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Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ok for some basics, July 3, 2012
This review is from: Algorithmic Composition: Paradigms of Automated Music Generation (Paperback)
I was going to buy this but luckily I found a copy in my uni library. This book has many errors and it only covers style imitation, not musical composition. I was amazed that the author even admits this in the book, and goes on to erroneously say that real algorithmic composition is not the subject of the book. I have just been looking around, and I found this review very helpful:

The basics of the key tools of algorithmic composition are adequately covered in this book, and as such it does a mostly competent job of presenting them fairly clearly, but only in the realm of style imitation and despite many detailed errors. One of the things I found while reading the book was that I wished for an included disc, or even a Web site, with the musical examples available for playback so that I could quickly listen to them. I hope that the publisher and author consider this, as it would improve the book as a teaching resource. I also found the numerous errors misspellings, and typographical errors to be distracting, and potentially worrying.I approached this book with a large degree of enthusiasm and optimism, unfortunately I left it feeling disappointed.

The emphasis on style imitation in the book and the lack of discussion of "genuine composition" is, I feel, a great shortcoming. There was an important opportunity here togo beyond style imitation--to me, as a composer, it is the least interesting or useful aspect of algorithmic composition--and delve into the more difficult realm of creative composition of compelling musical works. Furthermore, the book does not delve into algorithmic sound synthesis(surely still micro-composition), or examine in detail how some composers have used algorithmic principles to create great works, let alone attack the core issue itself. While the systems outlined in the book may be applied in a range of ways from the superficial and trivial to the very sophisticated, nowhere is the problem addressed of what musical composition really is. This has been a problem with some other books on algorithmic style imitation, but to my mind, musical composition is something other than the application of a set of rules (particularly music theory rules), and it goes beyond this. Style imitation already has a large body of literature; I feel this book does a competent job of pulling much of it together, but it has missed an opportunity to go further and add to the literature on algorithmic approaches to genuine composition.

Maybe if I'm doing musicological research on specific styles, this book would be useful, but not for a composition student or working composer.
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