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Automated Composition in Retrospect: 1956-1986

Author(s): Charles Ames
Source: Leonardo, Vol. 20, No. 2, Special Issue: Visual Art, Sound, Music and Technology (1987),
pp. 169-185
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: .
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Automated Composition in Retrospect:


Charles Ames

Abstract-This article chronicles computer programs for automated musical composition over the last 30
years, providingmusical examples from 11 computer-composedworks. The author begins by focusing on
early American efforts to impose stylistic controls through random sampling and testing, then describes
Europeanstatistical approaches used until 1970. The rise of 'interactive'compositional utilities duringthe
1970s is linked to the growing proliferation of on-line computers.The currentdecade has been a period of
eclectic interests: the resurgence of statistical procedures, the introduction of 'top-down' recursive
grammars,the adaptationof problem-solvingtechniquesfrom Artificial Intelligence andthe continuationof
interactive efforts.

This article chronicles efforts to harness oI
the computer as a tool for compositional
decision making, beginning in the mid-
POS4 8oi)od4 II I III

1950s and working up to the present L-/RIc 1V MuSiC 8/

decade. Although precedents for auto- D:r,4Areotl
mated composition exist throughout 2 1,2.,2,?
2. Lz Z (A'I4E MAr,c,^JS
musical history, never have such efforts TOoo8o Z9 7 '
).tAl RS-rtj CLEIt
posed as great a challenge to what for 144ntn-M tJd ^&SeXS
^ oa
many have been fundamentalassumptions to^ ?ar L
B&6Ir c
about the nature of creativity and the a...i I 1 IF T)#"
. f rM^-
7 11 I
aesthetic purposes of composition. It is ^^5 1- d
(^SAtU _ j.1w 'i
I J- J ^
I;^ . . Jl
therefore not surprising that these deve- i j I _4gDMAJ)EE
1 I ^-
lopments have met with continuing-and I^

t. j 1gF t e4< r
often virulent-resistance. Too often, 6,,. ct ^k 4y f Dm ^-4-
? S- 6r
~~ C' tIi M-, 1 ia G40r7~
however, the limitations of one or two 1t ijz }a
Ho-a I jaI 4*2" ; I I , a? II
t I-
individual approaches have been extra- CAL-CO - LAr- AJ, OAL- P-TA-riTJ' c4fcK - vJ/ird A
polated into conclusions that computers -^ ni .-.
are inherently unsuited to compositional
r-?9 r'K2m . :b
^ I 7-
i .:tn i sJI ) I
;X ^ ---I

problem solving. Even more unfortunate

r- S 1i- 1~-;
M- P%4?-IL. )T---rTo1JB -iA - Jar roo LA6E-LAW4rAcHALGE
has been the tendency among many
critics to base judgments on ad hoc (m7 c7
-rI r - T
& A
aesthetic criteria that are irrelevant to
what practitioners of automated com-
L.A-sy 1'Si 1 j Al? J n4
- '1-
" I ?
E- LC - 'ToJ- IC. eJ-? -COJ-IC ' ReNAD_ - t -
position have actually been trying to
Rv A ^
achieve. r r 46t?

' I^

A major obstacle to any informed t ? 11

I J ;1 If- p I L

understandingof automated composition EJD ..O. J.C

c- &4a6
?? o - -
7AJi'. k^r
has been the lack of accessible knowledge z-r4 t Jof D-
2if JGS-

I -
(A 4 I 17f --I c- " .
concerning how these composers have
r - -I J
,i 3.-,.1

gone about realizing their inspirations as Ij i P. l^n-

1 a rT I1
pieces of music. For most readers, only oL AD CAL -CO - -LA - r_
LA 'sEos
-rf4ts&GAL JA6 Jo EARr oR 8ouL
AL- uJ.i/S 0) - D-'D -,fA l D- /,a_Jsr uf A ireH AD 'c So -
the well-publicized achievements of C?
.F' n' ,4 .--I r t. __., ,I I
Lejaren Hiller [1-5] and Iannis Xenakis
[6, 7] come to mind; in fact, there have
been a number of other composers whose b.54_-6&r-r'b e--rdfA_ o- - -ro
O- i-T/7oJ DI-, J/hJE
work has been equally deserving of k4e6 .<?aAvr
r4is_sa ,? ,
recognition. Although Hiller made some At! -rN r r t ruj 11-
PA4W-G LI/L6r VLLAID /oou(RiGHr sd. IflJE - fLL- /AJ --__
WOaroT 4/~AS W/~
-, t,1/--L D?i3/q _ /f- C-/ . ---
Charles Ames (composer), 49-B Yale Avenue,
Eggertsville, NY 14226, U.S.A.

Manuscript solicited by Anthony Hill.

Received 17 January 1986. Fig. 1. Martin Klein and Douglas Bolitho, "Push Button Bertha", 1956. Public domain.

? 1987 ISAST
Pergamon Journals Ltd.
Printed in Great Britain. LEONARDO, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 169-185, 1987
0024-094X/87 $3.00+0.00
progress in correcting this deficiency Ilisac Suite ExperimentsSummarized
through his 1970 comprehensive survey ExperimentOne: Monody, two-part, and four-part writing
of early efforts [8], he was able to provide
no musical examples and only the barest A limited selection of first-speciescounterpoint rules used for controlling the musical
details about how individual pieces were output
(a) Monody: cantus firmi 3 to 12 notes in length
made. The present article seeks not only
(b) Two-part cantus firmus settings 3 to 12 notes in length
to bring the history of automated (c) Four-part cantus firmus settings 3 to 12 notes in length
composition up to date, but also to clarify
(1) what has motivated composers over ExperimentTwo: Four-part first-species counterpoint
the last 30 years to delegate their creative Counterpointrules were added successively to random white-note music as follows:
decisions to a machine, and (2) how these (a) Random white-note music
composers have gone about programming (b) Skip-stepwiserule; no more than one successive repeat
the machine to give them what they (c) Opening C chord; cantus firmtis begins and ends on C; cadence on C: B-F
wanted. tritone only in VII; chord; tritone resolves to C-E
(d) Octave-rangerule
(e) Consonant harmonies only except for 6 chords
(f) Dissonant melodic intervals (seconds, sevenths, tritones) forbidden
II. "PUSH BUTTON BERTHA": 1956 (g) No parallel unisons, octaves, fifths
One of the earliest instances of auto- (h) No parallel fourths, no 6 chords, no repeat of climax in highest voice
mated composition was a program for
composing 'Tin Pan Alley' melodies, ExperimentThree: Experimental music
which was created by Martin Klein and Rhythm, dynamics, playing instructions, and simple chromatic writing
Douglas Bolitho of Burroughs, Inc. using (a) Basic rhythm, dynamics, and playing-instructionscode
a computer called DATATRON. An (b) Random chromatic music
anonymously written Burroughs publi- (c) Random chromatic music combined with modified rhythm, dynamics, and
cation outlines the operation of the I playing-instructionscode
program as follows: (d) Chromatic music controlled by an octave-range rule, a tritone-resolutionrule,
and a skip-stepwiserule
TheoperatorinspiresDATATRONby (e) Controlled chromatic music combined with modified rhythm, dynamics, and
first keying in a 10-digit random playing-instructionscode
number.This causes the machineto (/) Interval rows, tone rows, and restricted tone rows
generate and store 1000 single digits,
each representingone of the eight Experiment Four: Markoff chain music
diatonic notes in the scale with two (a) Variation of zeroth-order harmonic probability function from complete tonal
allowable accidentals. The program
then motivatesDATATRONto pick restriction to "average"distribution
successive notes at random, testing (b) Variation of zeroth-order harmonic probability function from random to
eachformelodicacceptability as it goes "average" distribution
along[9]. (c) Zeroth-orderharmonic and proximity probability functions and functions com-
bined additively
One result of this process was the melody (d) First-order harmonic and proximity probability functions and functions com-
"Push Button Bertha" (see Fig. 1), which bined additively
was first aired on July 15, 1956 [10]. (e) Zeroth-order harmonic and proximity functions on strong and weak beats,
respectively, and vice-versa
(f) First-order harmonic and proximity functions on strong and weak beats, re-
spectively, and vice-versa
(g) ith-order harmonic function on strong beats, first-orderproximity function on
III. THE URBANA SCHOOL: weak beats; extended cadence; simple closed form
1957 TO 1966
Klein and Bolitho's method of random Fig. 2. Illlac SuiteExperiments
Reproduced fromHillerandIsaacson[5]. Copyright
sampling and testing provided what 1959McGraw-Hill of thepublisher.
BookCompany.Usedby permission
seemed at the time a viable emulation by
computer of traditional compositional Hiller, Isaacson and Baker experiments were collected into an Illiac
decision making. In fact, the same Suite for string quartet. Figure 2 details
During the same years in which Klein
method had been developedindependently and Bolitho were programming DATA- Hiller and Isaacson's procedures, which
by Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson TRON, Hiller and Isaacson were under- utilized two basic approaches:
at the University of Illinois, 1. Random selection constrained
taking a series of compositional "experi-
Urbana/Champaign. The publicity gen- ments"* using the ILLIAC computer, by lists of rules, an approach
erated by Hiller and Isaacson's Illiac which had been designed and built at resembling that of Klein and
Suite [11], supplemented by the establish- Urbana. Many of their results were Bolitho (Experiments 1-3).
ment under Hiller of one of the nation's 2. Markov chains, also random,
presented in a well-publicized concert
earliest electronic music studios, attracted in which the relative likelihood
which, coincidentally,also occurredduring
a number of individuals interested in of each option was conditioned
July 1956. Subsequently, these and later
merging the new music with the new by one or more immediately
technology. Along with Hiller and preceding choices (Experiment
Isaacson, these people included Robert *Enclosure of terms in double quotes indicates coined 4).
Baker [12], James Tenney [13], Herbert or otherwise idosyncratic terminology drawn from An excerpt from the Illiac Suite appears
specific sources.
Brun [14-17] and John Myhill [18-20]. in Fig. 3.

