On generative compositions

When I started writing generative music, barely anyone was interested in the concept.


One radio interviewer understood the idea and thought I would become a millionare by the end of the last century, but it was only a few months ago that a generative work of mine was actually installed and ran for 4 months in an Australian gallery. Prior to that, the only generative works that I have “performed” in Australia have been via our (Toy Satellite) initiatives, or via the bold and far reaching vision of the ABC’s Listening Room, which I believe is being taken off air.

These days there is hardly anyone that doesn’t talk about generative art and there are countless more who consider themselves in the vanguard of this genre. It is really quite remarkable!

I wonder now what it is that drives people to create generative works? Is it that they want something fresh to inspire their work by? For me, it is the idea, the concept or the context of the original work that is the driver, not necessarily the process or the software for that matter.

At a recent performance someone looked over my shoulder, before I started playing, and made some stupid remark when they saw Fruity Loops, which was actually FLStudio Pro. If they bothered to listen, rather than judge the work by the software, they may have learnt something of the capability of something like Fruity to assist in the creation of works other than those that are beat driven.

I love using Koan and have done since the first moment I had it running, way back in 95. Suddenly, I was able to actuate ideas that had been sketched back in the 80s, and I was able to “jam” with my computers and create a body of work I would otherwise have only dreamt about.

Although I enjoy “playing” with software, as I did last night with the new version of Mulch, it is generally the idea that is the driver, not necessarily the software, although there have been pieces that have grown out of these playtimes too… and that’s great!