I believe that programming languages and artificial intelligence algorithms have a tremendous capacity to augment human creativity, and I explore this through music. Although I also sometimes compose music without the involvement of a machine, much of my current musical work has focused on using the computer as a partner in the composition process rather than simply as a tool for more standard music production. I have also recently been experimenting with sound manipulation and visualizations.

Algorithmic Compositions using Kulitta

Kulitta is a framework for algorithmic and automated composition system that I developed as the subject of my dissertation at Yale University. It (or “she”) is the main subject of my ongoing work in music and artificial intelligence. Kulitta uses a combination of generative grammars and geometric models from music theory to break down complex composition tasks into an iterative process. GitHub repository: https://github.com/donya/KulittaCompositions

Etude by Kulitta (PDF score, listen on SoundCloud) – composed by Kulitta and performed by me on piano. This piece illustrates Kulitta’s capacity for handling performance constraints as well as Kulitta’s stylistic blending capabilities, mixing models and rules for classical music (some of which are derived from Bach chorales) with models for jazz harmony.

Tandava (watch on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud). Algorithmic composition using Kulitta to generate percussion and piano. This piece was an experiment in expanding Kulitta’s capabilities in the rhythmic domain, creating complex patterns in a variety of different meters. Visuals were generated algorithmically.

Vesicuaria (watch on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud) – created by playing phrases generated by Kulitta through analog and digital synthesizers with real-time manipulation of the synthesizer parameters. This piece uses two kinds of generative grammars in Kulitta: one for melodic motion (heard in the first part of the piece), and another for modeling harmony. Vesicularia was performed at Electronic Music Midwest 2016 at Lewis University. Visuals were created algorithmically.

Tourmaline (watch on youTube, listen on SoundCloud) – a three-movement work created with Kulitta and with digital synthesizers. Each movement utilizes different features of Kulitta. This piece was part of the Paul Hudak Memorial Symposium Listening Room at Yale University in April, 2016. Visuals were generated algorithmically.


Creative Coding with Processing

Since joining the Center of Creative Computation at SMU, I have been using Processing to teach students how to program. I have also created audio/visual programs in Processing that have been showcased on a four-screen display outside the Center. GitHub repository: https://github.com/donya/CreativeCoding

Abstract Sound V (watch on YouTube). On display in April, 2017 outside the Center of Creative Computation at Southern Methodist University. An attractor-based model where agents are drawn to sources of light and emit sounds when nearby. This project makes use of a MIDI-handling library I have been developing for Processing. See also: Abstract Sound Series Page (screen-captured versions of all Abstract Sound installations).

Pentatonic Piano Rectangles (watch on YouTube). On display in October, 2016 outside the Center of Creative Computation at Southern Methodist University. Three agents wander around the screen, choosing combinations of musical rectangles to activate, each of which produces a particular pitch. The screen periodically re-arranges itself into new shapes. This project makes use of a MIDI-handling library I have been developing for Processing.

Abstract Sound I (watch on YouTube). On display in December, 2016 outside the Center of Creative Computation at Southern Methodist Universtiy. Stochastically generated visual patterns appear and trigger sounds created from manipulated recorded audio. Some of the sounds are very strong and clear, while others are more subtle with microtonal differences, which leads to interesting sonic interactions. See also: Abstract Sound Series Page (screen-captured versions of all Abstract Sound installations).


Original Compositions

In the last several years, my original musical work outside of Kulitta has focused on sound manipulation and the creation of gradually evolving sonic scenes. Previously, I have also worked on more traditional-style scores for acoustic and digital instruments. The following illustrate a combination of these approaches.

From a Dream (watch on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud) – a sound-manipulation piece created using piano and guitar. Visuals were created algorithmically.

Fanatasy for Bottles (watch on YouTube, listen on SoundCloud) – written for a collection of glass bottle virtual instruments I developed using the Euterpea library for Haskell. I wrote the note-level score for this manually and then rendered it to audio using the Euterpea-based virtual instruments. Visuals were created algorithmically.