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Generative algorithms for making music: emergence, evolution, and ecosystems

posted on 2023-06-08, 18:20 authored by Jonathan McCormack, Alice EldridgeAlice Eldridge, Alan Dorin, Peter McIlwain
Music is often seen as a very direct form of human expression—with personal creativity as the conceptual omphalos and primary origin of the compositional process. The interest here is in using the computer as an expressive, collaborative partner, one that answers back, interacts, and responds intelligently. This article examines special kinds of processes that give rise to outcomes beyond those that would appear possible from the individual parts that define them. It looks at processes inspired by nature and how they can be transformed to offer the musician or sound artist both new compositional tools and a foundational philosophy for understanding creative practice. Its approach comes largely from the systems sciences of general systems theory, cybernetics, and most recently artificial life. These disciplines have sought to understand the world in ways that favor process dynamics over the static, structural relations of objects, leading to a perspective defined by mechanisms rather than materials.


Publication status

  • Published


Oxford University Press

Book title

The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music

Place of publication





Oxford Handbooks

Department affiliated with

  • Informatics Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

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Roger T Dean

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