Melody Generator: A Device for Algorithmic Music Construction

This article describes the development of an application for generating tonal melodies. The goal of the project is to ascertain our current understanding of tonal music by means of algorithmic music generation. The method followed consists of four stages: 1) selection of music-theoretical insights, 2) translation of these insights into a set of principles, 3) conversion of the principles into a computational model having the form of an algorithm for music generation, 4) testing the "music" generated by the algorithm to evaluate the adequacy of the model. As an example, the method is implemented in Melody Generator, an algorithm for generating tonal melodies. The program has a structure suited for generating, displaying, playing and storing melodies, functions which are all accessible via a dedicated interface. The actual generation of melodies, is based in part on constraints imposed by the tonal context, i.e. by meter and key, the settings of which are controlled by means of parameters on the interface. For another part, it is based upon a set of construction principles including the notion of a hierarchical organization, and the idea that melodies consist of a skeleton that may be elaborated in various ways. After these aspects were implemented as specific sub-algorithms, the device produces simple but well-structured tonal melodies. Keywords: Principles of Tonal Music Construction, Algorithmic Composition, Synthetic Musicology, Computational Model, Realbasic, OOP, Melody, Meter, Key.

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