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Algorithmic Composition

May 3, 2011

Stephen Wolfram is a beast, the typical boy genius, Cal Tech partile physics Ph.D. by the age of 20 type of guy. People working in the field of mathematics, often find solace in the infinitely helpful, a free online computational engine of Wolfram’s creation. Its efficiency makes complete sense when one discovers that Wolfram also wrote the Mathematica software package.

The point of this post is not to describe the man who wrote Mathematica or the 2002 book A New Kind of Science, which is basically a theory of everything, but to share a link to Wolfram Tones. The Wolfram Universe encompasses even the world of musical composition. Algorithmic composition is not a new idea. Many composers have used mathematical methods rooted in statistics to generate completely new musical pieces or pieces in the style of other famous composers. Wolfram Tones is an example of algorithmic composition.

Wolfram Tones creates short musical pieces using the Mathematica software and plays them on your local MIDI engine. The generator hasn’t really created a piece I’ve liked as much as I like the idea, but hopefully one day it would be possible to generate more complicated pieces, like Kesha songs.

Wolfram Tones

- JT

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2011 9:59 am

    Check out some of David Cope’s music, particularly ‘Emily Howell’. She is an algorithmic composition program created by Cope to generate music, I don’t like all of the tracks (you can hear some on youtube) but some of them are really impressive.
    As Cope’s got a music background I think the end result music that he generates from his software does sound a lot better than Wolfram’s.

    • September 6, 2011 6:45 pm

      Thanks for the heads up. I believe I heard a bit of Cope’s (or Emily Howell’s) music on a podcast from Radiolab (, which I enjoyed very much. I agree with you that Wolfram’s software does not generate sonically pleasing material; my interest is that it is a web based tool.

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