NCSA 30 | Musical composition moves to the machine room
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Musical composition moves to the machine room

Sever Tipei

Musical composition moves to the machine room

Sever Tipei, a professor in the University of Illinois’ School of Music, saw a connection that, he said, had been lost on many people since the days of the Renaissance. He saw music and computation as sharing a common underpinning. With the help of NCSA researchers, he created a series of pieces that relied on the center’s Cray Y-MP supercomputer. He established the parameters using custom computer-aided composition software. He then supplied a random seed number that allowed the computer to randomly establish the pitch and duration of the pieces’ notes. When he inserted a different random number, a different, though related, “manifold composition” was created.

“I am still the composer. I still determine the grand design of the piece, but the details are left to chance,” he said.

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