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software particle system, music, musical composition, musical behaviour, The Transformation Engine


This paper describes the development of a software particle system for musical composition. It employs a generator as described in William Reeves’ seminal 1983 paper on the subject, but one in which the particles are musical themes rather than images or points of light. This is distinct from an audio-level particle system such as might be employed effectively in conjunction with granular synthesis, because an audio-level process has no “musical intelligence” in the traditional sense as the term is used in discussing rhythm, melody, harmony or other traditional musical qualities. The particle system uses the author’s software, The Transformation Engine (Degazio 2003), as the musical engine for rendering particles. This allows the particle system to control relatively high-level musical parameters such as melodic contour, metrical placement and harmonic colour, in addition to fundamental parameters such as pitch and loudness. The musical theme corresponding to an individual particle can therefore evolve musically over the lifetime of the particle as these high-level parameters change.


Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design (FAAD)




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Original Publication Citation

Degazio, B. (2013). A particle system for musical composition. eContact, 15(2). Retrieved from


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