Polyphonic Music Composition with Grammars

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Abstract

We present a theoretical framework for automatic music composition with formal grammars and a focus on polyphonic structures. In the context of this thesis, a polyphonic structure is any arrangement of musical entities (notes, chords, measures, etc.) that is not purely sequential in the time dimension. Given that the natural output of a grammar is a sequence, the generation of sequential structures, such as melodies, harmonic progressions, and rhythmic patterns, follows intuitively and has already been explored in prior works. By contrast, we associate each musical entity with an independent temporal scope, allowing the representation of both sequential and parallel arrangements. With overlapping entities we can model chords, drum patterns, and parallel voices---polyphony on small and large scales. Beyond a foundational discussion of functional techniques for polyphonic composition with non-deterministic context-free grammars, we demonstrate the implementation and practical application of an automated composition system developed on these principles.

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BibTeX

@mastersthesis{eibensteiner-2021-pmcg,
  title =      "Polyphonic Music Composition with Grammars",
  author =     "Lukas Eibensteiner",
  year =       "2021",
  abstract =   "We present a theoretical framework for automatic music
               composition with formal grammars and a focus on polyphonic
               structures. In the context of this thesis, a polyphonic
               structure is any arrangement of musical entities (notes,
               chords, measures, etc.) that is not purely sequential in the
               time dimension. Given that the natural output of a grammar
               is a sequence, the generation of sequential structures, such
               as melodies, harmonic progressions, and rhythmic patterns,
               follows intuitively and has already been explored in prior
               works. By contrast, we associate each musical entity with an
               independent temporal scope, allowing the representation of
               both sequential and parallel arrangements. With overlapping
               entities we can model chords, drum patterns, and parallel
               voices---polyphony on small and large scales. Beyond a
               foundational discussion of functional techniques for
               polyphonic composition with non-deterministic context-free
               grammars, we demonstrate the implementation and practical
               application of an automated composition system developed on
               these principles.",
  month =      apr,
  address =    "Favoritenstrasse 9-11/E193-02, A-1040 Vienna, Austria",
  school =     "Research Unit of Computer Graphics, Institute of Visual
               Computing and Human-Centered Technology, Faculty of
               Informatics, TU Wien ",
  keywords =   "procedural music, composition, grammars",
  URL =        "https://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/research/publications/2021/eibensteiner-2021-pmcg/",
}