Old 07-17-2019, 01:28 AM   #1
synkrotron
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Default A study using software to generate "music"

Okay, I use the work "music" here loosely, as I am sure that many here would not consider much that I do to be music, as such.

Having got that out of the way, I recently discovered NOD-E, which is an ensemble for use with Native Instruments' Reaktor.

I think if you have a quick flip though the following video would give you the essence of what NOD-E is:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3meCkcPYxk

As you will see, NOD-E is used to generate notes in a pseudo-random fashion based on a number of parameters.

Although you can use NOD-E to play instruments that are within the Reaktor world, I wanted to use a specific VSTi externally. And you can do that quite easily within REAPER.

At this point I should thank jeranx for suggesting that I check out Spitfire Audio LABS, which is a free library of conventional and not so conventional instruments. Please check out the following link for more details about LABS:-

https://www.spitfireaudio.com/labs/


And, so, onto my creations...

I have four, thus far, each using anything between four and eight instances of NOD-E, each playing its own instance of LABS.

I am not a creator of classical pieces, but some of these pieces, in places, remind me of that kind of work.

Sometimes notes "clash," but, on the whole I think I get away with it.

All of the notes played are done by NOD-E and nothing else, so, as far as composition is concerned, I had little part to play other than setting up each instance of NOD-E. And then, once done, I spent time (quite a lot of time actually) automating the mix, bringing some of the parts in and out through the ten minutes of each piece in the hope of making the compositions more interesting.

And, yes, each piece is ten minutes long. That has become a deliberate intent of mine, recently. I rarely create anything now with any kind of fixed structure and so track length is no longer important to me. If you get bored after a short time then that is fine. This music is designed to be listened to in a way that, if you feel like drifting, then let the piece play out. If not, move onto something else.


Okay, enough of the prattle... I will leave you with a SoundCloud link to a playlist containing all four pieces.

https://soundcloud.com/synkrotron/sets/nod-e


cheers, and thank you for getting this far

andy
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:21 PM   #2
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I got through those,wasn't difficult,enjoyable.I had not thought about NOD-E (fired it up a good while back ,liked it but didn't get to know it really and then forgot about it... so thanks for reminder)
Anyone not with Reaktor could maybe use ToneCarver Nova3 as similar engine?
Free Spitfire plugins sounded good.
I listened through these whilst scribbling on forum.
In Reaktor User Library there is mastering limiter6 (you probably know of it),great free limiter if needed (because I think it's easy to have Reaktor and perhaps not find,discover that one).
Cool
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Old 07-18-2019, 07:59 PM   #3
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Well, from my perspective humanity is entering a schism between nature and artificial technology. As far as I'm concern it does not matter how cute, sophisticated, etc, the artificial tech is, it is a huge FAIL!!!

You can argue over and over why technology, AI, and how amazing software can generate music, but I will never fill the human soul, never be enough...

I wrote a song called "The Great Divide", and this song explains how humanity is being split into two factions: those who will merge with technology and those who will merge with nature. Which side are you on? Technology or Nature?

Good luck...

Enough said...

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Old 07-18-2019, 11:20 PM   #4
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That's just an another step towards the robot driven apocalypse.
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Old 07-19-2019, 01:11 AM   #5
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I've heard plenty of music by humans that had far less soul.

Just had the chance to listen to Pebble so far, there's a nice tension to it. More interesting than a lot of ambient music I've heard.
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Old 07-20-2019, 12:01 AM   #6
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Hi Prom

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Originally Posted by prom View Post
I got through those,wasn't difficult,enjoyable.
Thanks for having a listen and I'm glad that you found the experience enjoyable.

Quote:
Anyone not with Reaktor could maybe use ToneCarver Nova3 as similar engine?
Thanks for the heads-up, I will have a look into that

Quote:
Free Spitfire plugins sounded good
Yes, I agree, the LABS library is quite impressive seeing as it is totally free. I don't normally use sample based instruments so this was also an interesting part of this particular experiment.