170 Ames, Automated Composition

James Tenney
:,,.. fd.. Pp cresc. map James Tenney had been drawn to
Urbana as a graduate student by Hiller's
tr0t i9Jh c groundbreakingcoursein electronicmusic.
While at Urbana, Tenney pursued studies
9'6ZIJ88 #DDD+ D S p S D 7 p S g t p S 2 t }p-cottp J6F 8 Z*_ Z. j-f
r e De r
in computer composition. In 1961 he was
invited to Bell Telephone Laboratories
[25] where Max Mathews [26-28] was in
the process of developing his now well-
known digital sound-synthesis programs.
Though unaware of the "stochastic music
program" that lannis Xenakis was
developing roughly at the same time [29],
Tenney had been inspired by Xenakis's
statistical scores such as Pithoprakta and
Achorripsis,which had been described in
articles by Xenakis [30]. Tenney's
programs differ substantially from
Xenakis's in Tenney'suse of (1) segmented
line graphscontrollinghow compositional
parameters evolve over time, and (2)
hierarchic procedures devised in response
to the Gestalt psychology of Max
Most of Tenney's composing programs
generated files of numeric data which
were then realized digitally by Mathews's
MUSIC4 program. However, one excep-
tion admits direct visual examination of
the score: Tenney's 1963 Stochastic String
Quartet. This piece divides into three
sections, which at the indicated tempi last
50, 100 and 40 seconds. Sections divide
into intermediate structural units, which
Tenney calls "clangs", and these in turn
divide into notes. The profile of each
section is controlled by graphs of musical
attributes,such as clang durations,average
Fig.3. LejarenHillerandLeonardIsaacson,IlliacSuite,1957,excerptfromExperiment 3. Measures
periods between attacks, ranges of pitches,
55-72 show "basic rhythm,dynamics, andplaying-instructionscode"; measures73-80 show "random
dynamics and several aspects of timbre:
chromatic music";measures81-100 show "randomchromaticmusic combinedwith modifiedrhythm,
dynamics, and playing-instructions code". Copyright 1957 New Music Edition. Used by permission of vibrato, tremolo, "spectrum" (sul tasto,
the publisher,TheodorePresser Company, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, U.S.A. ord., sul pont.) and "envelope" (pizz.,
arco-staccato, arco-legato, arco-marcato,
arco-sforzando). Each graph supplies a
A second early collaborator of Hiller's into creative activity that interaction with mean value to one or more random
was Robert Baker, who conceived the a computer can provide. For example, generators in order to select attributes for
composing utility called MUSICOMP Hiller and Isaacson [23] describe the a specific clang; in turn, the program
(MUsic Simulator Interpreter for COM- Illiac Suite as a study of "those aspects of feeds these clang attributes into further
positional Procedures). MUSICOMP the process of composition..." which random generators in order to select
greatlyfacilitatedthe processof developing can be modeled " ... by applying certain attributes for a note. The opening of the
new composing programs by managing mathematical operations deriving from Stochastic String Quartet appears in Fig.
libraries of compositional subroutines probability theory and certain general 4.
and other programming modules which principles of analysis incorporated in a An especially significant feature of the
individual composers could link together [then] new theory of communication quartet is Tenney's elaborate procedure
in a main program designed to meet their called information theory". Hiller and for notating rhythm. Not content to
own idiosyncratic purposes. Hiller and Baker's article "Computer Cantata: A approximatehis rhythmsas displacements
Baker first utilized MUSICOMP to create Study in Compositional Method" expres- relative to a simple meter such as 4/4,
their 1962 ComputerCantata [21], which ses a similar attitude: Tenney exploits bracketed rhythmic
employed serial methods drawn "almost proportions directly as a compositional
Since our primary purpose was to
in toto" from Pierre Boulez's Structures demonstrate theflexibilityandgenerality resource. His notational procedure works
for two pianos [22] in addition to the of MUSICOMP,the Computer Cantata as follows. At the broadest level, the
methods employed to create the Illiac presents a rather wide variety of program selects the length of each clang
Suite. compositional procedures, some of in quarter notes. Within a clang, it then
a whichprovedof greaterestheticvalue selects an independent "gruppetto" unit
Among Hiller and his colleagues, than others,and manyof whichcould
strong motivation for automating the be improved[!] by more sophisticated for each instrumental part. Measure 13,
compositional process has been the insight logic [24]. for example, constitutes one clang lasting

