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Page 00000001 DISCO: AN OBJECT-ORIENTED SYSTEM FOR MUSIC COMPOSITION AND SOUND DESIGN Hans G. Kaper,1 Sever Tipei,2 and Jeff M. Wright3 1 MCS Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439, USA (email@example.com) 2 School of Music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA (firstname.lastname@example.org) 3 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA (email@example.com) Abstract. This paper describes an object-oriented approach to music composition and sound design. The approach unifies the processes of music making and instrument building by using similar logic, objects, and procedures. The composition modules use an abstract representation of musical data, which can be easily mapped onto different synthesis languages or a traditionally notated score. An abstract base class is used to derive classes on different time scales. Objects can be related to act across time scales, as well as across an entire piece, and relationships between similar objects can replicate traditional music operations or introduce new ones. The DISCO (Digital Instrument for open-ended work in progress. 1. INTRODUCTION The compositional process is based on the assumption that aural events can be ordered in time: a musical composition represents a trajectory in sound space. The composer controls the structure, if not the details, of the trajectory and thus the nature of the composition. The control takes the form of an algorithm-a set of rules governing the nature of the objects, their evolution, and their interrelations-which defines the musical composition. Composing thus means defining objects and relating those attributes that yield a desired trajectory in sound space. The object-oriented paradigm and the software implementation we describe here reflect this point of view. They also provide a way of merging two activities which, traditionally, have been considered separate: writing music and building instruments. With the exception of Harry Partch [Partch, 1960], who built actual instruments responsive to his music's structure (based on ratios), and Xenakis [Xenakis, 1993], who used stochastic distributions to generate the structure of computer-generated sounds as well as large Sonification and Composition) system is an scale textures, few composers have shown an interest in combining these two areas. The system presented here treats both activities in a uniform way by using similar logic, objects, and procedures. The software modules for music composition and sound design are consistently and comprehensively interconnected. The resulting code, currently referred to as DISCO (Digital Instrument for Sonification and Composition), is a work in progress. The system was used recently by one of the authors for the composition of a piece for violin and computer-generated tape [Tipei, 2000]. 2. OBJECTS AND PROPERTIES The composition modules use an abstract representation of musical data, which can easily be mapped onto different synthesis languages or, as the case may be, a traditionally notated score. This is achieved by defining "Instrument" and "Property" classes in response to the requirements of the target output. The Instrument class is essentially a collection of properties that define all of an instrument's
Page 00000002 control parameters. A very simple instrument might be defined by the properties "Start Time," "Duration" and "Pitch." Each property is stored in a table, which is indexed by a string identifier. The Instrument class includes the methods describing the manner in which the instrument's output is to be generated. Note that the Instrument class does not necessarily correspond to any actual instrument, but serves rather as an abstraction for defining the properties of a given sound object. The Property class enables us to easily classify the different properties of a sound object. A composition would likely contain a number of sound objects sharing certain properties, such as "Start Time." In this case, the advantages of the polymorphic nature of the system become evident, as one can work with these properties without knowing the type of instrument. The Property class also incorporates methods to check for the correct type of input data. For example, many instruments share the property "Pitch," which may be represented as a floating-point frequency value, as an integer that indexes a tuning table, or as a string spelling the name of a note. 3. TIME SCALES The perception of aural events and their organization in larger structures points to the existence of time scales associated with particular objects. We mention, in order of increasing magnitude, the time scales of audio frequencies and of frequency and amplitude modulations, which affect partials and sounds; the time scales associated with melodic phrases, chordal aggregates and more complex textures; the time scales of larger formal units, such as sections and movements; and the time scale associated with an entire piece [K~aper, 1999a]. An abstract base class, "Event," is used to derive classes on different time scales. The Event class has a relatively simple structure, which is defined by three attributes: start time, duration and name. Subclasses are derived from it in response to particular needs. An event may contain other events and thus become a "Compound Event." An entire piece is the most inclusive compound event. At the other extreme are the "Atomic Events," which do not include other events. Partials in a sound or the graphic symbol of a note in a printed score are examples of atomic events. "Sections," "Phrases," "Motives," "Chords" and "Aggreggates" are compound events which contain events of shorter or equal duration and may be themselves part of larger structures-of other compound events. Besides the three inherited attributes (start time, duration and name), the derived classes have the property that they can be related to other similar classes or to classes of finer or coarser granularity. The type of a class, as well as its potential relations to other classes, are reflected in the class's name. Relationships or associations can act across time scales. An example is the congregation of partials into sounds, of sounds into chords or melodic gestures, and of sections into a composition. Also, more sophisticated relationships can be established between objects at different time scales and/or different locations in the piece. For example, the presence of a sound with a particular spectral envelope may trigger the assignment of a specific chord in a remote section of the piece. Relationships between similar objects can replicate traditional music operations, such as transposition, inversion, and retrograde of a group of sounds, augmentation/diminution of durations or pitch intervals, chord inversion or other rearrangements of sounds in a chord, etc. 4. HIGHER LEVEL OF ABSTRACTION "Generator" classes provide the composer with the ability to generate events based on some specific algorithm. They are designed to serve across time scales and can be of a generalized or specific type. For example, a simple random generator can create "NumberProperty" objects, which can be assigned any property of an instrument or event that is derived from the NumberProperty class. A specific generator to create only events of a certain type can be obtained by combining several simple generators into an "Event Generator." One such utility, already in place, is designed to select the number of partials within a sound, the number of