Quote:
In Reaktor User Library you will find mastering limiter6 (you probably know of it),great free limiter if needed.
Thanks, Prom. I am currently using Pro-L on my master buss, although it rarely has to do any limiting work as I try to preserve any dynamics as much as possible. So I am using Pro-L more as a monitoring tool.

I also master all my "ambient" stuff to -16 LUFS which is a couple of LU below what you would expect for the usual internet streaming services.


cheers, and thanks again for taking the time to listen.

andy
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Old 07-20-2019, 12:10 AM   #7
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I've heard plenty of music by humans that had far less soul.
Indeed!

Quote:
Just had the chance to listen to Pebble so far, there's a nice tension to it. More interesting than a lot of ambient music I've heard.
Thank you very much for taking the time to check out one of these tracks. Not exactly "easy listening," for some.



cheers

andy
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:03 AM   #8
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this type of thing has been done many times before, i'm not sure any results are better than others. in the 80s it was counterpoint algorithms to generate melody lines (big fail). in the 90s the hype was "fractal music" (big fail). in 2010's the hype was "hook theory music". umm in 2008 or something there was "biogenetic music" when some cheeseball project generated midi from sensors in a 'bubbling' bacteria culture (big fail).

AI will get there maybe eventually but it has to learn from a base of good music and what's good, because even good midi still sounds bad (aka: midi doesnt acurately represent human-played music with all the nuances of playing).

the problem from my perspective is that musicians are absolutely terrible at explaining what it is that they do. keep hammering and hammering on them and eventually they give up trying to explain their creative process and just say "I just do what sounds good". (doh)
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:15 AM   #9
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I am at a loss as to where AI has made its way into this topic.

And, if you don't like it, why bother commenting? There are many genres of "music" that do not appeal to me but I find it a complete waste of time bothering to dismiss stuff that I don't like. And, at the end of the day, it's all just a matter of opinion.

I offered this up as a "study," nothing more.


So, is this forum only for "real" musicians, then?

Shame that...
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Old 07-20-2019, 01:50 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by RDBOIS View Post
Well, from my perspective humanity is entering a schism between nature and artificial technology. As far as I'm concern it does not matter how cute, sophisticated, etc, the artificial tech is, it is a huge FAIL!!!
Hey Concsious.

Mais tu es remonté comme une pendule...

@+

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bla, bla, bla, bla, bla, ...
...agree with all you saying...

Sure you can always recognize Midi from real stuff ?

Bye


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Originally Posted by synkrotron View Post
I am at a loss as to where AI has made its way into this topic.

And, if you don't like it, why bother commenting? There are many genres of "music" that do not appeal to me but I find it a complete waste of time bothering to dismiss stuff that I don't like. And, at the end of the day, it's all just a matter of opinion.

I offered this up as a "study," nothing more.


So, is this forum only for "real" musicians, then?

Shame that...
Hi Andy, let him talk, let's (students) play our fake/robotic instruments.

Have a good day

And thanks for quoting me

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Old 07-20-2019, 02:02 AM   #11
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I suspect there a quite a few of us out there who think a computer can easily be counted as a musical instrument. I listened to your tracks and IMO they're at least as musical as quite a lot of stuff I've heard posted here by "real musicians". I particularly like "Feather" but then I'm a sucker for human voices and bell-like tones. And thanks for reminding me of the Spitfire Labs instruments, there are a couple of new ones since I last remembered to look.

I don't own Reaktor but I have used Nova3 a fair bit. Mostly I use Intermorphic's Wotja, different but sort of related. So far neither of them have written complete tracks for me because I can't resist adding to or at least fiddling with their output. But I find them really useful for contributing ideas and themes that I can then work with. Some will no doubt call that "cheating". But really it's just using the tools that are available now.

