Algorithmic composition

Found this via the Cycling74 mailing list:

Some very good reading here. Anyone else have good links for algorithmic composition?


Lots of citations and links to software here:

haven’t gotten around to reading this yet but at a glance seems like a good article, and there are some resources linked in the comments too:


Some interesting references related to this in this topic:

And this is a perennial subject in Computer Music Journal.

Tons of ideas in this thread:

Also mentioned in that thread, but worthy of its own post is Karlheinz Essl’s Realtime Composition Library:


Good god this place is bursting at the seems with ideas

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MIT’s course about Algorithmic and Generative Music is available online.
The course is from 2010, but I guess it’s all still relevant!


This is an interesting program for algorithmic composition : AC Toolbox

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Was the Ac Toolbox an inspiration for Teletype?

Mark Fell and Joe Gilmore’s Composing with Process: Perspectives and Generative and Systems Music podcast


I’m just about to start on Ch. 9 of Musicmathics, it had this quote from Ada Lovelace…

[The Analytical Engine] might act upon other things besides number, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine…

Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.

This (to me at least), is very emotive given that she’s the first computer programmer.

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I just read “Six Techniques for Algorithmic Music Composition” by Peter S. Langston. Some interesting ideas in there.

I’m pretty new to the whole algorithmic composition thing but there’s some ideas I’ve been kicking around for a while I want to experiment with.


This was also a good video:

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I just gave a talk on algorithmic composition for a Milwaukee Music Software Developers meetup last month. It’s less a technical talk with specifics about implementation and more a tour of approaches that I was hoping would spark some ideas for folks in the meetup who were looking to try working with algorithmic music for the first time.

Slides are here: (use arrow keys to navigate)

Audio of the talk (just a dump from my h4n) is here:


acdwn2 is on elseq 4, not 1 :wink:

Great presentation though. I’ve been thinking about these topics a lot lately. Really starting to dig in to SC after I found it to be a much better match for my brain / workflow than Max.

oh whoops, good spot – i’ll fix the slide at least!

i’m glad the recording was intelligible enough, thanks!

Since getting some exposure from the live coding thread, and from learning SuperCollider on my own, I’ve been thinking a lot about algorithmic composition.

What is and isn’t algorithmic composition?

Are there any “algorithmic” composers?

How do you apply algorithmic ideas to your music/other art?

When I think of the word algorithm I believe it means a set of steps to carry out a task or solve a problem. When I am thinking of algorithmic music at the present time I think more about probability and experimentation, setting up conditions and seeing what the result is as it occurs. I am not sure where the connections are and where the ideas overlap.

Might want to check some of these previous threads:

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And another (very recent) thread: