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Sounds Unheard of: Evolutionary algorithms as creative tools for the contemporary composer

Doctoral thesis
Authors Palle Dahlstedt
Date of public defense 2004-03-19
Opponent at public defense Prof. Eduardo Reck Miranda, Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research, University of Plymouth, U.K.
ISBN 91-7291-419-X
Publisher Chalmers University of Technology
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2004
Published at Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords evolutionary algorithms, interactive evolution, music composition, sound synthesis, non-linear dynamics
Subject categories Musicology, Computer Science


Evolutionary algorithms are studied as tools for generating novel musical material in the form of musical scores and synthesized sounds. The choice of genetic representation defines a space of potential music. This space is explored using evolutionary algorithms, in search of useful musical material. In this way, the computer becomes a creative tool that is integrated into the artistic process. Several implementations of these ideas are presented, based on interactive evolution, genetic algorithms and artificial life models. A number of different representations of music and sound are discussed, with a focus on parameterized sound synthesis and the representation of scores as recursively described trees. The dynamic behavior of a class of sound synthesis engines, consisting of networks of modulating oscillators, is also investigated. Finally, a number of compositions that have been composed with the tools described in the thesis are presented.

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