Steve
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Old 07-20-2019, 02:05 AM   #12
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To be honest, you set the tone for the discussion right at the beginning:

Quote:
Originally Posted by synkrotron View Post
Okay, I use the work "music" here loosely, as I am sure that many here would not consider much that I do to be music, as such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by synkrotron View Post
As you will see, NOD-E is used to generate notes in a pseudo-random fashion based on a number of parameters.

(...)

All of the notes played are done by NOD-E and nothing else, so, as far as composition is concerned, I had little part to play other than setting up each instance of NOD-E. And then, once done, I spent time (quite a lot of time actually) automating the mix, bringing some of the parts in and out through the ten minutes of each piece in the hope of making the compositions more interesting.
So it's obviously about machine music? You asked the internet, internet said "no" . Honestly, to me it's a bit terrifying too if algorithm has no problem making better music than many of us. One of those scary 21st century things, right next to Donald Trumps face seamlessy pasted on pornstars (or the other way).
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Old 07-20-2019, 03:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by superblonde.org View Post
this type of thing has been done many times before, i'm not sure any results are better than others. in the 80s it was counterpoint algorithms to generate melody lines (big fail). in the 90s the hype was "fractal music" (big fail). in 2010's the hype was "hook theory music". umm in 2008 or something there was "biogenetic music" when some cheeseball project generated midi from sensors in a 'bubbling' bacteria culture (big fail).

AI will get there maybe eventually but it has to learn from a base of good music and what's good, because even good midi still sounds bad (aka: midi doesnt acurately represent human-played music with all the nuances of playing).

the problem from my perspective is that musicians are absolutely terrible at explaining what it is that they do. keep hammering and hammering on them and eventually they give up trying to explain their creative process and just say "I just do what sounds good". (doh)
Before that you had composers such as Xenakis and Lucier using electronics and computers to generate music.

I find it indistinguishable from similar works written without the use of iterative systems, and often more interesting.

It's definitely more interesting and soulful than the Spice Girls or Crazy Frog (big human fail).
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Old 07-20-2019, 03:52 AM   #14
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So it's obviously about machine music? You asked the internet, internet said "no" . Honestly, to me it's a bit terrifying too if algorithm has no problem making better music than many of us. One of those scary 21st century things, right next to Donald Trumps face seamlessy pasted on pornstars (or the other way).
So far, it seems the opinion of the internet is split!
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:24 AM   #15
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So far, it seems the opinion of the internet is split!
Lets write a bot to solve it!
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Old 07-20-2019, 04:50 AM   #16
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O.k. I've analysed the Internet and guess what 99.997% of it couldn't care less who or what writes music so long as it sounds good. Oh and apparently it shouldn't cost anything, but that's another debate.

Steve
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Old 07-21-2019, 03:36 AM   #17
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Hi Steve

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Originally Posted by slipstick View Post
I suspect there a quite a few of us out there who think a computer can easily be counted as a musical instrument.
Absolutely. I would be lost without my computer.

From a recording point of view, I still have a couple of hard disk recorders stuck on my shelf here but I would hate to have to use them.

Instrument wise, I have hardware, but I have become to love what software has to offer in the last ten years or so.

Quote:
I listened to your tracks and IMO they're at least as musical as quite a lot of stuff I've heard posted here by "real musicians".
Thank you very much for that, I really appreciate it

Quote:
I particularly like "Feather" but then I'm a sucker for human voices and bell-like tones.
Haha! Yeah, know what you mean there. The choir sound in LABS is excellent, but I feel like I should be careful not to overuse that one.

Quote:
And thanks for reminding me of the Spitfire Labs instruments, there are a couple of new ones since I last remembered to look.
I have really enjoyed playing around with LABS since I was made aware of it. I hope they add more stuff but I have to admit that, for free, it is already an awesome collections of sounds.

Quote:
So far neither of them have written complete tracks for me because I can't resist adding to or at least fiddling with their output. But I find them really useful for contributing ideas and themes that I can then work with.
Well, I was surprised how my little study worked out, just using NOD-E and just LABS, nothing else. I was fully expecting to have to add some non-automated stuff, or to add a different synth to the mix. Now that this study is out of the way, though, I will probably just use NOD-E for some odd bits and pieces here and there.

