First, I am not a musician, just a hobby programmer who tries himself on mathematical compositions with python.

I am experimenting with mathematical techniques to create sheet based music, and have searched but found little around composers who use math/algo techniques to compose music.

Do you use maybe this style of composition and what techniques do you use and how do they sound?

Thanks for your help. (Please feel free to change the tags appropriately, as I am not sure if I have tagged right.)

(If you are curious, here is a piece for 5 pianos I have written in Python: https://musescore.com/user/37663311/scores/6655514 )

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    To get feedback by human composers. – stackExchangeUser Mar 10 at 12:19
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    @stackExchangeUser You'll have a wider audience if you can make your music work straight away without requiring a score. And if it's good, someone can write a transcription. ;) If your problem is "how to get people to listen and comment on my music", then the world is full of people with the same question, regardless of genre. I'd say, most hobbyists want to play and create, not so much listen to what others make. A 40 minute piece is practically impossible - who in their right mind would want to spend 40 minutes listening to someone's music, unless they're paid to do it. ;) – piiperi Reinstate Monica Mar 10 at 12:20
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    I have tried livecoding with FoxDot and Supercollider, but I am two slow when it comes to implement my ideas live. – stackExchangeUser Mar 10 at 12:39
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    I’m voting to close this question because algorithmic composition is a broad area of music composition with many composers and techniques. It is much to broad to cover in a simple Q&A. As a suggestion, look at contemporary music journals like Perspectives of New Music, Computer Music Journal, and Music Theory Spectrum. – Aaron Mar 10 at 17:09
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    Composer Karlheinz Essl I have discovered uses these techniques and his software is available. And Brian Eno produced the Koan software although others I understand did the programming. – Ian Stewart Mar 10 at 17:44

If you want a solid foundation of how to understand the principle of mathematics in music, read this book:

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, also known as GEB, is a 1979 book by Douglas Hofstadter. By exploring common themes in the lives and works of logician Kurt Gödel, artist M. C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the book expounds concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, and intelligence. Through illustration and analysis, the book discusses how, through self-reference and formal rules, systems can acquire meaning despite being made of "meaningless" elements. It also discusses what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of "meaning" itself.

In response to confusion over the book's theme, Hofstadter emphasized that Gödel, Escher, Bach is not about the relationships of mathematics, art, and music—but rather about how cognition emerges from hidden neurological mechanisms. One point in the book presents an analogy about how individual neurons in the brain coordinate to create a unified sense of a coherent mind by comparing it to the social organization displayed in a colony of ants.

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    thanks. I have this book on my book-shelf but have never read till the end. – stackExchangeUser Mar 10 at 12:04

In terms of classical composers, Iannis Xenakis springs to mind in his use of Stochastic music, from Wikipedia:

Xenakis also developed an stochastic synthesizer algorithm (used in GENDY), called dynamic stochastic synthesis, where a polygonal waveform's sectional borders' amplitudes and distance between borders may be generated using a form of random walk to create both aleatoric timbres and musical forms.

His work also intersects architecture and includes both instrumental and early synthesised pieces.

In terms of a modern scene, 'algorave' music and live coding can produce a lot of interesting creations. A good entry point is the Tidal Cycles software built on Haskell that allows live creation of complex rhythms and composition from within VS Code/Vim etc.

Hope those 2 suggestions lead somewhere interesting, its a rabbit hole for sure :-)


For the question "where can I get free feedback for the exact obscure thing I'm doing": probably nowhere. But if you're searching for:

Composers who use mathematical / algorithmic approaches in their compositions

like the subject line says, then I'd look at electronic music genres, not classical.

I won't try to list forums and social networks where these people hang around, but I guess you'll find links. If your generative music is interesting, electronic music makers might resonate with it. Could you for example make your Python scripts dispatch MIDI events in realtime, so it could be used as source material for a modular synth?

Instead of trying to find an audience for the exact (relatively obscure!) thing you're doing, you could try to find an audience or community that's at least close to what you're doing, and try to adapt your software to that environment.

Musical notation doesn't feel like the best delivery format for generative music. If you have a generator that's capable of producing thousands of hours of music, why print it out. Those who are able to comment on music, usually want to hear it. Having it in notation doesn't add anything. But if you want your compositions to be treated as if you had hand-written them, then the fact that a computer was used for facilitating some aspects of the writing process is not really relevant, and you're just in the same line with millions of aspiring composers out there.


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