked with Helsinki's trams for the rest of my working day, though.
posted by maudlin at 8:20 AM on November 13, 2017

I really like this. It appears to be slides from a presentation [*] which I would love to have seen live, but it stands up very very well on its own. Thanks for posting :)
posted by mjg123 at 8:22 AM on November 13, 2017

This is terrific, the live demos are great. Like everyone else I agree it'd be better with some non-linear navigation, just a table of contents I can jump around with would do. I went through and made a list of all the pieces he talks about. Many of these are linked to standalone web pages you can play with.

Steve Reich: It's Gonna Rain (demo of process using a clip of Reich's voice)
Brian Eno: Music for Airports track 2
Steve Reich: Piano Phase
Terry Riley: In C
Brian Eno: Reflection
Tero Parviainen: Stochastic Drum Machine
John Cage: (nothing? just a text mention?)
Tero Parviainen: Polyloops, a generative grammar
Tero Parviainen: Trams of Helsinki
Brian Foo: Music Eclipticalis
Hatnote, Stephen LaPorte, and Mahmoud Hashemi: Listen to Wikipedia
Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers: Trope
Laurie Spiegel's Music Mouse, with partial reimplementation
Tero Parviainen: Dancing Markov Gymnopédies

The author also has many other projects on codepen. All with source code! There's a lot you can learn there.

My one complaint is his examples and work are all rooted in the 60s avant garde classical music culture. I like that stuff too! But there's so much other generative music. Classical Indian ragas, for instance. Tedious jam band music like Phish or the Grateful Dead (sorry not sorry).

And then my favorite, aggressive electronic music like Autechre. I don't have a good link now but from what I've read a lot of their tracks are basically complex Max/MSP machines where they press the button and it just goes. A lot of the magic in what they get feels somewhat serendipitous to me and the heir to generative music.
posted by Nelson at 8:44 AM on November 13, 2017 [9 favorites]

John Cage: (nothing? just a text mention?)

You're just supposed to stare at the text for 4'33".
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:57 AM on November 13, 2017

We've already experienced the inevitable outcome of generative music. It is the soundtrack to "Peppa Pig Spiderman Bad Baby Finger Song Murder Tree Spoon Rap."

♬ Are we human
♬ Or are we finger
posted by naju at 10:18 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I quite liked it. Liked it quite. Quite Quite Like Like. I.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:21 AM on November 13, 2017

For my money, Autechre is the best and brightest of generative music. Period. I think almost no one aside from intense electronic music composers really have an inkling of what their process actually is, and therein lies the problem with recognizing them for what they are.
posted by naju at 10:22 AM on November 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

Loved the implementation (despite my horror of Prezi). The individual widgets were beautiful.

This quote got me though. Laurie Spiegel (1987):

I know that a lot of the ways that music is integrated to our lives is changing.
One of the big changes is that music is becoming a process that people can participate in - rather than a bunch of fixed, finite entities called pieces that you can listen to that are the same every time.

Call me old-fashioned, but to me music was always participatory. The idea that it could be canned, sold, recorded, and repeated is relatively new, local, and odd.
posted by stonepharisee at 11:05 AM on November 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I saw this the other day, and there's lots of cool stuff here.
I wish these were downloadable apps. I really don't understand the trend of apps in the browser.
That just makes me think "cool" but I'm never going to use them.
posted by bongo_x at 1:29 PM on November 13, 2017

I thought this was fantastic - thanks for posting!
posted by Stark at 1:57 AM on November 15, 2017

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