Composition, music theory, mostly Western.

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Sometime you don’t want to generate a chord, or measure a chord, or
learn a chord,
you just want to write a chord.

Helpful software for the musically vexed

  • Fabrizio Poce’s
    J74 progressive and J74 bassline
    are some chord progression
    generators from his library of very clever chord generators linked in to
    Ableton Live’s scripting engine,
    so if you
    are using Ableton they might be very handy.
    They are cheap (EUR12 + EUR15).
    I use them myself, but they DO make Ableton crash a wee bit, so not really
    suited for live performance, which is a pity because that would be a
    wonderful unique selling point.
    The realtime-oriented J74 HarmoTools from the same guy
    are less sophisticated but worth trying, especially since they are free, and
    he has lot of other clever hacks there too.
    Basically, just go to this guy’s
    site and try his stuff out. You don’t have to stop there.
  • Odesi
    (USD49) has been doing lots of advertising and has a very nice pop-interface.
    It’s like Synfire-lite with a library of pop tricks and rhythms.
    The desktop version tries to install gigabytes of synths of meagre merit on your machine,
    which is a giant waste of space an time if you are using a computer with synths on,
    which you are because this is 2016.
  • Helio is free and cross platform and totally worth a shot.
    There is a chord model in there and version control (!) but you might not notice the chord thing if you aren’t careful
  • Mixtikl / Noatikl are grandaddy apps for this, although the creators doubtless put much effort into the sleek user interfaces, their complete inability to explain their app or provide compelling demonstrations or use cases leave me cold.
    I get the feeling they had high-art aspirations but have ended up basically doing ambient noodles in order to sell product; Maybe I’m not being fair. (USD25/USD40)
  • Rapid Compose (USD99/USD249) might make decent software, but can’t really explain why their app is nice or provide a demo version.
  • synfire explains how it uses music theory to do large-scale scoring etc. Get the string section to behave itself or you’ll replace them with MIDIbots. (EUR996, so I won’t be buying it, but great demo video.)
  • harmony builder does classical music theory for you.
    USD39-USD219 depending on heinously complex pricing schemes.
    Will pass your conservatorium finals.
  • You can’t resist rolling your own?
    sharp11 is a node.js music theory library for javascript with demo application to create jazz improv.
  • Supercollider of course does this and everything else, but designing user interfaces for it will take years off your life. OTOH, if you are happy with text, this might be a goer.


Constraint Composition

All of that too mainstream? Try a weird alternative formalism!
How about constrain composition? That’s
declarative musical composition by defining constraints which the notes must satisfy.
Sounds fun in the abstract but the details don’t grab me somehow.

The reference here is strasheela built on an obscure, unpopular, and apparently discontinued Prolog-like language called “Oz” or “Mozart”, because using existing languages is not a grand a gesture as claiming none of them are quire Turing complete enough for your special thingy.

That is a bit of a ghost town;
If you wanted to actually do this, you’d probably use overtone + minikanren (prolog-for-lisp) to do this, as with
the composing schemer,
or to be even more mainstream, just use a normal constraint solver in a normal language.
I am fond of python and ncvx.

Anyway, prolog fans read on.

  • Anders, T., & Miranda, E. R.(2008). Higher-Order Constraint Applicators for Music Constraint Programming. In Proceedings of the 2008 International Computer Music Conference. Belfast, UK.
  • Anders, T., & Miranda, E. R.(2010). Constraint Application with Higher-Order Programming for Modeling Music Theories. Computer Music Journal, 34(2), 25–38. DOI. Online.
  • Anders, T., & Miranda, E. R.(2011). Constraint programming systems for modeling music theories and composition. ACM Computing Surveys, 43(4), 1–38. DOI. Online.
  • Anders, T., & Miranda, E. R.(2009). A computational model that generalises Schoenberg’s guidelines for favourable chord progressions. In Proceedings of the Sound and Music Computing Conference. Citeseer. Online.

See original: The Living Thing / Notebooks Composition, music theory, mostly Western.