Page 00000003 sounds in a cluster, or the number of sections in a piece according to a selected probability distribution. Another utility, the "Envelope" class, also in place, reads an envelope and interpolates values as necessary, thus giving the user control over the shape of events on various time scales. Still other classes enable the user to assign values manually from a list of possibilities or by using a script. We intend to design a number of common algorithmic composition techniques as Generator classes to implement customized algorithmic techniques of the composer's design. These classes will be extendible and can be used by themselves, as well as in combination. 5. METHODS AND APPLICATIONS The type of classes and the methods to relate them are determined by the type of music the user wishes to compose. Objects like "Melody," "Chord" and "Rhythm," and methods such as "Canon" and "Chorale" anticipate a traditional composition; "Markov," "Stochastic" and "Heterophony" show a different bend. While the initial emphasis was on less-than-traditional modes of composing, the system has acquired a much wider scope and now supports traditional, as well as nontraditional thinking. In addition, it supports sound design for scientific sonification-- the faithful rendition of complex data sets in sounds [Kaper, 1999b]. The DISCO system is a truly open-ended work in progress, which is continuously being enriched with new classes and methods. Among the first utilities developed for the DISCO system was the "Matrix" class. It was designed to enable the choice of a start time and a duration for each section in a Manifold Composition according to certain probability distributions. A Manifold Composition is essentially a collection of variants of one and the same piece, differing in details but with a similar overall structure [Tipei, 1989]. The differences between the variants are the result of stochastic choices. We briefly explain how the Matrix class was used to construct the probability matrices for the choice of start times and durations. Suppose there are n + 1 time marks in the piece (including the start time and end time). The start time of each section is supposed to coincide with one of the time marks. The end time of the piece cannot be the start time of a section, so there are n possible start times; we label them tl through t,. Each time mark tj has a certain weight qj associated with it, which measures the likelihood of the time mark becoming the start time of a section. Suppose there are m possible sections, labeled sl through s,. Each section si has a certain (relative) weight wi associated with it; furthermore, s, has a certain probability pij to become active at the time mark tj. Using the Matrix class, a probability matrix P is constructed with m rows and n columns. The elements of P are Z,=1 Z?=1 wkPklql i = 1,...,n.m, j =,..., n. Then Pij is the probability that section s, will start at the time mark tj. Once the start times have been chosen, the duration di of each section si is determined from a probability matrix Q, which is constructed in a similar manner. The matrices P and Q are dynamically adjusted. Once a start time and a duration have been assigned to a particular section, adjustments are made to diminish the probability that any other section is selected during the same time interval or at nearby times. The Matrix class enables the assignment of events in any order, not necessarily as they appear in the piece-a reflection of the way most human composers work. The class has the potential of correlating various rationales leading to a particular selection, and its methods can be used in connection with any parameter values and intervals of any event. Not only sections in a piece can be defined this way, but also sounds in a section, chords and motives in a section, etc. A logical step will be to combine the matrices for the selection of start times and durations into one three-dimensional matrix and, eventually, to include all parameters in a single multidimensional matrix. Any one choice will then be the result of a combination of all available criteria and will determine all aspects of an event. Finding the appropriate data representation for such a multidimen
Page 00000004 sional matrix, however, is not trivial-especially in C++. 6. INTERFACES All the basic classes described here have been implemented in C++. However, even for experienced programmers, C++ is a difficult language, and although some composers are excellent programmers, we cannot assume that all composers are willing to spend the time and effort to become proficient in C++. For this reason, most C++ classes have an analagous interface in Python, an interpreted high-level object-oriented language that is considerably easier to learn than C++ [Lutz, 1996; Beazley, 1999]. The choice of language is left to the user. The wrapper code that allows the C++ classes to be used as Python classes is generated by SWIG [Beazley, 1996], which automates the process of combining C and C++ code with higher-level languages such as Python, Perl and Tcl. Although Python is currently the only language supported by the system, it is relatively simple to generate wrappers for Perl and Tcl. 7. CONCLUSION In this paper we have described an object-oriented system for music composition and sound design. The object-oriented approach has the advantage that one can easily add different classes and/or methods taylored to a particular composition or aesthetic. The code is like an open-ended work in progress, which invites the creation of structures and relationships between sounds not yet employed. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This work was supported by the Mathematical, Information, and Computational Sciences Division subprogram of the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research, U.S. Department of Energy, under Contract W-31-109-Eng-38. REFERENCES Partch, H. 1960. Genesis of a Music; An Account of a Creative Work, Its Roots and Its Fulfillments, New York, Da Capo Press, Second Edition (1974). Xenakis, I. 1992. Formalized Music, Thought and Mathematics in Music, Revised Edition, Pendragon Press, pp. 289-293. Tipei, S. 2000. "AntiPhan" for Violin and ComputerGenerated Tape (unpublished). Kaper, H. G. and Tipei, S. 1999a. "Formalizing the Concept of Sound," Proc. Int'l. Computer Music Conference, Beijing, China, pp. 387-390. Kaper, H. G., Tipei, S., and Wiebel, E. 1999b. "Data Sonification and Sound Visualization," Computing in Science and Engineering, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 48-58. Tipei, S. 1989. "Manifold Compositions: A (Super) Computer-Assisted Composition Experiment in Progress," Proc. Int'l. Computer Music Conference, Columbus, Ohio, pp. 324-327. Lutz, M. 1996. Programming Python, O'Reilly & Associates. Beazley, D. 1999. Python Essential Reference, New Riders. Beazley, D. 1996. "SWIG: An Easy to Use Tool for Integrating Scripting Languages with C and C++," Presented at the 4th Annual Tcl/Tk Workshop, Monterey, Cal. (http://www.swig.org/papers/Tcl96/tcl96.html)