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Math Media Music

An Experiment in A New Kind of Music 282

waynegoode writes "Stephen Wolfram's Wolfram Research has produced an new application: WolframTones-- 'An Experiment in A New Kind of Music'. It combines the principles in Stephen's book, 'A New Kind of Science' and Mathematica to 'instantly create unique music' in many different styles. They describe it as pretty neat as well as being scientifically interesting, and useful. After listening to some compositions and creating a few random ones myself, I must agree that it is. And anyone who has listen to the radio the last few years could certainly use some unique music."
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An Experiment in A New Kind of Music

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  • Zamyatkin's We (Score:5, Informative)

    by silvergoose ( 807387 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @02:39AM (#13524936)
    Anyone else read Zamyatkin's We?

    Scary, scary idea. A paraphrase from it: 'Composition was once a sort of trance where slightly insane people wrote music down feverishly. Our way, based on mathematics, is much better. Regular, based on curves and graphs.'

  • All right overall (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Madd Rapper ( 886657 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @02:45AM (#13524957)
    These sound like video game stage music. Maybe it's just the MIDI. But I don't know; I could envision an RPG or Megaman or fighting game to every tone it generated. Maybe someone's job just got a lot easier.
  • New? (Score:3, Informative)

    by opencity ( 582224 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @02:47AM (#13524962) Homepage
    I listened to the first few and, at best, they sound like something you'd skip over on a CZ101. Perhaps I should read the hype before commenting but elevator-electronic music has been around since ... [insert Moog (RIP) ref here].

    Without anything approaching Steve Reich or any of the techno programmers of the last 20 or so years I don't see why this is interesting. They already have computers that can write music (see: Babyface)
  • Re: Wolfram (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sartak ( 589317 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @03:04AM (#13525012) Homepage

    On pages 7-10:

    Physics: "In the future of physics the greatest triumph would undoubtedly be to find a truly fundamental theory for our whole universe. Yet despite occasional optimism, traditional approaches do not make this seem close at hand. But with the methods and intuition I develop in this book there is I believe finally a serious possibility that such a theory can actually be found."

    Social Sciences: "...I suspect that one will often have a much better chance of capturing fundamental mechanisms for phenomena in the social sciences by using instead the new kind of science that I develop in this book based on simple programs."

    Computer Science: "One consequence [of this book's material] is a dramatic broadening of the domain to which computational ideas can be applied--in particular to include all sorts of fundamental questions about nature and about mathematics."

    Philosophy: "But my discoveries in this book lead to radically new intuition. And with this intuition it turns out that one can for the first time began to see resolutions to many longstanding issues..."

    There's plenty more where this came from.

  • Not music (Score:5, Informative)

    by delta_avi_delta ( 813412 ) <[dave.murphy] [at] []> on Saturday September 10, 2005 @03:10AM (#13525033)
    When it comes down to it, this is a way of interpretting a psuedeo random series of dots in a grid. Saying it's a "new kind of music" is a bit misleading - There's no flow, no beginning, no middle, no end. It's a new way of randomly generating midi note events within certain constraints.
  • Re:All right overall (Score:4, Informative)

    by earnest murderer ( 888716 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @03:13AM (#13525040)
    Agreed, windows ships with such a lousy synth and samples it's near impossible for midi files to sound anything like music. There are pleanty of freely available samples ( [] - should help considerably) and you can find something that will improve the experience considerably.
  • by speculatrix ( 678524 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @03:39AM (#13525110)
    I remember an early amiga program which generated music and had this sort of graphical display - lines, blocks etc.

    I think it was "Instant Music" from Electronic arts, but I can't be sure. I'd have to go into my attic to find the disk... and the Amiga.

    Ok, the algorithm might me more sophisticated to generate something less apparently random noise, but I wouldn't rush out to buy the "music" it generates.