Ames, Automated Composition 171

STOCHASTIC STRING QUARTET James Tenney technical notes on Sonoriferous Loops
J =60
compiled by Briin, his program advances
Of .s II
x ---
9q i
Vn I
^x e_
i I
-4- -- from moment to moment in the score, in
$3 - ,___3._, effect 'scanning' each instrumental (or
synthetic) part to determine whether or
not the part is engaged by a note or rest. If
Va 37 '>
"jj not, then the program initiates the
sfz=3 _pj ,
:--==- following steps:
-:' -1.
Vc Y
.- v-
-- 1- ,t"I . . 1.
,mI r- I m- - !-
i V-
Rhythm.The programrandomly
i PAW I ? J i I I
"?.- t I
4 'j- _ -_p~ X; selects "denominators" and
"numerators" from 16, 6, 5 and
4; these are applied to a common
Vn multiple of 240 to produce a
2. Rest/Play Choice. The program
z- s -^ next decides whether to rest or
to play a note. The relative
activity of each part within a
3-, - - section of music is controlled by
~ J>_ "rest/play probabilities"; in the
opening measures, for example,
flute rests 26% of the time,
Vn I trumpet 32%, double bass 50%,
V 7r 4 mallets 68% and unpitched
percussion 74%.
IT _- 3. Pitch. Should the program elect
to play a note in Step 2, it will
next select a chromatic degree
and a register. The mechanism
r^- X for selecting degrees consults a
12-element array which the
program randomly shuffles at
the beginning of each 12-note
cycle. Because this mechanism
4 supplies degrees for all parts
simultaneously, the composite
texture obeys a uniform distri-
bution of degrees. Registers are
_,-- selected at random.
, Once rhythms and pitches had been
- v=== 1J
tJj?1 determinedby his program,Bruinmanually
(fj d/m. -PP intervened to supply tempi, dynamics and
4. James Stochastic "instrumental modes (pizz., mute, stacc.,
Fig. Tenney, StringQuartet,1963,measures1-15. Copyright198t5SonicArt t
Editions,2617Gwynndale Avenue,Baltimore,MD21207,U.S.A.Usedbypermission of tbhepublisher. etc.)
An excerpt from another computer-
composed work of Briiun'sfor ensemble
two quarters; the gruppetto units are 5 ... whereasthehumanmind,conscious and tape, Non-Sequitur VI, appears as
(violin 1), 2 (violin 2), 3 (viola) and 2 of its conceivedpurpose,appiroaches Fig. 6. Briun'scomments regarding this
('cello). Each gruppetto unit in turn evenanartificialsystemwitha selective work evoke Xenakis's investigation in
divides randomly into smaller divisions. attitudeand so becomesaware
the preconceivedimplicationsof othe Achorripsis[32] of the minimal conditions
This continually fluid metrical structure
system,the computerswouldshiow the necessary to create a composition.
then provides a notational framework for totalof theavailablecontent.Revealing However, Briin imposes the additional
the 'floating-point' durations generated farmorethanonlythetendencies of the requirement of 'musicality' through the
by Tenney's random generators. humanmind,this nonselectivepicture mechanism of random sampling and
of themind-created systemshou
significantimportance[31]. testing:
Herbert Briun
Briiun'sSonoriferous Loops aldopts the Theprogramming of [Non-Sequitur VI]
A member of the Urbana composition model of Varese's Deserts by a]Iternating mainlyreflectsthe continuoussearch
faculty from 1963 to the present, Herbert four digitally synthesized interludes with foranswersto thefollowing:(1)Whatis
Brtin employed MUSICOMP to create a the minimal number and power of
five short movements for live eemsemble. restrictiverules that will select from
number of works including his 1964 The live ensemble employs the five randomgenerated sequences of elements
SonoriferousLoopsand 1966Non-Sequitur instrumental parts shown in Fig. 5- that particular variety of element-
VI. Like Hiller, Isaacson and Baker, Brun flute, trumpet, double bass, malllets (xylo- concatenationssatisfyingtheconditions
valued composing programs as truly phone and marimba) and I mnpimtched for either recognizableor stipulated
'musical'formsandevents?(2) Coulda
empirical means for testing formulations percussion-while the interlude-s employ combinationof stochasticchoicerules
of compositional procedures: three synthetic voices. Accordiing to the with heuristic, multivalent,decision

172 Ames, Automated Composition

SONORIFEROUS LOOPS crosses the corresponding scale
Herbert Brun degree.Note durationstherefore
Opus 32 - 1964
J = 144 depend on the steepness of the
contour as it passes from one
scale step to the next.


MUSIC: 1960-1970
The first-known European composer
to become involved with automated
compositional procedures was Pierre
Barbaud, who presented computer-com-
posed pieces in Paris as early as 1960.
Many of Barbaud's procedures are
documented in a monograph entitled
Initiation a la compositionmusicale auto-
matique [35]; they include permutational
methods applied to traditionalharmonies,
serial (12-tone) methods and methods of
I! random selection. In his article "Algo-
2 rithmic Music" he sets forth the aesthetic
philosophy that musical composition
"consists in creating what scholastics
called an artifactum, that is to say
something that nature does not produce".
Barbaud confronts objections that auto-
mation removes the 'humanity' from
composition by turning the complaint
against itself:

Musicis generallycalled'human'when
it considers temporary or inherent
tendenciesof the mind,of partor all of
a composer'spersonality.Suchmusicis
based on feelingand since it turnsits
back,in a sense,on pureknowledge,it
mightratherbe called'inhuman',for it
celebrateswhat we have in common
with all the animalsratherthan with
what is individualto man:his reason.
Algorithmicmusic is thus 'inhuman'
only in one sense of the word, it is
'human'in as muchas it is the product
of rationalbeings[36].

Fig.5. HerbertBriin,Sonoriferous 1964HerbertBriin.Usedby

Loops,1964,measures0-9. Copyright Compositionally, where the Urbana
permissionof the composer. school tended to focus on local relation-
ships implemented in the form of stylistic
taking procedures contribute an ap- As with Brun's Sonoriferous Loops rules, the Europeans emphasized global
parent 'musical' coherence to a chain of
changes of state in a structured system? program, Myhill's program scans all qualitiesof musicalpassages, as quantified
[33] three voices from moment to moment; by statistical distributions. Technically, it
however, in this case the program deter- was Europeans such as lannis Xenakis
mines whether or not each part is ready to [37] and Gottfried Michael Koenig [38-
John Myhill begin a new contour. If ready, the 42] who were the first to conceive of a
Although John Myhill came to Urbana program selects a shape from those given composing program as a utility capable of
in 1964 as a professor of philosophy and in Fig. 7, an overall duration for the new generating many pieces, rather than a
mathematics, he had in fact previously contour and one of the following three one-shot effort geared toward a specific
undertaken formal musical studies with modes of performance: compositional goal. Xenakis extolls what
Michael Tippet. An avid supporter of 1. Siren-like glissandi. he considers to be the virtues of such
activities then in progress at Urbana, 2. Discrete pitches taken from a generalized utilities in the following
Myhill in 1965 contributed a Scherzo a scale relative to a rhythmic poetic terms:
Tre Voce for computer-synthesized tape pattern: the scale degree in
alone. The Scherzo, directly inspired by closest proximity to the contour With the aid of electronic computers
graphic methods advocated by Joseph at the onset of a note determines the composer becomes a sort of pilot:
the pitch(Schillinger'sapproach). he presses the buttons, introduces
Schillinger [34], derives melodic contours
coordinates, and supervisesthe controls
for each of its three voices-hence the 3. Discrete pitches again taken of a cosmic vessel sailing in the space of
title-from the eight evolving sinusoids from a scale. Here, each new sound, across sonic constellations and
depicted in Fig. 7. note begins when the contour galaxies that he could formerly glimpse

Ames, Automated Composition 173



Fig. 6. Herbert Brun, Non-Sequitur VI, 1966, measures 1-8. Copyright 1966 Herbert Briin. Used by permissionof the composer.

Constant deviation from central pitch Increasing deviation from central pitch Decreasing deviation from central pitch






VV\J\j/ l

o ItA
; V v

Fig. 7. Melodic contoursin John Myhill's Scherzo a Tre Voce,1965. At its maximum(vertical) spread,each contourspans a one-and-one-halfoctave range.

174 Ames, Automated Composition

only as a distant dream. Now he can Following the model of Achorripsis,the violin, 'cello, contrabass and piano, and
explore them at his ease, seated in an stochastic music program employs statis- for these instruments, Xenakis esta-
armchair [43].
tical procedures to deduce a musical work blished respective maximum densities-
with "the greatest possible asymmetry ... at 4, 4, 3 and 15 notes per second. These
lannis Xenakis and the minimumof constraints,causalities, values result in a combined maximum
Perhaps the best-known composer to and rules". Xenakis designed his program density of 26 notes per second, but
employ computers has been lannis to create works for varied ensembles Xenakis nudged this value upwardslightly
Xenakis. It was Xenakis who had first according to varied input data supplied to 28. He also specified a combined
introduced statistical methods of com- by the composer. Among the more minimum density of 0.07 notes per
posing for live ensembles: Pithoprakta familiar pieces produced by Xenakis second-approximately one note every
(1956) exploits Gaussian distribution to using this program are ST/10-1,080262 13 seconds. The stochastic music program
realize the "temperatures" of massed for 10 instruments, ST/48-1,240162 for converts these "objective" limits to
glissandi, while Achorripsis (1957) uses orchestra (48 instruments) and Morsima- produce a range of "subjective" (logari-
Poisson's distribution of rare events to Amorsima ( ST/4-1,030762) for 4 instru- thmic) densities from 0 to 6. For each of
organize"clouds"of sound. The aggregate ments. the integral points along this range of
effect of these statistical scores concerned One can gain a sense of how Xenakis subjective densities (0, 1, ..., 6), the
Xenakis much more than specific relation- worked with his program by examining program accepts a list of probabilistic
ships between musical elements; in his the input data -used to create one such weights by which notes will be drawn
1962 "stochastic music program" [44], he work, Morsima-Amorsima. This work from each of the various timbre classes
began delegating specific decisions to the lasts 17 minutes, 12 seconds at the available from the ensemble. For
random-number generatorof a computer. indicated tempo. Its ensemble consists of Morsima-Amorsima,Xenakis has defined


