Graduate Music Seminar in Emergent Interactive Systems

Emergent Interactive Structures in Music explores properties of emergence and how these systems can be applied in music. The seminar looks at the design of complex interactive systems that yield patterned behavior and considers how to compose the temporal evolution of this behavior. In particular we deal with virtual and physical structures that interact in real time with human and environmental input. The class will collaborate closely with Jason Johnson's Robotic Ecologies Lab (ARCH 562) in the Architecture School. We will also interact with my MICE (Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble) Orchestra in the 200-person Digital Sound Art Composition class (MUSI 235).



collab site for robotics (click)

our books (click to order)
Loy, Musimathics vol 1: I like this book because it views music as physical and object-based. It is based in math and this common language will facilitate our collaboration with the architects. The architects will read chapters 1-3 and we will read 4-5 on the Physical and Geometrical Basis of Sound.

Steven Johnson's "Emergence: the connected lives of ants, brains, cities and software" will help frame our discussion of emergence as we compose musical systems and physical spaces.


work collaboratively to develop performative instruments that sense, compute and respond to emergent atmospheric inputs.

read about the robotics ecology lab here

design swarm logic programs using a massive network of intelligent agents.

read about MICE here

rethink approaches to composition in terms of bottom-up organization: simplicity/complexity dialectics, data quantity, randomness and adaptation, material/form interaction.

run some cellular automata for inspiration



week 1: discussion on music compositions: Da Capo pieces, musical structure, etc.

week 2: presentatations with Robotic Ecologies Lab in the Architecture School
Choose one image corresponding to a short excerpt of your music (score, visualization, etc).

week 3-4, project 1: technoscrap
interactive BEAMS instruments using environmental interaction to produce sound. They store up energy then perform something!

week 5: composition as slime mold (discussion of Johnson book)

project 2: MICE: create an experiment using data from 100+ networked computers and processing it.

project 3: Interactive emergent systems responding to ecological input. collaboration with architecture students.

discussion: emergent composition analysis and discussion

final: review showings