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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Music and computer composition

The problem discussed is that of simulating human composition of Western popular music by computer and some relevant theories of music and harmony are given. Problems with this kind of program and several schemes that are known not to work are discussed. Several previous computer compositions are discussed, including the ILLIAC Suite. A program to generate short melody fragments was written to simulate some of the aspects of human composition. Five samples of its output are presented and discussed. It was discovered that although the fragments show many of the characteristics of popular melodies, they have a strangely alien sound. It is theorized that this is because the relevant probabilities which would discriminate against unfamiliar sequences were not used.

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