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Blog: Here's how I made my computer write music


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The ideas and critiques expressed are the ones of the creator and now not Gamasutra or its mum or dad corporate.


 

Considered one of my present interest initiatives is making a procedural track machine: a pc program that composes and plays track all on its own. It is nonetheless a work-in-progress in its early levels, however some contemporary enhancements have got it to supply somewhat fascinating track already, so I figured it is about time I proportion a few of my ideas round the way it works. Let’s get started with somewhat video that permits you to listen the volume of variation it will possibly lately do:

Be aware that this video accommodates a choice of the nicer items, so it is not all this just right. Many of the different track it lately produces is a little more dull, or too very similar to those fragments. This system is a work-in-progress and it must reinforce so much as I spend extra time on it.

I began programming this for a quite strange explanation why: I sought after to follow improvising on my cello over complicated chord schemes and figured a program that robotically produces the ones would do the trick. As standard with this type of factor, it were given out of hand and I have thus far spent my time making it cooler as an alternative of enjoying alongside to its tunes on my cello. I’m hoping I will increase it to the purpose the place it may be a sport soundtrack, or a reside streaming radio channel on Youtube that repeatedly produces new track.

My strategy to procedural track is most commonly based totally by myself concepts about composition. I am intentionally guidance clear of a large number of not unusual composition ‘laws’ since I be expecting that is been accomplished already. I feel I’m going to get one thing extra fascinating and extra non-public if I get started from my very own concepts as an alternative. Whilst I do not forget about track concept both, I do attempt to keep away from laws like finishing a chord development with the dominant after which going again to the tonic or anything else like that.

Simply to be transparent: my track generator is now not an AI or a self-learning machine or anything else like that.

The procedural track generator is composed of a number of parts that in combination produce the track:

Chords, rhythms and scales

To ‘educate’ my program fundamental track concept I have created a number of textual content information that outline a large number of not unusual and not more not unusual chords, rhythms and scales. You’ll see which it is the usage of within the video: it will as an example make a choice to play a C main chord in three/four rhythm.

Construction turbines

The very first thing had to create a work of track, is a fundamental construction. This a part of this system randomly chooses the chord development, the rhythm and the scales. It additionally chooses how particular person tools are allowed to deviate from the rhythm, so that there is some consistency between tools with out requiring them to do the very same factor.

Device layer turbines

Those generate the notes for explicit tools. Every class of tools has a task to fulfil and its personal explicit set of rules for that. As an example, the generator for drums is totally other from the generator for bass. These kind of turbines are nonetheless very fundamental so there may be quite a lot of room for development there. A large number of the difference within the video above comes from having other mixtures of tool layer turbines. As an example, some have drums, others don’t. I be expecting that having a large number of layer turbines is the place my procedural track gets maximum of its variation. Lately I’ve 5, however I would love to create a minimum of a dozen. A very powerful lacking layer nowadays is one for exact melodies, which is most definitely additionally probably the most difficult one to get proper.

VST tools

In fact acting the track is completed the usage of VST tools. VST is an ordinary for virtual tools this is utilized by a large number of systems on Home windows. A VST document is mainly only a DLL and I have coded a easy track participant that may take care of them. For each and every tool layer I would love to have a number of VST tools that may play that layer, in order that I will get other sounds. Lately maximum of it sounds very virtual, so it might be great to even have VSTs for different sorts of tools, like acoustic drums and guitars.

Music construction

This is a component that is lately utterly lacking: nowadays all track performed through my track generator is just a loop of four to 12 bars. I need to program techniques for track constructions with verse/refrain/bridge, but additionally for ceaselessly progressing track and for track that as an example slowly builds as much as a climax.

In moderation limited randomness

The entire techniques on this generator include a large number of randomness, however the randomness is proscribed to precise laws I have get a hold of. If the ones laws are too unfastened then the result’s noise, now not track, whilst if the principles are too strict then the ensuing track will at all times appear similar, so in moderation balancing the randomness is a huge problem right here.

For long run enhancements I would like so as to add extra tool layers and refine the present ones, upload track constructions and upload extra VST tools. Since I have lately grow to be a dad I do not have a lot of time to paintings in this, so I be expecting development will likely be very gradual. I’m hoping to incorporate a primary fundamental model of my procedural track generator as an advantage characteristic in the house version of Cello Citadel, each time that is in truth completed.

Let’s conclude with a query: are you aware any communities for open supply or unfastened VSTs? There are many VSTs that may be downloaded at no cost, however in lots of circumstances they simply specify that they are unfastened to make use of, now not unfastened to distribute with business tool. I have thus far had a difficult time discovering usable tools or entering touch with (interest) tool programmers who could be keen to permit me to incorporate their tools. Depart a remark if you have got ideas or are a virtual tool programmer your self.

For extra blogposts on building of Awesomenauts, Swords & Squaddies, Cello Citadel, Proun, my track and any of the opposite stuff I paintings on, take a look at my dev weblog at www.joostvandongen.com.

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