Flexatone HFP
Icon
  • System Detail

System: CsoundVST

Authors

Description

Silence is a user-extensible system for making music by means of software. It is specifically designed to support algorithmic composition and synthesis. For an introduction to the theory behind Silence, see my paper Music Graphs for Algorithmic Composition and Synthesis with an Extensible Implementation in Java. Basically, Silence generates scores, and CsoundVST renders them into soundfiles or real-time audio. Some examples can be found in the Silence/examples/Silence directory (they are the .mml files). Silence represents notes and performance events as points in a 12-dimensional linear space, called music space, with the following dimensions: 1. Status, the same as the high-level nibble of the MIDI status byte, so that 144 means "note." 2. Instrument number or channel, from 1 upwards. 3. Time in seconds. 4. Duration in seconds. 5. Pitch in MIDI key numbers, from 0 through 127, where middle C = 60. 6. Loudness in MIDI velocity numbers, from 0 for silence through 127 for loudest. 7. Phase in radians. 8. Horizontal position (or pan), from -1 at the left through 0 at the center to +1 at the right. 9. Distance, from -1 at the back through 0 at the center to +1 at the front. 10. Elevation, from -1 at the bottom through 0 at the center to +1 at the top. 11. Pitch-class set, where each pitch-class is represented by a power of 2, for example C is 2 to the 0th power or 1, C# is 2 to the 1st power or 2, and so on; any tone, interval, chord, or scale can be represented by a sum of powers of 2; all pitch-classes can be recovered by factoring the sum. 12. Homogeneity, always 1; this makes music space a homogeneous, space in which any affine transformation (translation and/or scaling and/or rotation) or combination of affine transformations can be represented by a single square matrix. This representation includes all the information in MIDI, at higher precision. In addition, it specifies which chord or scale a note could be "rounded off" to, and it can even be used to represent raw sound in great detail by specifying individual grains of sound, for example coefficients from a Fourier analysis or wavelet analysis, using the phase dimension if necessary.

References

“The characteristics of every sound depend on the way in which the sound was produced. Each art-form exploits its special production methods in order to endow the phenomena with unmistakable characteristics. Artistic economy demands that the means be appropriate to the end, and that the exploitation of the means be an end in itself.”

(Full citation)

“The danger is great of letting oneself be trapped by the tools and of becoming stuck in the sands of technology that has come like an intruder into the relatively calm waters of the thought in instrumental music.”

(Full citation)

“Composers are now able, as never before, to satisfy the dictates of that inner ear of the imagination. They are also lucky so far in not being hampered by esthetic codification -- at least not yet! But I am afraid it will not be long before some musical mortician begins embalming electronic music in rules.”

(Full citation)

“... the individual and the society are deprived of the formidable power of free imagination that musical composition offers them. We are able to tear down this iron curtain, thanks to the technology of computers...”

(Full citation)

“... the use of numerical machines no longer stands in need of justification. It is not a mystery. If there is a mystery, it is in the mental structures of music and not in the computers, which are only tools, extensions of the hand and the slide rule.”

(Full citation)

“... and the hope of an extraordinary aesthetic success based on extraordinary technology is a cruel deceit.”

(Full citation)

“The use of computers is the logical outcome of a historical development. It by no means heralds a new musical epoch; it simply offers a fast, reliable and versatile means of solving problems that already demanded solution. The person who writes the computer programme must bear the development of musical language up to the present in mind, and try to advance a stage further.”

(Full citation)

“... but beware, technique can submerge the user: We must defend ourselves; it is good to use techniques, but we have to dominate them, to stay alert.”

(Full citation)

“With the development of electronic and computer music, multidemnsionality of sound representation turned out to be both natural and useful. But music goes beyond multidimensionality -- it is even more complex.”

(Full citation)

“Music is then no longer primarily conceived as a guide for premeditated emotions, but as the density of the possible relationships which first become actuality during production under the influence of chance, and which during performance are presented to the listener as sounds beyond any environmental associatiations, independent of bodily actions required to produce sounds...”

(Full citation)

“The computing machine is a marvelous invention and seems almost superhuman. But in reality it is as limited as the mind of the individual who feeds it material. Like the computer, the machines we use for making music can only give back what we put into them.”

(Full citation)