,.-. , JWtl Density =0.4

Z_ -

cil ~ ~ ~ ~ -- -

~~~~-0o 0


Fig. 8. Chartof orchestrationversussubjectivedensityfor lannis Xenakis's Fig. 9. lannis Xenakis, Morsima-Amorsima, 1962, measures 136-146.
Theindicatedtimbreclassesare:(1) piano,(2) arco
Morsima-Amorsima. Each 'JW' marksignifies the first complete measureof a section; densities
ponticello, (3) harmonics,(4) arco normale,(5) glissando, (6) tremolo arco calculated by the program are presented in their 'objective' forms. The
ponticello, (7) pizzicato and (8) frappe col legno. After a diagramprovided abbreviationsin the string parts are: asp-arco sul ponticello; an -arco
by the composer. position normale, and fc--frappe col legno. Copyright 1967 Boosey and
Hawkes Music PublishersLimited, 295 Regent Street, LondonW1R 8JH,
United Kingdom.Reprintedby permissionof the publisher.

Ames, Automated Composition 175

eight suchclasses.The relativedistributions
in which the stochastic music program AKKORDE

employs these timbre classes are graphed / .

along the range of subjective densities in ?
Fig. 8; an excerpt from Morsima- f
Amorsima appears in Fig. 9.
Once provided with its basic input
data-length of the composition, average
length of a section, range of densities and
constitution of the ensemble-the sto-
9 7Ut/ - b
chastic music program is ready to go. The
program is structured in two loops: an
outerloop determinesthe duration,density ~'' H- ; j , __.
9 r jt 2ti J7
and distribution of timbre classes (the last ^^
^ ^
by locating the subjective density along 7^
the horizontal scale in Fig. 8, then 9 "/ 97-
determining weights for each timbre class
along the vertical) for each section of the ^O ^ T
work, and an inner loop composes the
actual notes. Details of these mechanisms
may be found in Xenakis'sown description .
of the program [45] and John Myhill's
less mathematically demanding critique

Gottfried Michael Koenig

A less well-known but equally signi-
ficant contributor has been Gottfried
Michael Koenig, who has been associated
for many years with the Institute of
Sonology in Utrecht both as a teacher and
as an administrator. Koenig's work in m'
~~ I..~
automated composition began in 1964 'PP
with a composing program entitled
PROJECTI, and this program has been
responsible for several of Koenig's
compositions including his 1965 Project
1, Version1 for 14 instruments. Although
Koenig's background is serial (he had
worked early on as a composer, assistant - 6

and teacher in the Cologne electronic T\ ; P,^,q tD b

music studio), it had become apparent to
Koenig by the time he undertook
PROJECT1 that "the trouble taken by
the composer with series and their TOENE

permutations has been in vain; in the end I

it is the statistical distribution that y19

_ Xi-r:
/ I i --r rI ir 1l
_--_ p
determines the composition" [47]. mp-======== ff
A more elaborate program from 1969
called PROJECT2 [48] incorporates a
19: rFL I
broad palette of statistical procedures
f ff P mp
which users can patch together in different
combinations. Although Koenig deve-
loped PROJECT2for pedagogicfunctions,
he has used it himself in one instance to lyI ? 1 -P A i11
f __
create an ambitious Ubungfur Klavier
("Study for Piano", 1970). The score to --5 - - 3 -

this work consists of 12 "structures";

o:' r ~~~~,; ip v_;7
r- "


Fig. 10. GottfriedMichaelKoenigUbungfur /il.-;-JI"f,,

Klavier,1970, Structure8, Variant1. The 'chords'
(Akkorde) and the 'tones' (Toene) result from - 1 7~~~~ .


independent sets of directives to Koenig's

PROJECT2program.Copyright1969 Gottfried ig I7 I PP
r ;1
Michael Koenig. Used by permission of the mf

176 Ames, Automated Composition

each structureappearsin three "variants", register,(3) entrydelay, or period between dent of one another; e.g. pitches do not
for which the only change in directives to consecutive attacks, (4) durationand (5) directly affect rhythms. However, in a few
PROJECT2 is the duration. Koenig dynamic. The harmony parameter is situations such as the restriction upon
acknowledges the indeterminate aspects chosen by one of three principles (imple- durations in Structure 8's "groups of
of his compositional process by allowing mented as program subroutines) called chords", the user is able to engage a
the performerto choose between variants; ROW, CHORD and INTERVAL. For "block", causing PROJECT2 to toss out
the fact that such indeterminacy is closely each parameter other than harmony, the unacceptable choices and select new
circumscribed is reflected in Koenig's user either must specify a constant value options.
instructions that at least one variant of or must provide a supply of options and Like GROUP, Koenig's 'harmonic'
each structuremust be played, and that all specify one of six selection features (also principles, CHORD and INTERVAL,
12 structures must be presented in a implemented as subroutines): may be regardedas 'higher-order'selection
prescribed order. SEQUENCE, ALEA, SERIES, RATIO, features. Each call to CHORD first
An examination of Structure 8 of the GROUP or TENDENCY. Table 1presents requests a module such as ALEA or
Ubung fur Klavier illustrates the a breakdown of the principles, selection SERIES to choose an entry from a table
workings of PROJECT2. Variant 1, features and supplies used to compose of chords provided by the user. Koenig's
which is the shortest, contains two sets of Structure 8 [50]. table for the "groups of chords" in
material: eight 'groups of chords' and Of the selection features employed for Structure 8 is shown here as Fig. 11; in
five 'groups of tones' (Fig. 10). Structure 8, ALEA and SERIES are the this instance, the job of selection falls to
Koenig provides the following synopsis most fundamental. ALEA samples ele- ALEA. Once it has obtained a chord,
of Structure 8 in his instructions to the ments at random with replacement from CHORD again invokes either ALEA or
performer, which allow elements of the supply, with uniform likelihood of SERIES to determine a (register-free)
performer discretion much like those selection. SERIES also samples elements transposition; ALEA also received this
controlling the performance as a whole: at random, but without replacement;i.e. second job in Structure 8.
each time SERIES selects an element, it The INTERVAL principle employed
A transition:
chordsandtonesalternate. eliminatesthis element from consideration for the 'groups of tones' implements a
Thereare also severalgroupsof both until the entire supply has been exhausted Markov chain: In order to select a current
chordsand tones in everyvariant.Not (at this point, the full supply once again interval,INTERVAL begins by consulting
all the groups of chords or tones have to
beplayed,butthoseselectedmustbe in becomes available). The procedure for a user-provided logical matrix, such as
the givenorder.Groupsof tones must SERIES is reminiscent of the random the one for Structure 8 shown in Fig. 12.
alwaysbe separatedby chords,groups shuffling undertaken by Brin's Sonori- This matrix informs INTERVAL which
of chords can join on to one another ferous Loops program. Compared to of the 11 intervals from the minor second
(withoutjumping over groupsof chords).
A second group of chords then joins on
ALEA, SERIES requires many fewer to the major seventh are acceptable, given
rhythmically where indicated by the calls before its actual choices come to the most recent interval employed by the
arrow. Such arrows, when present, reflect the distribution of options inherent program. INTERVAL then requests
have no significance if groups of chords in the supply. GROUP is a higher-order SERIES to select from these acceptable
alternate with groups of tones. What selection feature which repeats each options. The currentintervalthen becomes
must be played are: at least three groups
of tones in the first variant .... The element a number of times before the most recent interval for the next call to
number of groups of chords is left to the resampling the supply; the number of INTERVAL, perpetuating the chain.
player, but he should begin with a repetitions and the new supply element Once it has determined a chromatic
group of chords [49]. can be selected either by ALEA or by degree using one of Koenig's principles, it
SERIES, depending on the user's direc- remains for PROJECT2 to generate
Included among the musical "parameters" tives. lower and upper registral limits for this
selected by PROJECT2 are (1) harmony, For the most part,the selectionprocesses degree. In Structure 8, Koenig has
