“Computer Music,” a choral composition for mixed voices facilitated by a computer program

By: Megan Aldrich ’21

Advising Faculty: Andrew Greenwald

Project Site

Majors: Computer Science and Music

Internship: General Dynamics Electric Boat, New London, CT

Recipient of the 2021 Music Department Sarah Nichols ‘46 Award and Connor Donohue ‘07 Memorial Award


Project/Mission Statement

Computer Music is a short, three-movement choral composition project that has been in the works since the Spring of 2020 (or more accurately the Spring of2019). This project embraces the collaboration of arts and technology, and demonstrates the struggles of this collaboration. What may seem like a relatively normal choral composition is actually heavily facilitated by an algorithm which was written to generate many of the notes in the piece. The algorithm used to generate these notes was written in python. The python script then converted these notes into a format readable for the engraving program Lilypond, which is ultimately where the piece was composed. Through my work with this piece, I found that the computer could not always be programmed to create the exact sound that I wanted, and the algorithm would not always produce a melodic line that I enjoyed. This led me to take the technology from a computer to a pencil and paper and intervene to modify the piece when I did not like what the computer was producing. This juxtaposition of the aid that a computer provides, as well as the complications that it might provide an artist can be heard through the increasing chaos of the music and the lyrics in each movement.

Related Fields: Ammerman Center