Generative music in your web browser with WolframTones
21st May 2009 | 11:59
To the ardent computer musician, there's only one thing better than music made using computers and that's music made by computers. We're talkin' 'bout good old generative music software, of course, and lately we've been getting plenty of mileage out of WolframTones, which was put together a few years ago by the same data-bothering boffins as the headline-hogging WolframAlpha "computational knowledge engine".
The neat thing about WolframTones is that it runs in your web browser, so you can enjoy a hot stream of generative MIDI music wherever you can find an internet connection, with no special software required. Just head to the site, select a musical style, crank up your laptop speakers and bask in the glory of genuine 'computer music'!
The fantastical blurb from Wolfram's site explains that it "works by taking simple programs from Wolfram's computational universe, and using music theory and Mathematica algorithms" to create totally fresh tune. Typical results range from cheesily generic to unusual and meandering. There are numerous controls with which to tailor the generation of tunes; for instance, as well as picking a musical style, you can choose from an extensive selection of scales, leading to such fanciful combinations as R&B utilising a chromatic bebop scale.
Here's how it looks:
Occasionally, the system can throw up some genuinely neat musical ideas, and if you hit upon something that you'd like to use in a real piece of music, you can save that particular tune for later recall, beam it to your mobile phone to use as a ringtone, or even email it out as a MIDI file for a makeover in your DAW.
Here are a couple of examples of MIDI files generated with WolframTones and then loaded into Ableton Live 8 to be pumped through some of the stock Live instruments:
If the file doesn't play properly, right-click the link and select Save As to download the MP3.