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CMC2a/ACMC Tasks

Algorithmic Composition with SuperCollider - No GUI 1

Task 6 Name: Generative Composition Using SC 1 - Generative Composition Using SC 2 Set: w6i Due: w13i Weighting: assessable (15%) Courses: cmc2a
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Task Summary All CMC2a tasks VLE

Some techniques involving Algorithms and Generative Composition.

Algorithmic Presentation (pdf)

Other resources

- Search for 'Algorithm MaxMSP SuperCollider' in:
Google, Scholar, Books, Image, Video,
University Library

To Cover

By definition, anything you do using a computer is algorithmic, therefore every computer controlled piece, however, intuitive it may feel, is ultimately, at one level, algorithmic. Of course we, as people, don't really operative on that level, and most 'simple' arrangements and recordings are as intuitive as any analogue recording or, arguably, performance. (There's a whole area of discussion concerning the difference between live performance and recorded playback.)

  • Algorithmic Composition
  • Using MaxMSP
  • Using SC
  • Other Examples: IXI, pSY, Dionysius, etc.
  • Live Coding

The Files

3.6.x format (.scd):

The Task

Algorithms Without Using a GUI 1

  • Choose one of the first examples in the files above from the examples NOT using the GUI choose the file 'algorithms_all' to begin with, and using these as templates, create a patch that generates a simple algorithmic composition. It does not need to stop automatically, (although, of course, it may).

  • Alternatively, using the sc_to_logic.scd file, control sounds in Logic with these algorithms in SC. NB I haven't tried this out yet in Logic Pro X.

  • The composition should last between 20 and 40 seconds.

  • The composition will be very simple and only use sounds generated within SuperCollider - in this case these will usually be synthesised sounds.

  • Try using two or three SynthDefs, but check where the important arguments are (usually frequency and amplitude (or 'mul').

  • Use simple recurring, scalic or random patterns.

  • Don't expect to achieve too much, but credit will be given for technical expertise and imagination in implementation.

  • You should fully document your code, providing sufficiently full comments to ensure that any reasonably informed person could understand the result.

  • Make a demo recording of your patch working. Please keep the size down to a minimum (maximum duration approximately 1 minute). You can use the following code to record your effort (or the 'record' button on the server window):

// recording (to the SC directory)...
// use your own path below if you want.
s.recSampleFormat = "int16";
s.recChannels = 1; // number of channels
// use the particular path above...


  • Added value
    By completing the details of the task you will achieve at least a pass mark. By imaginatively and creatively considering how you might implement the task originally you can add value to your submission, and this added value may increase your mark significantly. Even when making videos of short demonstration tasks try to consider musical and performance criteria.


  • Compress (zip) your patches, demos, etc. into one file called your_student_number_"SCAlgNoGUI1" (e.g. 0504335_SCAlgNoGUI1.zip), include a readme with your name and student number and, if necessary, how to use or just open the patch.
  • Submit a copy of the files to the i-Centre on 2pm Tuesday December 19th 2017.

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The Projects

The projects and tasks are designed to help you through the various courses and materials that you'll have to deal with, and also to provide an active and practical element to what could otherwise become a rather dry and technical exercise. Tasks are small exercises - you may be asked to complete one or two per week. Projects are larger and carry a higher percentage of the mark. We will undertake two, three, four or more projects and tasks. The final project is usually an individual choice project, and will be worth significantly more than the others in terms of percentages in your portfolio. We will usually try to set aside a time to perform the projects in a public setting.