July 07, 2014

Lee Cannon-Brown Undergraduate Fellowship Award Profile


Area of study: Music
Faculty supervisor: Arne Eigenfeldt

How have your academic endeavors prepared you for this experience?

My literacy in Western music – its notation, its theory, and its history – prepares me to carry out the research I’m doing.

Give us a description of the research project and your role during your working semester.

The research project seeks to develop a piece of software that can generate original music in specific, user-designated styles. My role in the project is to transcribe and analyze a large amount of music, and to help devise ways to improve the software. I use a music notation program called Finale both to transcribe music, and to export that music as MIDI information. The transcription and analysis is fairly specific, as I have to cater to the software for which I’m transcribing. Slowly, a large digital library of music is being constructed. As I transcribe, I organize this library according to separate musical styles, so that when generative music is composed, it is based on the source material of a single, stylistically consistent musical corpus. The more this process is tested and proven to be effective, the more my role in the research project becomes associated directly with Eigenfeldt’s software, and even with broader ideas about generative music.

What do you hope to gain through this opportunity? How do you envision this experience contributing to your future academic and professional career?

Recently, Eigenfeldt premiered a new piece created entirely by his generative music software. In it, many human performers were used, and each performer had an iPad in front of them. As Eigenfeldt generated the piece live with his computer, the performers’ iPads displayed the corresponding notation, which wrote itself across their screens in real time, and they sight-read it. By being involved not only with working on Eigenfeldt’s software, but also in performances like these, I’m able to get experience with generative music that I likely wouldn’t otherwise.