Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Generative Music and Cellular Automata
David M Burraston
2nd Author
3rd Author
PhD Computing Science
Number of Pages
Creativity & Cognition Studios, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia
Thesis Supervisor
Prof. Ernest Edmonds
Supervisor e-mail
dave AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Faculty of IT / Computing Science
Languages Familiar to Author
URL where full thesis can be found
Cellular Automata, Complex Systems, Generative Music, Reflective Practice, Experimental Music, Global Dynamics
Abstract: 200-500 words
Complex systems such as Cellular Automata (CA) produce global behaviour based on the interactions of simple units (cells). They are fascinating objects, producing more pattern than a single human is capable of observing within their own lifetime. Their evolution is specified by local interaction rules that generate some form of ordered, complex or chaotic behaviour. This wide variety of behaviour represents an important generative tool for the artist. However, chaotic behaviour dominates rule space, which has serious implications for application and investigation. The main contribution of this thesis is a new perspective into a recognised key problem, the structure of rule space. This is achieved through empirical observation of a fundamental connection between state space and rule space. The methodology combines experimental music composition and reflective practice in its approach. The techniques are based on recent perspectives of CA theory, called global dynamics, and music composition practice. The significant problem of identifying rule space structure is approached from an artists perspective to obtain mixtures of behaviour, which differs from the traditional method of grouping together similar dynamics. A detailed account exposes the main process of creating mixed, but related groups of CA rules. The approach taken provides an interesting and alternative method of studying CA rule spaces in general, independent of musical application. Further contributions are made throughout the thesis and provide a significant foundation for the main contribution relating to rule space structure. An extensive review of CA and their application in music presents a balanced view of the field to set the work in context. The methodology proposes criteria for evaluation of this new approach to rule space structure. Important concepts of global dynamics are utilised in composition practice for the first time, enabling the key observations on the state and rule space connection. Fundamental connections between well known rules and music composition technology are introduced to establish links between the fields. This approach to produce generative music is fundamentally different from previous work and several descriptions of CA music mappings are presented in a practice-based context. New generative music compositions, a significant amount of CA data and an electronic copy of the thesis are included on the CD-ROM. The state/rule space connection identified in this thesis has the potential to open new directions, in both science and music.