Protocol: Motivation, Design, and Production of a Composition for Solo Piano

Charles Ames

Interface, Vol. 11, No. 4, January 1982, pp. 213-238
Taylor and Francis Online


This article describes the author's objectives and methods in using a digital computer to compose Protocol for solo piano. The work's primary focus is the subjective effect of abruptly changing rates of pulsation: the compression and expansion of time. In order to implement stylistic principles and formal processes suitable for projecting this focus, the author had to forsake the traditional methods of automated composition — random selection and rigid determinism — in most situations. Instead, he had the computer evaluate substantial repertories of alternatives in order to select the ones best fitting a protocol of algorithmic tests. The article proceeds to follow Protocol through its successive stages of production from the generation and organization of material to the composition of forms on global, median, and local levels of design. It also examines how specific musical objectives at each stage conditioned the automated methods employed. Due to this conditioning, even the minority of stages employing traditional mechanisms do so in a distinctive manner.

Publications      Home