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Musical Composition with a High-Speed Digital Computer

A technique has been developed for writing music by means of automatic high speed digital computers such as ILLIAC, located at the Univeristy of Illinois. Random integers, considered the equivalent of musical notes, are first generated and then screened by mathematical operations which express the rules of composition. The control over the musical output is limited solely by the input instructions, and factors not specifically accounted for are left entirely to chance. Studies of the problems of strict counterpoint, of certain modern compositional procedures such as dissonant chromatic writing and tone-row generation, and of writing music by more abstract procedures based upon certain techniques of probability theory have been carried out. The results of these experiments have been collected into a four-movement transcription for string quartet entitled the -Illiac Suite.-


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