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So, what is generative?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author So, what is generative?
synkrotron
Did a search.

Raked up plenty of topics regarding "generative" in Your Tunes, of course, but I am not interesting in listening to examples, as enjoyable as they may be. I am more interesting in establishing some basic ground rules in order to gain some acceptance into the genre of "generative" stuff.

I am not thinking of Krell here, by the way. I simply can't get my head around Krell... I am to old and it is too difficult for me to comprehend.

My basic understanding of generative, from watching videos by peeps like Mylar Melodies and Patrick O'Brian is that you patch up, hit record, and come back ten minutes later and you have a new creation all ready to release upon the world.

I have been dabbling with that concept and have some "sort of" generative pieces of my own now, but I am wondering, what is deemed as "cheating," or "not in the spirit of the term generative?"

For instance, are sequencers considered to be a no-no? I have been experimenting with using my BSP by setting the probability on all three sections to 100 percent, thereby creating a rather random thing.

Is it considered bad form to create fade ins and outs AFTER the recording, or should a generative patch be created such that it starts and ends with "natural" fades?


Or does the sometimes usual phrase, "there are no rules" apply?


Modules wise, I think I have enough to create generative stuff, but that is not what I am asking about here, otherwise I would have posted this in the Eurorack section.


cheers

and thank you for your patience in this matter.

andy
cptnal
Love n kisses and all that, but I think you're getting it arse-about-tit. Just do what you do, and if you like it... thumbs up

There aren't really rules, but the general idea is the modular does most of the playing and the wiggler's input is minimal. So use sequencers, use random, use whatever. The most successful pieces will be the ones that surprise yourself.
synkrotron
cptnal wrote:
Love n kisses and all that, but I think you're getting it arse-about-tit. Just do what you do, and if you like it... thumbs up

There aren't really rules, but the general idea is the modular does most of the playing and the wiggler's input is minimal. So use sequencers, use random, use whatever. The most successful pieces will be the ones that surprise yourself.


Haha! Thanks hihi

So, yeah, I'm already on the right track then...

good to know Rockin' Banana!
wechard
Like most things cultural, you might find it more useful to approach this as history — looking at how different people have thought about related ideas in different times and places — rather than looking for fixed definitions.

IMO, the most consistent and useful version of this idea is the way Steve Reich approached it early in his career, when he tended to call it “process music.” The key idea there is that the composer’s activity involves setting up a mechanism or situation, but then the piece results from letting that process run itself without further intervention. You could include whatever elements or techniques you want in the initial system, as long as you don’t interfere further once you start it running. But like most simple ideas, there’s lots to quibble about in the details. For example, is it still process music in this sense if you run it for an hour but the final piece is picking the best 5 minutes and adding fades on either side? There’s no absolute answer...
cptnal
FWIW, it's the way I do things most of the time, but I don't call it "generative" - I call it "lazy". Mr. Green

Another point - some will use the terms "generative" and "ambient" interchangeably, which is wrong. You could have generative techno if you wanted, and ambient pieces that you play actively. The generative part is the probabilistic part, not necessarily what the music sounds like.
catchpenny
this website is a pretty great overview of the topic I think: https://teropa.info/loop/
cptnal
catchpenny wrote:
this website is a pretty great overview of the topic I think: https://teropa.info/loop/


Really cool! thumbs up

Reckon it would be a good idea to post this in one of the sticky threads.
Kent
sduck
And there's always this thread - https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31698
synkrotron
Kent wrote:


Yep, seen that one thanks, in fact I have watched it a number of times smile
synkrotron
sduck wrote:
And there's always this thread - https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31698


Thanks smile

I'll have a read through that.
Hovercraft
When you start thinking about definitions, things tend to break down quickly.

If I program a sequencer to play Mary Had a Little Lamb; obviously not
generative music.

If I program two sequencers to play Mary Had a Little Lamb slightly out of phase; generative music a la Steve Reich.

If I program a sequencer and modular to play my own composition at the press of a button; generative music if I make that claim.

I've seen people post videos of themselves clearly manipulating their modulars through the full piece, and post in a generative thread. Have also seen anything and everything posted as "Krell" patches. Don't think I'd worry too much about rules. In my subjective take, I generally look for the following elements in generative modular.

--No physical control by the artist once the piece has started.

--Some level of unexpectedness in the composition.

--The piece can never be precisely repeated a second time.
Dcramer
Always an interesting topic and one that has kept me interested for years.
For me, Generative means that much of the ‘musical stuff’ rhythms, pitches, harmonies, of a piece are created by the instrument, following certain guidelines created by the composer.

