various writings about the league copyright 2334w


John's program: My program is designed to generate occasional tones and sliding pitches in a time context of one tone every 1/4 second to 40 sec. of rest. Moment to moment choices of frequency, duration, waveform and frequency slides are based on a continually renewed list of random numbers. The potential for long moments of rest is important in that random musical activity appears to be more interesting when paid attention to as one might pay attention to passing birds or airplanes. My "data send" to Jim enables his computer to tune up harmonically with the tones coming from my computer. In this way we periodically lock together in just-intoned relationships.

TUNES FROM AND FOR A FICTIONAL CULTURE by Rich Gold and Virgule Period: This is a way you might want to think of the music my KIM is producing. The program stored in KIM is the music theory of a fictional culture, a culture that divides all music into two types: Possible and Impossible. Possible music can be played without breaking any of the rules of the Theory: Impossible music cannot. Needless to say, unlike KIM, in the backrooms, they play the Impossible.

There are a billion billion Possible pieces of music, all but a sliver will never be heard by humans. From this vast number of unheard pieces the composers of this culture select, each evening, a number of them to play. From this selection the audience is able to deductively understand the composer and inductively understand the Theory. Tonight, Jim Horton's computer will be calling the tunes. One of the odd macro-musical tenets of this theory, it should be noted, is given any one tune, there are only sixteen possible tunes that may follow. Some tunes are still millions of years away from even having a chance of being heard.

Jim's Program: I All data is structured by an interface and the structure's logic informs the imagination. II Ancient wisdom is Mathesis, the art of constructing and interpreting philosophical diagrams. Its basic logic is a mathematical theory of music: Just Intonation. The diagram was the interface by which experience could be correlated and imagination brought into conformity with the Cosmos. III Today a battle of the giants is being waged primarily between A.T.&T. and I.B.M. over the question: "who will control the interface?" to new worlds brought into being by the information explosion. IV A possible way to subvert monopolistic data formats is to construct and interpret a wide range of A.I. based personalized interfaces with corresponding experimental data structures and ways of imagining the world.

PRESS RELEASE 1979 Please list the following event in the calendar section of your paper:

THE LEAGUE OF AUTOMATIC MUSIC COMPOSERS Perform every other Sunday afternoon from 1 until 5 PM: march 4; March 18; April 1 and so on. At the Finnish Hall, 1819 10th Street, Berkeley. Sponsored by the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.

The League sets up an interactive network of computers, each computer producing its own music as well as sending information to the other computers in the network. The concert is informal, the first part simply being the construction of the network. The concert is free.

If there are any questions please contact Rich Gold, 652-7614. PRESS RELEASE

concert program and Ear article by Jim Horton


The League of Automatic Music Composers is an organization that seeks to invent new members by means of its projects. It believes that experimental construction of machines who compose and play music will provide us with new unheard of opportunities for developing our 'Divine Impulse to Advanced Listening.'

"Automatic Music", a band sponsored by the League, consists of three composer/performers and a musical system which is an interactive network of four digital computers.

Their approach to an artificial musical intelligence is broadly based on a cybernetic theory of mental activity. They are attempting to gain practical insight into the musical potential of systems that exemplify Gregory Bateson's six criteria of mental process:

1) "a mind is an aggregate of interacting parts or components" 2) "The interaction between parts of mind is triggered by differences" 3) "Mental processes require collateral energy" 4) "In mental processes, the effects of difference are to be regarded as transforms (i.e., coded versions) of events which precede them" 5) "mental processes require circular (or more complex) chains of determination" 6) "the description and classification of these processes of transformation disclose a hierarchy of logical types immanent in the phenomena" -from Bateson's "Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity"

The musical system can be thought of as three stations each playing its own "sub"-composition which receives and generates information relevant to the real-time improvisation. No one station has an overall score.

The non-hierarchical structure of the network encourages multiplicity of viewpoints and allows separate parts in the system to function in a variety of musical modes. This means that the moment-to-moment form the music takes is the combined result of the overlapping individual activities of the parts with the coordinating influence of the data exchanged between the computers.

John Bischoff's station directly generates various noises, glissandi and tones through a Digital to Analog converter. It usually makes its decisions (i.e. play/rest, hold/continue, faster/slower, pitch up/down, etc.) by consulting data that encodes aspects of the states of both TP's and JH's stations. TP's computer calculates this information and JH's program signals the moment when it is accessed.

In a context outside of Automatic Music, John's program is duplicated and the input supplied by a performer through two keyboards. It is called "Audio Wave".