or degree of the chromatic scale, (2) undertaken by PROJECT2 are indepen- specified constant registral limits. Thus,
Table1. Breakdownof principles,selectionfeaturesand suppliesusedto compose each pitch within the "groups of chords"
Structure 8 of the Ubungfur Klavier(see Fig. 10) will be placed randomly within any of the
four octaves between C3 (C below middle
Parameter Chords Tones C) and B6. Similarly, pitches in the
Harmony CHORD from chord table INTERVAL from intervallic "groupsof tones" occur randomlybetween
shown in Figure 11. matrix shown in Figure 12. G2 and F#6.

Register Constant: C3- B6 Constant: G2 to F#6 Index Degrees

Entry Delay ALEA from 0.24, 0.30, ALEA from 0.46, 0.58, 1 C# F
2 F# A
0.37, 0.46, 0.58, 0.72, 0.72, 0.89, 1.11, 1.38, 3 Bb C
and 0.89 seconds for and 1.72 seconds. 4 F F#
entire chord. 5 A Bb
6 C# F F#
7 C# F C
Duration ALEA from 0.10, 0.12, Same as entry delay A Bb
8 F#
0.15, 0.19, 0.24, 0.30, 9 F F# A
0.46, 0.58, and 0.72 10 C# Bb C
seconds for entire chord; 11 A Bb C
12 C# F F# A
duration may not exceed 13 C# F Bb C
entry delay. 14 F# A Bb C
15 F F# A Bb
Dynamics GROUP: elements by SERIES SERIES from pp, p, mp, 16 C# F F# C
17 C# A Bb C
from pp, p, mp, mf, f, and mf, f, and ff.
ff; repetitions by SERIES
from 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Fig. 11. Chordal table for Structure 8 of
Koenig's Ubungfur Klavier.

Ames, Automated Composition 177

Fig. 13 and in an analogous set of
Most Current Interval
Recent durations. In order best to "hear" what
Interval m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 TT P5 m6 M6 m7 M7 the computer would be doing in real time
as he manipulated GROOVE's input
m2 yes no no no no no no no no yes yes
M2 no yes yes yes no no yes yes no yes yes devices during this initial foray into
m3 no yes no no no no yes no yes no no automated composition, Ghent employed
M3 no no no no no yes no yes no yes no a pitch set with strong tonal orientation
P4 no no no no no no -yes no yes yes no
TT no yes no no no yes no yes no no no around Bb. When he had specified both
P5 no yes yes no yes no no no no no no pitch and duration sets, he developed a
m6 no yes no yes no no no no no yes no
M6 no no yes no yes no no no no yes no program to generate 10 "functions"
m7 yes yes no yes yes yes no no yes yes no (monodic sequences of notes); these
M7 yes yes no no no no no no no no yes functions wereproducedby usingweighted
randomness to select pitch-set elements
Fig. 12. Intervallie matrix for Structure 8 of Koenig's Ubungfur Klavier. and duration-set elements for each note.
The resulting functions, denoted by
Otto Laske digitally controlled analog synthesis or Ghent using the symbols F 1, F2, . .. F10,
A close collaborator of Koenig's has throughsoftwaresound-synthesispackages in turn provided all of the material for
been Otto Laske [51-57]. As a composer modeled after Mathews's MUSIC4 and Lustrum.BecauseGhent'sprogramsrepre-
and musical epistemologist, Laske has MUSIC5 programs[74], and laterthrough sented pitches in these functions by their
been strongly interested in the impact of digital hardware. position in the set rather than by their
computer-aided tools on the way com- location on the keyboard, he was able to
posers think. For a number of years implementmotivic operations which acted
beginning in the early 1970s, Laske has Ghent and Spiegel
indirectly on set positions-operations
worked to blend insights from cognitive In particular, an environment such as not unlike the traditional practices of
psychology,formal linguisticsand artificial Mathews and Moore's GROOVE (Gener- transforming motifs modally-relative to
intelligenceinto an expertsystem"bridging ating Realtime Operations on Voltage- notes of a constituent major or minor
the gap between a composer's semantic controlled Equipment) [75] utilizes the scale. In Fig. 14, for example, violin II
intuitions and low-level data". In Laske's computer as an intermediarybetween the plays the original form of F1. The 'cello
work, composing programs such as user (working through specialized control plays a derivative of F I which is obtained
Xenakis'sand Koenig'sareoften employed devices such as keyboards and/or panels by invertingthis original sequence around
to create "proto-scores" which Laske will of knobs and switches, along with the 8, the central position in Fig. 13: the
freely edit and arrange. usual alphanumeric terminal) and an opening D in violin II lies two positions
array of real-time sound-synthesis hard- lower than position 8, so the opening G in
V. INTERACTIVEUTILITIES IN THE ware. Such an environment enables a the 'cello lies two positions higher,and so
UNITED STATES AND CANADA: composer/performer to deal at a reflex forth. Also appearing in Fig. 14 is F2,
1970-1978 level with sounds and timings, although played in original form by the viola, in
The 1970s marked the widespread the price for this is that compositional 'indirect' inversion by trumpet 2, in
obsolescence of 'batch-oriented' compu- procedures must be simple enough to run retrogradeby trumpet 1 and in retrograde
ters programmed by stacks of punched in real time. Along with random selection, inversion by the bass. Not shown in this
cardsin favor of 'on-line' systems, eitherin some of the more familiar procedures excerpt is the operation of indirect
the form of single-user computers and falling within this category are traditional transposition, which Ghent calls trans-
minicomputers dedicated to real-time motivic operations. The most active users location. Translocation is performed by
functions or of large time-shared systems of GROOVE were Emmanuel Ghent adding a constant modulo 15 to each
capable of servicing many users simulta- beginning in 1968 [76-78] and Laurie successive position in a function.
neously. The new fashion for on-line Spiegel beginning in 1974 [79-81]. Concerning the role of the computer in
computing found its musical counterpart The first piece to involve the GROOVE this process, Ghent states:
in utilities motivated largely by a desire to facility directly in compositional decision
facilitate rapid interaction between making was Ghent's 1974 Lustrum.
Lustrumis scored for a quintet of special Theuseof theindirectpitchreferencing
composer and sound: Max Mathews and
technique ... is indeed possible without
Richard Moore's 1968 GROOVE [58- electronic stringedinstrumentsdeveloped the help of a computerbut the labor
63]; Leland Smith's 1972 SCORE [64] by Mathews (among other things, these involvedin spellingout all mannerof
(later converted into a music printing instruments could be set to emulate possiblevariantswouldbe prohibitive.
program); Barry Truax's 1973 POD with brassy timbres), for conventional brass Also the more one hears what the
its subsequent enhancements [65-68]; quintet and for computer-generatedtape; computeris producingin responseto
one'sownselectiveprocesses,the more
Herbert Brun's 1976 SAWDUST [69] the piece also exists in an all-computer ideas suggest themselves as further
and William Buxton's 1978 SCED [70- version entitled Brazen. avenuesfor variation[82].
73]. Such utilities were coupled inevitably Lustrum (or Brazen) has its genesis in
with sound synthesis, at first through the 15-element "pitch-set" depicted in Subsequent to Lustrum,Ghent developed
compositional algorithms based on the
"linearization"of chordal structures[83].
f 2- *4 "'7 *0I- Since he had already employed similar
'I techniques in manually composed works
I 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 for small ensembles, Ghent regarded his
programming as "teaching the computer
Fig. 13. Pitch set for Emmanuel Ghent's Lustrum. Redrawn from Ghent, "Real-Time Interactive
to think the way [Ghent] thought,
CompositionalProcedures"[58]. compositionally"-although Ghent re-

178 Ames, Automated Composition

= 105


ff -tpl
_ . -v-_ -- w

Fig. 14. EmmanuelGhent, Lustrum,1974, measures208-212. Copyright1978 PersimmonPress, 131 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A. Used by
permissionof the publisher.

served the option to modify what the percent, or anywhere in between, by the 'new generation' of composers seeking
computer produced. turning a knob while listening to the creative assistance from computers are
A variety of comments by Spiegel music evolve [the position of the knob
at each moment would be recorded by
Larry Austin, Claudio Baffioni [87],
illustrateshow a composer might typically GROOVE for later playback]; or I Clarence Barlow [88-90], Tommaso
