MP1 - A Program for Music Composition

The computer-assisted composition program MP1 is based on the idea that the computer is a composer's collaborator. While the composer controls the overall outlook of the music and its abstract structure, the computer provides the details of the piece and ensures a certain degree of randomness unencumbered by cultural conditionings. The composer sets in motion a well-defined process by supplying a set of rules as well as the initial conditions and then does not interfere with the process or its end result. The composer accepts the output as long as it is consistent with the logic of the program and the input data. As the particular details of a piece depend on random occurrences, the same code and data can produce an unlimited number of compositions belonging to the same "equivalence class" or manifold composition. The members of a manifold composition are variants of the same piece; they share the same structure and are the result of the same process, but differ in the way specific events are arranged in time. A manifold composition is somewhat similar to the serigraphs produced by a visual artist, except that its individual members may be more distinct from one another. The global effect depends on the coherence with which the control parameters are chosen. For example, the members of a manifold composition may share certain fixed sections, while other sections diverge in different degrees. At present, MP1 running on an IBM RS/6000 can generate a chamber music work in a little less time than its actual duration: a 12- minute piece takes about 10 minutes of CPU time.


Hans G. Kaper, MCS Division
Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne, IL 60439
(630) 252-7160
Sever Tipei, School of Music
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 333-6689

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Last updated: October 21, 1998 (HGK)