Fractal Music

Fractal: a geometric pattern that is repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry.

That seems to be an okay definition. The patterns were created:

Basic units.

Already kind of purty and fractally, I hope. The computer implemented these units at numerous scales of magnitude. And by magnitude, I mean tempo. In musical terms, I think that’s a reasonable translation for size or scale. The beats were subdivided and subdivided exponentially.

I then created color options through specifying a tone row and it’s retrograde. I also added color gradations by letting each tone also specify a key. Additional twists applied through some octave jumps.

I have made a fractal music in the past by manipulating frequencies with the Mandelbrot set, but I wanted to keep tempered pitches in this instance.

I also added some delay that would vary through assorted consonant values. The feedback of the delay enhances the contrapuntal nature of the music and adds some instrumental give and take. I chose a piano sound. Not the greatest, but it’s what I had available, and by manipulating the envelope of the sound, I could create a kind of fiddle voice to play along. Chamber piece for piano and strings. Trying for an acceptable musical equivalent of a fractal image. Here’s one:


That was the most recent attempt.  Due to a particular arrangement of sequencer reset triggers and a more circumspect use of delays, it seems to offer a fairly controlled and dramatic musical organization of the themes.  The ghost in the machine is a touch Romantic, I guess.  Here’s the first attempt with the present tone row:


Not bad.  More adventurous meter permutations.  More appearances by dissonant clusters.  Here’s the second attempt.  I used fewer sequencer resets and so it seems a bit more broad in its lines. Maybe more contemplative?


Some snaps and crackles and pops because of the fussiness of the delays. Sorry. Must keep tinkering.  I am using a nifty audio processing software with a modular interface: Plogue’s Bidule.

7 Thoughts on “Fractal Music

  1. I found that I liked the first one the best (not that this is a worthy metric or goal), but I found the last one very interesting. They were so much more than i expected of mathematical music.

    In a related note, you should watch this TED talk:

  2. Oh, and while you are at it, you should order this shirt (I already have mine):

  3. Wearing that shirt will remind me of when I tried to “sit in” on a Stanford online course on Fourier transforms. I followed along till I suddenly didn’t. Isn’t that always the way?

  4. And thanks for the TED talk. I feel so humble and sad with my little forays into computer sound play knowing what the Masters of the Universe are really up to in the real world. One day soon I will be served up as your next canapé, my friend. One day soon.

  5. Sounds like our most immediate threat of cyber-terrorism lies right here with what those f’ckers are up to in that gutted NYC high-rise.

  6. First, I agree w/you vis a vis the f’ers in the gutter high rise. Never thought that arbitrage would be measured in the wavelengths.

    Second, I thought the parallels between your work and theirs were quite good. Yours may be humble, but not sad.

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