Alice Eldridge and Oliver Bown
This chapter examines a range of approaches to algorithmic music making inspired by biological systems, and considers topics at the intersection of contemporary music, computer science, and computational creativity. A summary of core precursor movements both within and beyond musical practice (A Life, cybernetics, systems art, etc.) sets the scene, before core models and algorithms are introduced and illustrated. These include evolutionary algorithms, agent-based modelling and self-organizing systems, adaptive behaviour and interactive performance systems, and ecosystemic approaches to composition and computational creative discovery. The chapter closes by reviewing themes for future work in this area: autonomy and agency, and the poetics of biologically inspired algorithms.
This chapter surveys music constraint programming systems, and how composers have used them. The chapter motivates why and explains how users of such systems describe intended musical results with constraints. This approach to algorithmic composition is similar to the way declarative and modular compositional rules have successfully been used in music theory for centuries as a device to describe composition techniques. This systematic overview highlights the respective strengths of different approaches and systems from a composer’s point of view, complementing other more technical surveys of this field. This text describes the music constraint systems PMC, Score-PMC, PWMC (and its successor Cluster Engine), Strasheela, and Orchidée—most are libraries of the composition systems PWGL or OpenMusic. These systems are shown in action by discussions of the composition processes of specific works by Jacopo Baboni Schilingi, Magnus Lindberg, Örjan Sandred, Torsten Anders, Johannes Kretz, and Jonathan Harvey.
Jared Burrows and Clyde G. Reed
Freely improvised music lacks commonly used mechanisms (e.g., scores, conductors, shared performance practices) that serve to coordinate choices across performers in other musical genres. This chapter analyses problems and solutions of musical coordination in free improvisation through the lens of “path dependence,” an analytic framework used in economics to model situations in which agents perceive a high pay-off to coordinating market choices. Key results in the path-dependence literature are the likelihood of multiple equilibria and “lock-in” to inferior outcomes. The interpersonal skills identified as critical for coordination in free improvisation closely parallel the skills that have been identified by social scientists as essential for high-functioning group behavior in non-musical pursuits. This suggests a pedagogical role for improvisation in enhancing economic and personal well-being with regard to human capital formation and happiness.
Harris M. Berger
Beginning in the late 1970s, ethnomusicologists began to engage with ideas from phenomenology (a movement within continental European philosophy). This article discusses key concepts from phenomenology and explores how ethnomusicologists developed them to address fundamental issues in the study of music and culture—the problem of musical meaning and musical interpretation, the nature of the performance event, and questions of music and being. Tracing the intellectual history of phenomenological ethnomusicology, the article synthesizes findings from research on a broad range of world areas and offers new insights into a variety of topics of interest to contemporary music scholars, including embodiment, self-reflexivity, flow and musical involvement, trance, time and temporality, and research methods. The article closes by discussing the explosion of phenomenological work in ethnomusicology that has occurred in the last seven years and suggests new directions for research, including ethnomusicological inquiry into the politics of music.
The concept of raga in Hindustani classical music is a complex phenomenon not least of all because it is simultaneously an inventory of melodic elements, a performative process, and an aesthetic outcome. These different dimensions to raga pose challenges to systematised ways of accounting for how it works in performance. Symbolic modes of thought in the tradition have long taken recourse to analogies to attempt to portray the gestalt of raga and also provide alternate modes of pedagogical knowledge and aesthetic sensibility for engaging with raga. Building on the long-held predilections between music, food, and cooking in Hindustani music, this essay provides another vantage point from which to consider raga and also the significance of rasa in the performance of raga.
Jonathan De Souza
This chapter considers musical texture as an emergent property. The first section shows how the interplay of rhythm and pitch—specifically, degrees of synchrony and similar motion—produces basic textural categories (monophony, homophony, polyphony, and heterophony). These textural types may be transformed or hierarchically combined. The second section further argues that such textural structures are supplemented by textural materials, involving timbre, articulation, dynamics, and so forth. This focus on sound quality suggests a more “tactile” approach, imagining musical texture in terms of embodied performance and instrumental materiality. The third section explores texture’s interaction with large-scale form, musical metaphor, dramatic meaning, and social values. Throughout, the chapter mixes perceptual principles and theoretical formalization with analytical comments on diverse repertoire.
This article proposes a general definition of tonic and explores its ramifications across repertories and intellectual traditions (cognitive, historical, ethnomusicological, music analytical, and phenomenological). The proposed definition admits of both wide and narrow applications: from broad conceptions that detect tonics in a wide range of world musics to a more narrow definition that limits the term (and its theoretical entailments) to bourgeois musical cultures in the West. These ideas are illustrated through discussions of diverse musical examples, from the “common practice” (Bach, Schubert) to the postwar avant-garde (Lutosławski), French house (Daft Punk), and rust-belt hard rock (Akron-based band Dia Pason).