Dissertation Index

Author: Saunders, Michael, D.

Title: A Computer-based Notation for the Process of Musical Composition

Institution: University of Wales, Cardiff

Begun: September 1995

Completed: September 1998


This dissertation describes a system for computer composition called "Rusty", with particular emphasis on its representation of musical objects. Rather than taking an abstract approach, Rusty models the process of composition as it is practiced by human beings. Its design is general and powerful enough so that any musical process may be represented and enacted by it. Despite its scope, its use of familiar musical concepts and a sophisticated graphic interface make it easy to use. With Rusty, a composer may automate all or part of his compositional method. The system is equally useful to analysts and musicologists and is readily extendible to the tasks of machine performance and sound synthesis.

Two features enable Rusty to achieve this breadth and utility. One is a means for the representation of all the musical concepts (of every level of abstraction) which musicians use when speaking of music. The computerization of the technical language of musicians doesn't merely make the system user-friendly, it incorporates into Rusty the vast store of practical understanding which musicians have accumulated over the centuries. The most interesting feature of Rusty is that it treats these (perhaps quite high-level) computerizations of musical objects as signals. This gives the user a natural, intuitive and highly powerful means for the expression of processes. Its forms for representing any musical concept in a tradition-neutral way, and for representing even vague or conflicting concepts precisely are expected to be especially valuable to theorists and musicologists.

Keywords: fuzzy logic, object-oriented, music representation, ethnomusicology, computer language


1. Introduction
2. System Overview
3. Implementation and Evaluation
4. Aesthetics
5. The Underlying Forms of Musical Concepts:

Part 1---Physical Eidola

5.1 Values, Exact and Approximate
5.2 Time
5.3 Dynamics
5.4 Spectra
5.5 Pitch and Pitch Organization
5.6 Sound and Spatialization

6. The Underlying Forms of Musical Concepts:

Part 2---Musical Eidola

6.1 Qualities and Indications
6.2 Forms and Scores
6.3 Mode
6.4 Chords and Harmonic Modes
6.5 Rhythm
6.6 Melody
6.7 Harmony

7. The Underlying Forms of Musical Concepts:

Part 3---Mathematical Eidola

7.1 One Dimensional Functions
7.2 Markov Chains


Michael Saunders
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wales, Cardiff
P.O. Box 913

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