Ad Hoc Artificial Intelligence in Algorithmic Music Composition

On October 4, I will be presenting at the 3rd Annual Workshop on Musical Metacreation. I will be presenting a paper on the ways that AI practitioners have used ad hoc methods in algorithmic music programs, and what that means for the field of computational creativity. The paper is titled Implications of Ad Hoc Artificial Intelligence in Music Composition.

This paper is an examination of several well-known applications of artificial intelligence in music generation. The algorithms in EMI, GenJam, WolframTones, and Swarm Music are examined in pursuit of ad hoc modifications. Based on these programs, it is clear that ad hoc modifications occur in most algorithmic music programs. We must keep this in mind when generalizing about computational creativity based on these programs. Ad hoc algorithms model a specific task, rather than a general creative algorithm. The musical metacreation discourse could benefit from the skepticism of the procedural content practitioners at AIIDE.

The workshop is taking place on the North Carolina State University campus in Raleigh, NC. Other presenters include Andie Sigler, Tom Stoll, Arne Eigenfeldt, and fellow NIU alumnus Tony Reimer.

Disconnected, Algorithmic Sound Collages from Web API

I’m pleased to announce the release of Disconnected, and album of algorithmic sound collages generated by pulling sounds from the web.

I prefer to call this album semi-algorithmic because some of the music is purely software-generated, while other pieces are a collaboration between the software and myself. Tracks four and six are purely algorithmic, while the other tracks are a mix of software-generated material and more traditionally composed material.


The software used in the sound collage pieces (1, 3, 4, 6) was inspired by Melissa Schilling’s Small World Network Model of Cognitive Insight. Her theory essentially says that moments of cognitive insight, or creativity, occur whenever a connection is made between previously distantly related ideas. In graph theory, these types of connections are called bridges, and they have the effect of bringing entire neighborhoods of ideas closer together.

I applied Schilling’s theory to sounds from My software searches for neighborhoods of sounds that are related by aural similarity and stores them in a graph of sounds. These sounds are then connected with more distant sounds via lexical connections from These lexical connections are bridges, or moments of creativity. This process is detailed in the paper Composing with All Sound Using the FreeSound and Wordnik APIs.

Finally, these sound graphs must be activated to generate sound collages. I used a modified boids algorithm to allow a swarm to move over the sound graph. Sounds were triggered whenever the population on a vertex surpassed a threshold.

Disconnected is available for download from Xylem Records.


What Will Come from the Vacuum

This week What Will Come from the Vacuum is being played in Trauenkirchen, Germany, as part of a exhibition called Physik und Musik. This piece was written as a response to images of scientific equipment.

The Mapping Problem: Swarm Intelligence in Music

This fall Signal Culture will publish the Signal Culture Cookbook containing a chapter called The Mapping Problem: Swarm Intelligence in Music that I wrote earlier this year. The chapter deals with all the potential problems that artists must deal with when using swarm intelligence in music, and shares shource code for several interesting mappings that I’ve used in the past.

A Quiet Place