music : Java Glossary
©1996-2017 Roedy Green of Canadian Mind Products
Let take a birds’-eye overview of music. What is it? It is sound that humans
find particularly pleasing. It is structured, simplified sound. Humans can handle
much more complexity visually than auditorially because they have much more of their
brains dedicated to processing visual information. For sound to be pleasing we need
it massively dumbed down. Different humans have exceedingly different taste with the
taste cemented during adolescence. What makes some patterns of sound pleasing?
Usually musicians limit themselves to only 12 possible frequencies, the notes of the 12 tone scale. Each note is the twelfth root of 2 higher frequency than the previous.
After 12 increments you come back to one octave higher,
where the frequency is precisely twice where you started. Within that, most
musicians limit themselves to 8 possible notes of that
12 (or octave multiples). Further, they have rules on
how you are allowed to pick the 8, to form for example
a B♭ major scale.
which notes you are allowed to play at the same time, or within a
short time span.
Most western music is based on 4 or
3 beats in a bar, a cadence like marching or dancing.
People like to hear the same patterns over and over with some
variation or evolution.
ConsistencyIt would be obvious to you if someone created a
composition by randomly selecting a bar from other compositions. The pieces need
to fit together is some hard to pin down way. Music usually fits into a
consistent genre, then within its own subgenre within a piece.
So how could you expand the rules to experiment?
- You could experiment with using different numbers of notes in your octave, e.g.
16 or picking 10 notes out of
16 to see if there are any patterns that are
- You could experiment with playing different notes together that are thought not
to mix, perhaps for only very short times.
- You could use music with 5, 7, 15 beats per bar, or with 7 against 4 in the same bar, or allow the
beats per bar to vary on a bar by bar basis, perhaps in some
pattern other than all the same.
- You could interweave two themes (much the way a movie cuts back and forth
between two stories) allowing each to evolve.
- Since with computers you can control volume very precisely, you could
experiment with music using rapidly changing volume levels or with background
themes barely audible.
- Electronic instruments traditionally mimic analog ones. Yet there is no need
for them to be anything like them. They could behave in much more varied ways,
e.g.note gets louder over time, frequency spectrum shifts over time, rapid
Unfortunately, the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) tools available cheaply to amateurs have the
12-tone scale and many conventions of western music hard
wired in. You will pretty well have to build you own software synthesizer to
You should be able to buy music in electronic form, just like software, but you
cannot since there is no accepted anti-piracy scheme. You have to buy on
CD (Compact Disc)
or DVD (Digital Video Disc). online stores where you can buy
CDs (Compact Discs)
and DVDs (Digital Video Discs)