Quote:
Some will no doubt call that "cheating". But really it's just using the tools that are available now.
Cheating or not, I think that as long as we say what tools or methods we have used to create a piece then all is good. For me, at least, the end product is what matters.

Thanks again for jumping in here, Steve.

cheers

andy
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Old 07-21-2019, 03:55 AM   #18
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To be honest, you set the tone for the discussion right at the beginning

Possibly...

I would like to think, though, that, seeing as I put the word "study" in the title, and the fact that I never asked any questions or for any kind of feedback or opinions, I was posting something more of a "food for thought" thing, if you know what I mean.

So, not a discussion, as such. More a sharing of ones own findings that others may find useful.


Having said that, I am still grateful for some of the opinions expressed here, and I have said as such in my responses. I suppose I am not man enough to take the negative views on the chin... I need to think about that...


cheers

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Old 07-21-2019, 11:51 AM   #19
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eh? it's not a discussion, in a forum titled "reaper music/collaboration discussion" ? umm okay.
It was introduced as " I use the work "music" here loosely". umm okay.
So it's a recording demo of what was created from the software NOD-E. okay.

Well, the result doesn't "go anywhere." but neither do many of Eno's pieces. Or many things in ambient. it just "is". many musicians don't consider ambient "music." even though some of it is very successful in terms of album sales. which matches the first post.. " I use the work "music" here loosely".


so the next step is to ask "ok how do I make it sound BETTER ?" BETTER meaning, more engaging, imparting more feel, more "musical"

does NOD-E provide automations to make the music move?

otherwise if not, then I'll be waiting for AI to catch up (aka: better algorithms), before checking out music generation software like this right now.

or, what does NOD-E bring to the table (in terms of algorithms) which has not been possible before?

these algorithms are not making notes in " pseudo-random fashion ".

Last edited by superblonde.org; 07-21-2019 at 11:52 AM. Reason: more "musical"
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Old 07-21-2019, 11:56 AM   #20
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many musicians don't consider ambient "music."
That would be a ridiculous assertion, by any definition of the term.
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:18 PM   #21
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That would be a ridiculous assertion, by any definition of the term.
and why is your assertion any more definitive than theirs, eh? especially when they're pros ?

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It's definitely more interesting and soulful than the Spice Girls or Crazy Frog (big human fail).
the work here is 'instrumental music' and those are 'songs' (aka vocal music).
so thats apples to oranges.
or you want to compare song form? this demo seems to not have a form. whereas spice girls has a form, which could mean that it is a _superior_ work.

I actually dont care to argue about music genres or human vs computer etc - because it's a waste of time.

what is NOD-E capable of in terms of musicality, is on point.
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:22 PM   #22
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and why is your assertion any more definitive than theirs, eh? especially when they're pros ?
Believe it or not, some people have given the subject some thought before. I've studied some of them at university.

When you say "pros", do you mean academics qualified to discuss the definition of music?

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spice girls has a form, which could mean that it is a _superior_ work.
Please explain why form = musical superiority.

Does music get better the more complex it gets?
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:33 PM   #23
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That would be a ridiculous assertion, by any definition of the term.
ok one last reply on this point. there is only ONE definition of music which makes ambient qualify as music:

music: organized sound (or organized absence of sound). ok, ambient is music.

there are MANY definitions of music where this demo does NOT qualify.

music: a work of instruments played by humans. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with vocal melody. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with movement and structure. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with melody and well defined rhythm. nope. it's not music.


"Please explain why form = musical superiority."

no, I wont. use your university studies.
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:38 PM   #24
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ok one last reply on this point. there is only ONE definition of music which makes ambient qualify as music:

music: organized sound (or organized absence of sound). ok, ambient is music.

there are MANY definitions of music where this demo does NOT qualify.

music: a work of instruments played by humans. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with vocal melody. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with movement and structure. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with melody and well defined rhythm. nope. it's not music.


"Please explain why form = musical superiority."

no, I wont. use your university studies.
No need to get tetchy. You were the one invoking appeal to authority, I merely played along.

The first is the definition of music as given by Varèse. The others look like dictionary definitions. That is as useful as looking up medical definitions in a standard dictionary. There are medical dictionaries for a reason.

One question for you: if ambient works are not music, what are they?
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:42 PM   #25
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there are MANY definitions of music where this demo does NOT qualify.

music: a work of instruments played by humans. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with vocal melody. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with movement and structure. nope. it's not music.

music: a work with melody and well defined rhythm. nope. it's not music.
Okay I didn't study shit but those don't seem like very legit "music" definitions. Pretty sure sequenced, instrumental, free time or improvised pieces qualify as music too. Only problem with presented generative music is IMO lack of human agency, that's a bit sketchy for some of us as we see.

(ambient "Orbus Terrarum" by the Orb is one of my favourite albums BTW)
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:48 PM   #26
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Only problem with presented generative music is IMO lack of human agency, that's a bit sketchy for some of us as we see.
I've got a set of wind chimes outside that make pleasant music. While the order and timing of notes are dictated by the wind, their manufacture was an act of human agency.
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:53 PM   #27
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I've got a set of wind chimes outside that make pleasant music. While the order and timing of notes are dictated by the wind, their manufacture was an act of human agency.
Good point - so the performer credit goes to the developer of the generator
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Old 07-21-2019, 12:54 PM   #28
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Good point - so the performer credit goes to the developer of the generator
Or they are the composer and the wind is the performer?

Not sure how that royalty split would work out, but I'm sure there would be lawyers happy to argue about it.
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Old 07-21-2019, 01:18 PM   #29
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I like the sonority of the recordings. Interesting thread.

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I've got a set of wind chimes outside that make pleasant music. While the order and timing of notes are dictated by the wind, their manufacture was an act of human agency.
We have these: https://whimsicalwinds.com/Item/WOOD...YER_WIND_CHIME

I thought of their sound when listening to the recordings in the original post.
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Old 07-24-2019, 04:03 PM   #30
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meaning, more engaging
It isn't supposed to be engaging. I like to create sound designs that can be listened to from any point, for as long as the listener is interested. Could be three minutes, or three seconds.

I like to listen to this sort of stuff to fall to sleep to.

Quote:
does NOD-E provide automations to make the music move?
Yes. I add automation to certain elements of NOD-E.

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otherwise if not, then I'll be waiting for AI to catch up
It isn't "Artificial Intelligence."

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or, what does NOD-E bring to the table (in terms of algorithms) which has not been possible before?
I have absolutely no idea.

Apart from my recent experimentations with NOD-E, the only other random stuff I've used is with my Eurorack modular system. And my Beatstep Pro (sequencer) also random and probability settings.
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Old 07-24-2019, 04:08 PM   #31
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Only problem with presented generative music is IMO lack of human agency
Having spent some time setting up sometimes as many as eight NOD-E instances, and choosing sounds for them to play, I would then spend more time creating volume automations to bring parts in and out over the duration of each track.

So I would like to think that I have contributed to each of my four examples in some way, if not in the choosing of the notes.
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Old 07-24-2019, 04:11 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Timothy Lawler View Post
I like the sonority of the recordings. Interesting thread.
Thank you, Timothy

Quote:
We have these: https://whimsicalwinds.com/Item/WOOD...YER_WIND_CHIME

I thought of their sound when listening to the recordings in the original post.
I'd love a set of properly tuned wind chimes... I'd definitely sample that...
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Old 07-28-2019, 07:25 PM   #33
RDBOIS
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We may need a software to listen to, appreciate and rate, music generated by software?

AI generating music, AI rating the music, AI selling the top 100 hits, and then AI listening to the AI music. But, human beings paying for everything, with of coarse the middleman (who can that be?) taking a cut of the profits.
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