If you can stomach some listening and a little reading, check out this thread;

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=202135

I took the liberty of creating what might well be Muffwigglers most documented patch when I was asked to create a specific Generative piece for a performance abroad.
The live album was released this weekend and consists of 75 minutes of Generative performance in which I perform the role of ‘conductor’ influencing tempo, brightness, and Mix, with the patch taking care of all the musical details.
Hardly a press record and go affair, I worked for almost four months on the project and rehearsed (yup woah ) the performance for two days prior.

So for me, Generative can be a patch that I participate in, but it can also be a piece in which all aspects of the resulting music are controlled by the patch.
(Check out my piece The RITE, for one such example)

If you can’t stomach a full 75 mins of the stuff, skip ahead to act two, about 5 mins in for the start of the fifth movement, 18 minutes that really shows off the patch in all its glory.

Fear not the Krell! It’s bog simple and like my Exodus patch (detailed in the thread) can be adapted to any format.

If you’d like to get a handle on the Krell, shoot me a PM and I’ll have you up and Krelling in no time! w00t
synkrotron
Hovercraft wrote:

--No physical control by the artist once the piece has started.

--Some level of unexpectedness in the composition.

--The piece can never be precisely repeated a second time.


Thanks for your input Hovercraft.

I certainly have a couple of those types of pieces under my belt now but they are based more on randomness and probability within my Beatstep Pro and Metropolis sequencers as at the moment I do not have any logic/probability modules.

cheers

andy
synkrotron
Dcramer wrote:
Always an interesting topic and one that has kept me interested for years.
For me, Generative means that much of the ‘musical stuff’ rhythms, pitches, harmonies, of a piece are created by the instrument, following certain guidelines created by the composer.

If you can stomach some listening and a little reading, check out this thread;

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=202135

I took the liberty of creating what might well be Muffwigglers most documented patch when I was asked to create a specific Generative piece for a performance abroad.
The live album was released this weekend and consists of 75 minutes of Generative performance in which I perform the role of ‘conductor’ influencing tempo, brightness, and Mix, with the patch taking care of all the musical details.
Hardly a press record and go affair, I worked for almost four months on the project and rehearsed (yup woah ) the performance for two days prior.

So for me, Generative can be a patch that I participate in, but it can also be a piece in which all aspects of the resulting music are controlled by the patch.
(Check out my piece The RITE, for one such example)

If you can’t stomach a full 75 mins of the stuff, skip ahead to act two, about 5 mins in for the start of the fifth movement, 18 minutes that really shows off the patch in all its glory.

Fear not the Krell! It’s bog simple and like my Exodus patch (detailed in the thread) can be adapted to any format.

If you’d like to get a handle on the Krell, shoot me a PM and I’ll have you up and Krelling in no time! w00t




Hiya Daniel,

Thanks for chipping in here, I really appreciate it. I am already in awe of your skills in the generative department having read some of your topics, studied some of your schematics and listened to/watched some of your Utrecht performance, and, to be frank, you are, in part, to blame for me wanting to create generative stuff.

Others to blame are Mylar Melodies and Patrick O'Brian, who I have already mentioned, plus Alastiar Wilson, who does some fine Mother 32 stuff and also gis_sweden, who I am familiar with from the ambient online forum.

I could certainly do with getting my head around some of the basics. I tend to get distracted by my sequencers and go of at a tangent instead of concentrating on this kind of thing.

Been listening to Act I as I type... Love the stereotypical brassy bass sounds in there. Always reminds me of Close Encounters, which I love, when the bass bits suddenly strike up... Sends a shiver down my spine!

Might be worth having a quick look at my current system, which is in my signature at the bottom. Just to give you an idea of what you could do with my stuff. No rush, and I don't want to trouble you too much, but if you get some spare time that would be great.

I have Pamela's New Workout arriving soon, I hope... Have it on back order. I intend using it as a master clock and also to provide more LFO/modulation sources.

I posted one of my "sort of" generative pieces here, but, again, only if you get time. Not a "patch" on your stuff haha!


Cheers, and here's to generative music Guinness ftw!

andy
mskala
I hate the word "generative," it always sounds to me like incorrect grammar (shouldn't it mean music that generates something? what? do people really mean "generated"? then generated by what?), but I think a lot of the music I make is the kind of thing people mean when they use this word. Something I find interesting as a goal to pursue is having at least some (it is infeasible for it to be all) of the "creative" decisions that would otherwise be made by a human composer, be made by an algorithm or a random process instead. And this should preferably be done in a way that might seem to the listener to be beyond what could be done by human intervention. For example, in a project like the one in this recent Web log entry I chose rules I wanted the notes to follow, and I turned some knobs on the synth while I was recording it, but none of the notes were directly played or chosen by me. Nonetheless it has some harmonic and melodic structure that emerge from those rules without having been explicitly composed.
Dcramer
Nicely balanced system Synkrotron, and easily capable of some tasty Krelliness with the Doepfer voltage controlled ADSR Guinness ftw!