  • Prior art? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Google85 ( 797021 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @04:18AM (#13525209)
    From "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" By "Douglas Adams" (Talking About a Financial
    spreadsheet program for the Mac) :
    'You see, any aspect of a piece of music can be expressed as a sequence or pattern of numbers,'
    enthused Richard. 'Numbers can express the pitch of notes, the length of notes, patterns of pitches and
    'You mean tunes,' said Reg. The carrot had not moved yet.
    Richard grinned.
    'Tunes would be a very good word for it. I must remember that.'
    'It would help you speak more easily.' Reg returned the carrot to his plate, untasted. 'And this
    software did well, then?' he asked.
    'Not so much here. The yearly accounts of most British companies emerged sounding like the Dead
    March from Saul, but in Japan they went for it like a pack of rats. It produced lots of cheery company
    anthems that started well, but if you were going to criticise you'd probably say that they tended to get a
    bit loud and squeaky at the end. Did spectacular business in the States, which was the main thing,
    commercially. Though the thing that's interesting me most now is what happens if you leave the accounts
    out of it. Turn the numbers that represent the way a swallow's wings beat directly into music. What
    would you hear? Not the sound of cash registers, according to Gordon.'
  • Re: Wolfram (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2005 @05:53AM (#13525426)
    Well, the music is stunning. But definately not in the "oh my god that's beautiful" sort of stunning. More in the "Wow, not only is it poorly written, but the instrunments are all wrong and even the performance is poorly executed" sort of way.

    Sure, maybe someday computers will be able to write good music (and I'm not saying have it pump out a million songs and then have a human choose the good ones.) But this ain't it. So it does nothing to prove his theories.
  • by baadger ( 764884 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @06:41AM (#13525501)
    Windows users: Follow sister post's URL and complete quicktime midi configuration instructions. It works well with Quicktime Alternative [] just go via control panel, quicktime, browser tab.

    To bypass all the javascript and all other shit:
    1. Grab the URL from the bottom of the generate page
      • 30N7BgRQF8HB4rsF1vv3MUZQOob
    2. Take the ID from the end
      • Ge0VOcDtDGMSHE1qTfMi30N7BgRQF8HB4rsF1vv3MUZQOob
    3. Append this to jsp?id= []
    4. Open it in your browser.
    5. No shit (profit!)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2005 @07:34AM (#13525581)
    Generative music like this goes back to Raymonds Scotts experiments with his electronium in the 50's.
    Raymond did a somewhat better job of it too. You can still get the records.

    If you want some generative music software with more depth and interest to it, check out SSEYO Koan Pro.
    You can create complex shifting compositions, or even breakbeat tunes. It also allows you to define rules as to how melody and harmony are created.
  • by ICECommander ( 811191 ) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @12:43PM (#13526444)
    In Firefox:
    1. Go to Tools.
    2. Page Info.
    3. Media.
    4. Click on the link whose type is "Embed"
    5. Click "Save As..."
    You can then use iTunes or a program of your choice to change it to another format. Enjoy.
  • Papers where ? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2005 @01:17PM (#13526569)
    Well papers published in/on:
    • Journal of Consciousness Studies
    • The Journal of Managerial Psychology
    • First Midstates Conference for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science and Mathematics
    • International Scientific Journal of Methods and Models of Complexity
    • Journal of Nursing Administration
    • Series A: Proceedings of the Romanian Academy
    • Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities
    • Poster presented at NKS 2004 (or NKS 2003)
    • Global Cosmetic Industry
    • Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation
    • Generative Art Conference
    • Determinism, Holism, and Complexity
    • Personality and Social Psychology Review
    • Trends in Ecology and Evolution
    • Boletín de la Asociación Matemática Venezolana
    • Rudy Rucker's Software Project Class
    • and, of coure, arxiv/hp/prts/brttzz/bluubb "We don't need no stinking peer review" !
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 10, 2005 @02:06PM (#13526814)
    Are you serious? Out of a huge bibliography list you cherry pick some suspect candidates, but ignore a large number of papers in perfectly respectable journals.

    -IEEE Software
    -Physica A
    -Physica D
    -Physical Review E
    -Artificial Life
    -Journal of Difference Equations and Applications
    -Journal of Molecular Modeling
    -Journal of Integer Sequences
    -Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing,
    -Chaos, Solitons and Fractals
    -Iternational Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos in Applied Sciences and Engineering (2004)
    -Plant physiology
    -Thesis written at schools like Columbia and MIT

    You can disagree with Wolfram but it just makes my blood pressure rise when people essentially lie about the facts. And hey, just because the ideas are applicable in a broad range of unusual places like art is a good sign, not a bad one.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright