Technology-assisted collage and cut up technique

Hello there!

I’m trying to bootstrap myself with writing lyrics and getting over the “fear of a blank page”.

I can imbue words and sounds with meaning but want to have some language down “on paper” to meditate over to start off so I don’t worry so much at the start about profundity.

Ideally, I would love to create a script that would use a text file as input, apply a template with some parameters (name of song segment, lines, syllables per line) and output lines of words from the text that fit. Bonus would be more markov chain functionality and easy parsing of mobi/ePub/PDF.

3 foo foo foo
5 …
3 …

Is this something someone has already done? I bet at least some of the components exist in some Python library that I can weave together.

Certainly I have a paper library I can use a RNG to specify page/word of any particular book, but syllable pre-selection would take me a bit further into more completed songs.

Any other fun découpé or concrète workflow to share?


Maybe check out what AI can do about it. It’s producing grrreat poetic sequences already

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an alternative to text generation using ML or deep learning is @AkiraRabelais’s program Argeïphontes Lyre. IIRC it does exactly what you want (take in some text and put out something different) (see bottom of the website for “text filters”)

(and it’s a nifty program for sounds too!)


Plumes by Jine should be right up your alley!


A buddy of mine (David Pocknee) did a deep dive on the permutated poems of Brion Gysin that you may find interesting:

Loads of algorithm and code examples in there.


I really love these ideas. I’ve recently started collecting rants from social media to repurpose through text to speech programs. I am doing this manually which includes adjusting the text to suit the delivery I anticipate but I am keen to see some of the responses here that show how some part of this or related processes may be automated. The goal would be to be able to perform the process in a compelling manner.
Further, collage visual art is something I am very fond of doing so am also keen to see ideas around this too. Thanks for the thread

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I always advocate JanusNode - - a text generation and randomization program which I’ve been using since my teens when it was called McPoet :slight_smile: And have contributed some ‘TextDNA’ scripts over the years. Used this to generate a lot of Cementimental track titles and also to design an art installation piece long before I’d heard of Keith Tyson’s ‘artmachine’


Thanks for bringing up this topic! It’s something I’ve always wanted to explore more with my own writing. As of late I’ve been doing more cut-ups, but with programs that just randomly mince your text, like Stickbucket’s Ultimate Cut-Up Generator. It’ll be cool to use some of the programs suggested and try different things.

I’ve been kicking this idea around for a while now (I actually tried to learn to code to eventually make this), but it’d be really cool to have an app that could do manual cut-ups—like, instead of applying randomization, you could do what Burroughs and Gysin did and apply some control, but without the hassle of paper debris.


Relatedly, I recently-ish learned that TextEdit on OSX can do multi-line box selections if you hold down alt! + can paste across multiple lines accordingly. So you can do fold-ins / the cutting a page into quarters and rearranging kind of stuff

I still have some of my teenage cutups online on ancient half broken websites :smiley: I used to do them on paper then OCR-scan them for the web Gleam of a thousand bits and pieces


Oh dang, thanks for the heads-up! This is a game-changer for me, haha. Btw, I love the work on that link you posted!


AI chat/text bots are interesting too, eg InferKit where you type a prompt and it continues. I was messing with Talktotransformer quite a bit a while back, the original version almost everytime came out with VERY CREEPY stuff to the point where it made me feel so weird I had to stop using it… very sinister dreamlike scenarios complete with plausible-looking URLs, names, citations etc which were all completely fictional. But then they supposedly updated it to be ‘better’ but all I could get out of it any more were boring sports journalism-esque texts with actual real names etc


Here’s another one.

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I think Gnoetry does what you’re looking for. It analyzes / combines texts and uses Markov chains to help create generative poetry. There are lots of command line utilities that can extract the text from PDFs if that’s the source material you want to use. Beard of Bees - Download Poetry by Gnoetry


A childhood friend and my entry into the field circa 199X (he did most of the work)


Thanks everyone who responded or enjoyed the concept! I’m currently building markov chain tables and playing around with Janus Node with some favorite literature ebooks (auto-stripped of formatting to plaintext in Calibre).

Will move on to more custom libraries when I’ve gotten familiar with the limitations and process of interactive generated poetry a bit more!

Edit: One additional find- nossidge • Snowball Poem Generator -...

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Do you happen to know if it has to be a certain kind of text file that is fed into this? I’ve tried plain text ones and they don’t show up as an option from finder! :confused:

Yes, it’s works with text (@“txt”,@“TXT”,@“text”,@“TEXT”) files.


thanks for the text edit tip, I was looking for something to cut and paste in and out of Orca and this is the feature I needed.

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Another question I do ask, are there any stylized tools for working with digital audio as if it were tape?

Not my usual wave editors, something abstracted that i can “play” to some degree and sculpt without getting fussy about time and handles and loop points.

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First two have a tape/matrix mixer type interface, whereas AL is very hands off and has distinct processing modules.