And I see you have an A-120 lpf, that’s what I used for those brassy bass tones, but not by sweeping it with a saw patched in; I patched in a triangle and ‘audio rate’ modulated it with a thin pulse, using the varying Pitts Envelope to control how much FM it was getting.
Sounding killer in the large PA system with huge subs twisted
GuyaGuy
Just because it's not been mentioned and I actually like labels I'll point out that there is a difference between generative music and self-generating patches. For the most part self-generating patches are a type of generative music, i.e. the composer/patcher sets up a patch and lets it run. But generative music can also be made acoustically or by an app. And there are lots of self-generating patches that are just straight-up repetitive and therefore not generative.

Also, I wouldn't consider Reich's pieces generative since they aren't actually always different, which is one of the key elements of generative music. It's Gonna Rain is always going to start synced, get out of sync, and end up synced, even if performed "live" on 2 tape players that take a bit longer to arrive at that moment.

Eno, who coined the term, uses it to describe music that comes from a system but is never the same--whether because of user interaction, evolutions set up within system, or whatever else.

Of course, whether or not you want to make music that fits that definition is totally up to you.
Umcorps
GuyaGuy wrote:


Eno, who coined the term, uses it to describe music that comes from a system but is never the same--whether because of user interaction, evolutions set up within system, or whatever else.



He also spoke of it as "gardening not architecture" which for me is about the most succinct and useful descriptor available.

Almost a Koan hihi
Dcramer
That’s so cool about Eno, I’m sure I’d read that but have long forgotten hmmm.....
cptnal
Umcorps wrote:
Almost a Koan hihi


Was that deliberate, Koan being the software Eno used to create the original Generative Music in the mid-nineties? I had a copy at the time and it was great fun. Bought it again a few years ago, but by that time making music on computers had run its course. In retrospect it was a bit of a straw-clutching exercise. Dead Banana
Umcorps
cptnal wrote:
Umcorps wrote:
Almost a Koan hihi


Was that deliberate, Koan being the software Eno used to create the original Generative Music in the mid-nineties?



Very! screaming goo yo
Umcorps
cptnal wrote:
I had a copy at the time and it was great fun. Bought it again a few years ago, but by that time making music on computers had run its course. In retrospect it was a bit of a straw-clutching exercise. Dead Banana


I got a copy of Koan v1 on the day it came out. I'd seen a demo preview a couple of months before and it was the only music software I'd seen capable of doing what I thought music software should do. So I couldn't wait to get hold of a copy. And, one way or the other, I've stayed with it ever since.

These days, for myself, I use its modern successor mostly as a multichannel midi controller, running it on an iPad. The midi engine at its core, even after all this time, retains its capacity to surprise and inspire me.
Arders Bergdahl
I agree with the Reich/Eno definition of generative... is you set up a system so that the different part (loops, sequencer, lFO's and whatever) so that each "part" of the system will never (or at least VERY seldom) stand in the same relationship to one and another then each moment of "music" will be different. EVEN if each part is extraordinary repetitive and predictable.. So that's why generative music tends to gravitate towards "music for airports" .
Krell is a bit more random and affects more variable but after a few minutes, generally, you start to feel that all you hear are variations of a theme, and it, to me, gets a bit boring.
i tend to setup generative and INSTABLE patches and the wiggle them, the idea being that each wiggle will produce a complex set of events that will radically affect many parts of the system. and thus make it act as some sort of monster that is ALMOST impossible to control.. as a guitarist i see a parallel of a strat and big Marshall stacks that are on 10 so that as soon as you let the guitar be the least uncotroled it will go of in feedvack frenzy...
So I'm after CONTROLLING (almost) a complex, unstable, generative patch.. does it make sense... and is the music generative (since i seldom use scales and rhtyhm in the traditional sense you might not want to call it music..)
BenA718
I have found this discussion to be really helpful. I like the idea of ‘cells’ and will give that a try. It certainly differentiates ‘generative’ from ‘random’ which I feel many people (including myself) conflate. But, like many things related to modular, it sounds more like a self-imposed rule rather than an actual ‘rule’.

Now to digest Dcramer’s thread!
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