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Overhearing Complexity

Katarina Miljkovic
Organization: New England Conservatory of Music

2005 Wolfram Technology Conference
Conference location

Champaign IL

In Western tradition, the music-science-nature discourse can be traced from ancient Greeks and Pythagorean music theory, based on numerical ratios, to strict algorithmic composition, established in the 1950s by composers John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Iannis Xenakis, and others. Borrowing of organizational systems outside of music, like game theory, fractal geometry, chaos theory, probability laws, granular synthesis, and so on, pushed the boundaries and opened new ways in music composition. Use of cellular automata, evolving in recent years, is yet another approach to new creativity.

As a composer, I have always been fascinated and inspired by the crossover between music and science, so it seemed inevitable that I would come across Stephen Wolframís research. About a year ago, I initiated an exploration of A New Kind of Science and, together with members of the Wolfram Research team, extended the application of elementary rules to music. This presentation is an attempt to collect and summarize my ongoing experiences in sound experimentation within the framework of A New Kind of Science. The focus will be on three main points. First, through the mapping of representative rules into a pitch scale, vertical sonorities, rhythm, and sound color, Iíll demonstrate that each of the four classes generates its own musical style through a characteristic rhythmic activity and frequency spectrum. I will also be careful to explain the mapping decisions, which proved to be a nontrivial issue. Second, Iíll examine variations of music material produced by the elementary rules within the same class and point to similarities and differences in their spatial and temporal aspects. Third, Iíll demonstrate that an endless number of permutations can be generated from a single rule by changing its initial conditions and explain the significance of this procedure for development of a musical form.

At the end of my presentation, Iíll address the implications of the preceding points for further research, music composition, and performance in real time using NKM Composer.

*Arts and Humanities > Music

Katarina Miljkovic.zip (10 MB) - ZIP archive