interact in real time with GROOVE. To could throw a switch to change over to Bolognesi [91], Lelio Camilleri, Joel
create her 1974 composition Patchwork, an entirely different set of rules [85]. Chadabe, Thomas DeLio, Charles Dodge
for example, Spiegel developed programs [92], David Feldman, Christopher Fry
that monitored GROOVE's input devices [93], Peter Gena [94], Francesco Guerra
Truax and Buxton
in order to "derive from [them] much [95], Christos Hatzis [96], Steven
more complex music than [Spiegel] Two Canadians who had studied under Holtzman [97,98], Kevin Jones [99], Gary
actually played". Spiegel has commented Koenig and Laske, Barry Truax and Kendall [100], Shirish Korde, Petr Kotik,
as follows: William Buxton, have since organized Ron Kuivila, LauraTedeschini Lalli [101],
computer music studios respectively in David Levitt [102], Denis Lorrain [103],
The programI wrote for [Patchwork] Vancouver and Toronto. In addition to Leonard Manzara [104], Larry Polansky,
had all Bach's favorite [motivic] developing real-time performance systems, CurtisRoads [105-108], David Rothenberg
manipulations-retrograde,inversion, both Truax and Buxton have developed [109], Andrew Schloss, William
augmentation,diminution,transposi- non-real-time environments which permit Schottstaedt [110], Sever Tipei [111],
tion-available on switches, knobs,
users to get by with little or no pro- Horacio Vaggione, Charles Wourinen,
pushbuttons,and keys, so that I could
manipulatethe 4 simplemelodicand 4 gramming. These environments enable David Zicarelliand myself [ 112-120].The
rhythmicpatterns with them in the users to monitor results closely as a extent of this new activity has been far too
samewaythata playerof aninstrument composition takes shape. They minimize great to continue with a detailed survey of
manipulatesindividualtones. (I did delays in non-real-time interaction by pieces, so I shall limit my remaining
edit it a lot, too.) [84]
providing a menu of precompiled "macros" examplesto significantworksthat have not
The melodic patterns mentioned by (Buxton's term) and by incorporating been describedpreviously in the literature.
Spiegel were representedby her programs facilities for rapidly evaluating musical Further details may be obtained from the
as "relative (intervallic) distances" from a products, specifically: real-time digital works cited in the References and Notes.
"pitch reference point" which Spiegel synthesis augmented visually by graphic
could control in real time from her displays. Laske [86] has documented how
he built up his 1980 composition Thomas DeLio
keyboard. Elsewhere Spiegel describes
some of the 'higher-level' methods of Terpsichore as a succession of increasingly Thomas DeLio's 1976 Serenade for
controlling the musical evolution of her elaborate "subscores", using macros solo piano is an elaborate work for which
1975MusicforDance through GROOVE's supplied by Buxton's SCED (SCore the form was composed manually while
input devices: EDiting) utility. the details were selected automatically.
The Serenade has three parts, each
BecauseI couldhearthe musicplayed consisting of 10sections;markedcontrasts
VI. NEW APPROACHES: 1976-1986 and occasional long silences between
while computationwas in progress,I
couldchoosewhichmusicaldecisionsI Recent efforts have shown a new many of these sections give the Serenade
wanted to make, leaving the rest to sophistication toward automated deci- an episodic quality congenial to its title.
follow the logic I had coded .... For
sion making along with increased machine The work is built up from a number of
example,I couldsettheprobabilitythat
a certain pitch would be played on participation in decisions affecting large- primary rhythmicpatterns and chromatic
strong beats at zero percent, at 100 scale compositional form. Included among cells. Part I introduces these ideas in

Ames, Automated Composition 179


"embryonic states"; they emerge "fully Rhythm. Over the first 17 quarters, the one from one quarter to the next. This
formed" in Part II, which also serves a rhythm coalesces from a sparse, irregular process resulted in the following chain:
developmental purpose; Part III extra- texture to a consistent 7:4 pattern. DeLio
polates several of the ideas from earlier accomplished this evolution by treating 566777878899 10 10 10 10 10 10...
parts into "broad sweeping guestures". each quarter as a statistical frame whose
Figure 15 reproduces Part I, Section 10 elements are the 29 unequal rhythmic Once these numbers have been deter-
of the Serenade.The basic ideas employed units obtained by interfering septuplet mined, DeLio's program locates these
in this section are a 7:4 polyrhythm and thirty-secondsagainst duple sixty-fourths. attacks within each quarter by selecting
two chromatic cells: G# B C D and its A graphic depiction of the resulting without replacement from the units
reflection, G# A# B D. Registers are pattern appears in Fig. 16. In this section depicted in Fig. 16. Initially, each unit
distributed uniformly over the range of the Serenade,only one note may attack receives equal weight; as the rhythm
from middle C upward. The section at a time; the number of attacks per evolves, the off-beat thirty-seconds and
consists of two gradual evolutions, each quarter results from a "first-order sixty-fourths receive less and less weight
lasting 17 quarters. The following transition prQcess"(i.e. a Markov chain) until only the 7:4 pattern remains. This
breakdown of methods for handling in which the number of attacks may either pattern holds consistently through the
rhythm and pitch is based upon a letter stay the same, increase by one or (with remaining 17 quarters.
from DeLio to the author: relatively small probability) decrease by
Pitch. At the beginning of Section 10,
j = 60n DeLio's programselectsdegreesuniformly
r ~ 7 . -r
7 Z -- z

with replacement from G#, B, C and D.

m- 7 -T Through the first 17 quarters the likeli-
i. =
Q= _ -
( I - 4 7 X 7
IAi--= -- --
' F' a hood of selecting C decreases gradually
while the likelihood of selecting A#
t r, r , -r 7x,r gradually increases, so that G#, A#, B
and D receive uniform weight at the mid-
&~dXBy * point of the section. Over the remaining
17 quarters, the weights for G#, B and D
decrease gradually until only A# remains
at the end of the section.

The effectiveness of composing pro-
gramshas beenimprovedradicallythrough
the introduction in recent years of
recursive programming techniques; the
first major area of activity relying heavily
on such techniqueshas beenthe application
of Noam Chomsky's phrase-structure
grammarsto composition. This approach
enables a composer to describe musical
forms economically, by first providing a
general archetype (or axiom) of the form
and by further listing a set of productions
for deriving details from generalities. The
full power of such an approach can be
attained only if the productions are
capable of acting upon their own results
(i.e. capable of recursion).
Although Curtis Roads had already
described an elaborate left-to-right
composing program called PROCES-
S/ING as early as 1975 [121, 122], his
advocacyof top-downChomskianmethods
[123] has achieved the most influence.
I Roads'semphasisupon productionsclassi-
fied by Chromsky as context-free was
quickly extended to embrace other
Chomskian ideas such as context-sensitive
productions and simple transformationsin
Steven Holtzman's 1980 "A Generative
Grammar Definitional Language for
Music" [124]. In Kevin Jones's 1981
"stochasticweb grammars"[125], context-
Fig. 15. ThomasDeLio, Serenade, 1976, Part I, Section 10. Copyright1976 ThomasDeLio. Reprinted free productions are employed to carve
by permissionof the composer. up a region of musical space (described in

180 Ames, Automated Composition

I xL x
xI l lx Ix Ix l l x I modeling [130] of compositional process
in two-part sixteenth-century counter-
xl x point. Ebcioglu's was the first program
xI I I I I I x I II since Gill's to implement a fully rigorous
constrained search with scheduling and
Ix 11 I I I l 11 H I xlx 11 IIxl I lxl I backtracking. He has since employed
such methods with great success in
resultingfroma 7:4polyrhythm.
Fig. 16. Interferences
simulating J.S. Bach's procedures for
Jones's simplest examples by boundaries Fractal C and Charles Dodge's 1984 harmonizingchorales[131];similarsuccess
for time and pitch coordinates) into pro- Profile [127]. in chorale harmonization has been docu-
gressively smaller chunks until specific mented by Marilyn Thomas [132].
descriptions of notes have been obtained. Artificial Intelligence I employed comparative searches to
None of the speculations by Roads, create my own 1981 Protocol for piano
An especially potent approach that
Holtzman or Jones resulted, to my know- [133]; but since that time I have created a
also relies on recursive programming
ledge, in more than a few brief, illustrative number of original compositions using
techniques has drawn from Artificial constrained searches [134]. In particular,
musicalexamples. Ironically,my own 1980 Intelligence in order to implement
Crystalsfor string orchestra[126] resulted my method of 'statistical feedback' [135]
decision-making processes that employ has provided a determinate strategy for
from top-down productions similar to searches to discriminate actively between
Jones's. However, my methods were reconciling long-term statistical distri-
multiple options. Such searches typically butions with short-term stylistic and
derived in response to the Gestalt incorporate one or moreprioritizations- idiomaticconstraints.The set of composing
hierarchies of James Tenney-only after- functions that measure in numeric terms
warddid I discoverwhat Roads, Holtzman programs I developed for the U.S.
(positive or negative, depending on the
and Jones had done. pavilion at Expo '85 in Tsukuba, Japan
application) how each option available to
Tenney himself has resumed involve- [136], and the programs for my 1986 solo
a decision will contribute to the resulting
ment with composing programs after a violin piece, Concurrence[137], employ
musical context. In the author's ter-
20-year hiatus. In his 1983/1984 Bridge 'linked' data structures, such as 'lists',
minology [128], search-based programs 'trees' and 'networks', to represent th;
for two retuned pianos, eight hands, divide into two classes:
Tenney fuses hierarchic ideas from his complex interrelationships between ele-
Bell Labs period with a slightly more 1. Comparativesearchessystemati- ments both of the musical scores
recentinterestin the harmonicpossibilities cally enumerate every possible themselves and of the musical 'knowledge
of just intonation. Bridge consists of three configurationof decisions,evalu- base' consulted by the programs as they
sections lasting approximately 8, 13 and ating each configurationin order fabricate these scores.
21 minutes. The initial section presents a to determine the 'best' possible Many of the more recent developments
wholly random environment evocative of solution to a problem. in automatedcomposition would probably
the compositional world of John Cage; 2. Constrained searches improve not have been possible without supporting
the final section realizes a Gestalt dramatically upon the random- advances in computer technology. Back-
hierarchy in which individual notes sampling-and-testing approach tracking has been known for decades, but
combine into "elements" (chords), ele- of Hiller and Isaacson's Illiac it simply was not practical without either
ments combine into "clangs", clangs Suite. Each time such a program liberal grants of computer time or
combine into "sequences", which ulti- initiatesa decision, a constrained dedicated systems that could be left
mately combine into the section as a searchprioritizesall the available running for many hours (often overnight,
whole; the middle section effects a options from most to least in my own experience). The newest home
"bridge" from Cage's world to Tenney's. desirable and organizes these computers have changed all that. A
An excerpt from the final section appears options into a schedule. It then second important factor has been the
in Fig. 17. The notated pitches are methodicallyworks through this dramatic rise in ceilings on both
modified by the tuning system shown in schedule until it finds an option 'random-access' and 'mass-storage'
Fig. 18. that passes all the constraints. memory, coupled with the introduction
A third independent path to recur- Shouldeveryoption in a schedule of 'virtual' operating systems which allow
sive compositional procedures has prove unacceptable, the pro- a program to utilize more random-access
beenfractal geometry.Although popularly gram then backtracks, revises memory than might physically be present
associated with Benoit Mandelbrot, one or more earlier decisions in the computer. Where the original
fractals are grounded, in fact, in recursive and tries again. ILLIAC employed by Hiller and Isaacson
notions which were well understood by Although computer scientists have em- was limited to 1024 words of random-
turn-of-the-century mathematicians such ployed recursivesearches in chess-playing access memory for both composing
as Georg Cantor (inventor of the "Cantor and theorem-proving programs since the program and data, modern home com-
Set") and Giuseppe Peano (inventor of mid-1950s-and despite Stanley Gill's puterscan accessmegabytesof information
the "Peano Curve").Mandelbrot'swritings demonstration with his 1963 computer- rapidly. Only the barest fraction of this
proved a source of inspiration to Charles composed Variationson a Themeby Berg potential has been exploited to date.
Wourinen, who has explored fractals [129] that backtracking could be an
both in a set of short computer-composed effective tool in composing programs-
studies realized around 1980 and in more the approach has mostly been ignored Interactive Utilities of the 1980s
recentmanuallycomposed works. Fractals until very recently. This pattern was The tradition of 'interactive' com-
have since provided the impetus for broken by Larry Polansky's 1975 Four- positional utilities has been extended into
several computer-composed pieces in- Voice Canons, composed by a program the 1980s with work undertaken by Curtis
cluding Larry Austin's 1981 Canadian with non-rigorous backtracking, and Roads and David Levitt at the
Coastlines, Horacio Vaggione's 1984 independently by Kemal Ebcioglu's 1980 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ames, Automated Composition 181

Roads's 1982 IOS [138] is a utility for
"interactive orchestration based on score
analysis", in which parsing and pattern-
II I1 matching algorithms are employed to
8I~ 1" P

isolate musical "objects" for user modi-

fication. (Although Roads has cited IOS
as a musical application of Artificial
Intelligence, his descriptions of this
program indicate that IOS makes few
decisions on its own and that the program
makes no use whatsoever of recursive
searches.) David Levitt's 1986 KIT [139]
is a graphic editor that enables users to
patch together icons representing ele-
mentary operations on streams of note
data into real-time networks. Included
among the most elementary of Levitt's
operationsmightbe inputfroma keyboard,
irb " , t-i L -P- button or slider (physical or virtual),
output to a synthesizer, generators such
'MP p '"
as clocks or units analogous to the
. .- _____o "selection features" of Koenig's
(PP) P P P P 2-^L
3) P; PPi__ _ P PROJECT2 and modifiers such as adders
and delay lines for loops. Users may
define their own higher-order icons by
patching together simpler units.

For most of the composers discussed in
this article, composition has not been a
vehicle of 'expression' or 'affect' in the
usual senses of these words. Rather, these
; i P composers expect listeners to judge their
musical "artifacts", as Barbaud called
them, on the basis of more abstract
aesthetic qualities such as balance, clarity,
depth (in the hierarchic sense) and so
,y "~
,% ,r'T. forth. They have used computers to
create these artifacts because they believe
that such qualities are quantifiable-at
least within the scope of a particular
work-and they have concluded from
experience that there are many com-
wp positional problems that computers are
better equipped than humans to solve.
Considered individually, many of the
earlier efforts described in this article
have been quite simple. This simplicity
has been due partially to limits imposed
by technology and partially to the spirit
of the 1960s and 1970s, when economy of
musical process was itself considered a
8 P virtue. Today, a one-pass, self-contained
:c- a , D
79'o" composing program such as Ebcioglu's
Bach simulator [140] might involve as
many as 7,000 lines of highly concise
code. An alternative approach employed
St by DeLio, Barlow [141] and myself [142]
has been to divide the overall com-
P X- positional process into multiple phases,
each undertaken by a separate program.
Fig. 17. James Tenney,Excerptfrom Bridge, 1984, for two pianos.The elapsedtime fromthe beginning
of the performanceis indicated in minutes and seconds at the end of each system of staves. Notated Taken collectively, the compositions
pitches are modified by the tuning system shown in Fig. 18. The rhythmic notation shows relative surveyed here present a rich diversity of
attack-pointsby their horizontalplacementon the page. Unbeamed,solid noteheadsindicatestaccato; techniques for programming computers
beamed notes last either up to the next stem or to the end of the beam; open noteheads employ pedal. to compose music. Practically all the
Copyright 1985 Sonic Art Editions, 2617 GwynndaleAvenue,Baltimore, MD 21207, U.S.A. Used by
permissionof the publisher.

182 Ames, Automated Composition

20. J. Myhill,"ControlledIndeterminacy:
First Step towards a Semi-Stochastic
Music Language", Computer Music
Journal3, No. 3 (1979). Reprintedin
Foundationsof ComputerMusic, C. Roads
and J. Strawn,eds. (Cambridge,MA:
Hillerand Ames[2].
21. Hillerand Baker[3].
22. GyorgyLigeti,"PierreBoulez:Entschei-
\C \Gt Eb Bb dung und Automatikin der Structure
AFt Ia", Die Reihe IV: JungeKomponisten,K.
-16.77 ( ) --/ 5/3 5/4 15/8- - 7/5 - 21/20
-1.1 -3.0 -5.0o +0.8-1.28 . StockhausenandH. Eimert,eds.(Vienna:
\ Piano\..2\ \. Edition,1958)p.33.Translated
\ \
\c \\
by Leo Black, under the title "Pierre
-33.3f (i )- 14/9- 7/6 7/4 Boulez: Decision and Automatismin
V.+1.8 -0.2t +2.1#
Structure Ia", Die Reihe IV: Young
Composers(BrynMawr, PA: Theodore
Presser,1960)p. 36.
Fig. 18. TuningsystemforJamesTenney'sBridge. 23. Hillerand Isaacson[5].
24. Hillerand Baker[3].
approaches employed today have pre- 25. Fora discussionof Tenney'sactivitiesas
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184 Ames, Automated Composition

137. Ames [120]. was able to represent them as algebraic insightful character. For instance, a paradigm
138. Roads [108]. manipulations-hence the qualification, in a discussion involving several basic premises
139. Yavelow [102]. "formal". would be an example that reveals the interplay
140. Ebcioglu [131]. between most or all of these premises.
141. Barlow [89]. frame-a 'frozen' moment of time; the analogy
142. Ames [113-117, 120]. is drawn from cinematography. An important Peano Curve-derived by infinite recursion,
143. Koenig [40]. instance within the context of this article is the the Peano Curve is a geometric abstraction
statistical frame, which denotes a segment of which defies many of our most basic intuitions
music over which a 'momentary' statistical concerning how a 'curve' should behave. It has
distributionis realizedby a composing program. the following properties: every point in the
curve resides at the corner of a right angle, and
Gestalt psychology-the study of the perceptual the 'loops' of the curve are infinitely dense in
algorithm-a computational procedure which, factors affecting how elements of the environ- any region (no matter how small) where the
after a finite (but possibly very large) number ment are combined mentally into larger forms curve is defined. Yet the Peano Curve never
of steps, always returns either a correct ('gestalts'). An outgrowth of commonsense crosses itself! Cf. E. Kramer, The Nature and
solution or the answer that such a solution observations made in Wertheimer's 1921 Growth of Modern Mathematics (Princeton,
does not exist. article "Laws of Organization in Perceptual NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982) pp. 528-
Forms", and a precursor to the modern 529.
Artificial Intelligence-emulation by computer discipllineof cognitive psychology.
of human problem-solving activities. An prioritization-a procedure that ranks a set of
outgrowth of automatic chess-playing pro- heurism (or heuristic)-a computational pro- objects or tasks in order of preference or
cedures proposed by Shannon in 1950 and of cedure which "proceeds along empirical lines, urgency.
theorem-proving programs developed shortly using rules of thumb, to find solutions or
thereafter by Simon, Newell and Shaw in answers" (from Webster's Dictionary). random-refers to a process the outcomes of
response to Shannon's proposals. Heurisms are less precise than algorithms,but which are unpredictable or patternless over the
they sometimes have the advantage of being short term.
automated composition-any use of computer usable under less-than-optimal conditions:
programs that undertake decisions affecting where an algorithm must always either returna
recursion-the ability of a process to act upon
the content of a musical composition. correct solution or fail, a heurism can return a
its own results. Recursive techniques make it
solution which is mostly correct, but which
possible to implement computational processes
Cantor Set-invented in the course of Cantor's might deviate occasionally from a few less- that are able, in effect, to propagate 'copies' of
mathematical investigations of infinity, a than-critical specifications.
themselves. Such processes can spawn multiple
Cantor Set may be derived from an unbroken
sub-processes; these in turn can spawn sub-
segment of the real-number line as follows: hierarchy-a structure in which the inter-
sub-processes, and so on to arbitrary levels of
divide the segment into three equal portions, relationships resemble the chain of authority
exclude the middle portion, and apply the among priests in an organized religion (hieros
same procedure of division and exclusion means 'sacred'); each entity in a hierarchy may
statistical distribution-the relative amounts
recursively to each remaining portion. One have any number of 'inferiors' but only one
direct 'superior'. Hierarchiesare often referred by which differing types occur within a
might surmise intuitively that such a set would
dwindle away to nothing; however, Cantor to by computer scientists as tree structures. population of elements.
proved intuition wrong: his set in fact contains
a unique counterpart for every number on the left-to-right-refers to a strategy of handling stochastic-literally synonymous with
infinite real-number line. Cf. R. Courant and tasks as they arise, as contrasted with top- 'random'; however, discussions of 'stochastic'
H. Robbins, What Is Mathematics? 4th Ed. down and other strategies that might defer less processes (as in Xenakis's 1971 book [7])
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1947)pp. urgent tasks. typically reflect a concern for the large-scale
248-249. distributions of outcomes.
list-a structure in which each element has at
formal grammar-refers to the theory of most one 'predecessor' and one 'successor'. top-down-refers to a process that deals first
"linguistic competence" developed during the with generalitiesand which utilizes the 'insights'
1950sby Chomsky. Chomsky divides grammars Markov chain-a 'left-to-right' chain of events gained thereby to cope with more specific
into two main classes: "phrase-structure in which the outcome of each individual event tasks.
grammars", which are sets of top-down rules is conditioned by the outcome of its immediate
determining how the whole of a statement predecessor. withreplacement/withoutreplacement-a favo-
relates to its parts (its phrases, clauses, etc.), rite paradigm among probability theorists is
and "transformational grammars", which are network-a structure in which each element that of blindly drawing colored balls from an
sets of procedures for modifying phrase can have any number of direct relationships to urn, where the probabilities are determined by
structures in order to produce well-defined any number of other elements. Networks are the proportions of balls of particular colors to
changes in 'meaning' (e.g. mild transfor- also known among computer scientists as the total number of balls. Such selection is said
mations from active voice to passive, from first directedgrap/s. A good example of a network to occur with replacementif balls are returned
person to third, from present tense to past, or is the structuredeveloped by Roget for his 1852 directly to the urn after each draw and without
more radicaltransformations such as negation, Thesaurus. replacementif newly drawn balls are set aside.
logical inference, and so on). Because such Obviously, the distributionof colors is reflected
rules and procedures are typically independent paradigm-a pattern, example or model, much more accurately over the short term by
of the specific content of a statement, Chomsky typically of a 'classic', 'shining' or particularly the latter method.

Ames, Automated Composition 185