"Cage, and those aleatoric guys."
"I suppose it's not their fault. They couldn't have done much more, given the technology of their times. But it could be taken much further."
"This isn't another DNA- or skyline-music thing, is it?"
"No, no. Although I suppose you could incorporate something like that, too. I was thinking Dissociated Music."
"Oh, I see. You take a bunch of Beethoven, Mozart, and that crowd, and every note, or every three notes, or something, you find that pattern somewhere else and continue on from there."
"Right! Although you could go further still. I mean, what about transpositions? The key something is played in is really pretty arbitrary."
"Not if you believe in the difference between C-sharp and D-flat."
"Okay, aside from that. But you're right, let's not tie ourselves down to one particular instrument. Every note has two qualities, right? Pitch and duration?"
"What about trills? And tone colour? You want to do Fourier analysis for every note, too?"
"Okay, pure tones only, smartass. What was I talking about?"
"Right. So characterize every note by the ratio between its pitch and previous note's. That's utterly free of any representation, and you could mix and match whole-tone stuff and anything you bloody well want in there. So each two-note sequence is mapped into whatever 'key' the last notes happened to be in. Polytonality is likely to be rampant."
"How about accompaniment? Can you generalize this to write fugues? Crab canons?"
"You've been reading too much Hofstadter. But yeah, accompaniment is a problem because it can really screw things up. If you're not characterizing a single note, but a configuration of several, then it becomes much harder to match notes, let alone sequences. So I'll stick to melody lines for now."
"Sounds good. Should I put out an ad in the paper? 'Data Entry Position Available; Music Theory Expertise Required.'"
"It'd be easier if you could just play the music and let the computer extract the notes, but that would require Fourier analysis. Oh, well. Where would I be without fifteen incompletable tasks?"
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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / firstname.lastname@example.org