Automated Composition in Retrospect: 1956-1986

Charles Ames

Leonardo, Vol. 20, No. 2, 1987, pp. 169-185



This article chronicles computer programs for automated musical composition over the last 30 years, providing musical examples from 11 computer-composed works. The author begins by focusing on early American efforts to impose stylistic controls through random sampling and testing, then describes European statistical approaches used until 1970. The rise of 'interactive' compositional utilities during the 1970s is linked to the growing proliferation of on-line computers. The current decade has been a period of electric interests: the resurgence of statistical procedures, the introduction of 'top-down' recursive grammars, the adaptation of problem-solving techniques from Artificial Intelligence and the continuation of interactive efforts.

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