Musical performance practice during the Baroque period (approximately 1600 - 1750) required that a solo performer be adept at adding extemporaneous variations on the composer's original melody during performance. Atypically, George Phillip Telemann, in his "Methodical Sonatas", provided, along with the original melody line, a written-out variation of that line. Using knowledge of the Baroque style in general and that gleaned from an analysis of Telemann's variations in particular, this expert system models a Baroque musician's (expert's) process of creating such variations. The variation process (programmed in Prolog) involves transformations to a list structure which represents the piece. The system "chooses" these transformations based on general rules, rhythmic and melodic vocabularies, and the harmonic framework of the specific piece. In addition, global musical considerations such as the duplication of musical sequences found in the original and the creation of overall musical continuity are addressed during the generation process through a multiple viewpoints approach. To test the system, two variations were generated for each of ten musical movements. The expert has judged that syntactically the system works as anticipated, and semantically is generally successful; there remain possibilities, however, for refinement in replicating a more complete spectrum of human musical thought.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Variations--History and criticism--Data processing; Expert systems (Computer science); Computer composition
Department, Program, or Center
Computer Science (GCCIS)
Merck, Kathy Johnson, "An Expert system to generate musical variations in the style of Telemann" (1991). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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