Tim Perkis' station can be described as a software implementation of a three dimensional network of virtual machines each of which plays one of nine voices. The state of a machine depends on its past state, the current state of its neighbors and the pitch of the present or last note played by JH's station. The envelope generators can be adjusted so that Tim's program can play in chordal or percussive modes.

His program is an illustration of how coherent activity can result from the intersection of randomness with cooperative structure.

Jim Horton's station plays part of Max Meyer's psychological theory of melody. It uses a 29-tone to the octave justly intoned scale. The program contains a group of (if conditions are met)->(make a change) modules that calculate rhythm, tempo, octave, rest and repetition. The conditions are set by the histories of other modules, the number of rests entered by JB's station, the amount of time since the last change, etc. as well as a random factor.

Jim's station consists of two computers, one of which does these calculations, while the other plays the note or responds to data passed from JB's station by playing a glissando.

"All that is not information, not redundancy, not form and not restraint--is noise the only possible source of new patterns." --Gregory Bateson.

Special thanks to Nick Bertoni, Donald Day, David Doty and Doug Hollis, Friends of the League all, for their kind assistance.


"All that is not information, not redundancy, not form and not restraint--is noise, the only possible source of NEW patterns." Gregory Bateson.

The League presents their music not as entertainment but as an example of how nature operates when we perceive it as cooperative, democratic & musical.

We have constructed a multi-computer based network of non-hierarchical, interactive, simultaneous processes that are open to information from larger environments. As these processes overlap & interact they generate mutual contexts for sonic motions.

Sometimes when the system enters a strong interactive mode, its activities may be heard as if there is a unified mentality improvising or composing. Because the semantics of whether we can ascribe intentional acts to nonliving entities seems to be open, we can choose to consider that we have invented a (partially guided) musical artificial intelligence.

From book: "Big Things from Little Computers" by Dale Peterson. (Prentice-Hall, 1982.) copyright

If you've gotten the impression that computer music requires working long hours in dreadful isolation, writing programs that define every single element of a composition in some fixed, even frozen way, you're wrong.

Take the League of Automatic Music Composers, for instance. The League--John Bischoff, Don Day, Jim Horton, and Tim Perkis is a kind of electronic "New Music" quartet, playing an integrated and largely spontaneous music using four small computers.

Each member of the League has his own personal computer, and each works on individual programmed musical compositions. But the idea of the League is to hook up all four of the computers together, and have musical programs that interact with each other, ultimately producing one whole, harmonious piece of music. The computers they're using happen to be two TRS-80s and two KIMs, along with some special sound generating equipment.

All four composers are currently writing new musical programs for their computers, and I can't say I fully understood the programs they were using the Sunday afternoon I visited them. So rather than try to tell you about what they've actually done in any one concert, I'll tell you in slightly more general terms about what kinds of things they might do in a concert.

First, Jim Horton's computer might be generating a series of tones moving in some randomized progression of pitches and durations. At the same time, Don Day's computer might be waiting for a quiet space in the music, and when it finds one it might pick up on the last note played, and begin to produce an ascending or descending scale from that note.

At the same time, Tim Perkis' computer might be listening to the whole thing, and then, at some opportune time, begin to play a "mimic", a repetition of the sounds, only in a different pitch, or a different tone. And at the same time, John Bischoff's computer might be waiting on the sidelines for the occurrence of two parts of a three-part harmony--when it hears that, it fills in the third part.

And all the while, everyone is listening to the overall integrated production, and perhaps modifying parts of their programs, turning off some segments, changing some. Finally, John has his hands on the only overall "control" of the system: the "mixer" board, with which he can influence the final volume of any one of the individual programs' outputs.

The result is some wide-ranging, usually very dense, patterned, sophisticated, interesting and "electronic" sound. The performances always have a strong element of spontaneity to them--partly because the programs are complicated, and often contain deliberately randomized elements, partly because the interaction of the computers themselves produces a certain spontaneity, and partly because all the programs can be, are likely to be, modified spontaneously during a performance.

But the final sound has a distinct feeling of integration to it. the sound is definitely not that of four individual composers battling among themselves. As John describes it:

"What we noticed from the very beginning was that when the computers were connected together it sounded very different from pieces just being played simultaneously. If you imagine four pieces of music together at the same time, then coincidental things will happen, and just by listening you make some musical connections. But by actually connecting the computers together, and having them interchange and share and interact on information, there seems to be an added dimension. It's hard to describe, but there seems to be a mindlike quality attached to the thing. All of a sudden, the music seems not only to unify, but it seems to direct itself. It becomes independent, almost, even from us."

from 1/1 The Quarterly Journal of the Just Intonation Network. A Project of Other Music, Inc. Volume 2, Number 2, Spring, 1986. copyright

Horton Hears a Who (le Number Ratio) by Jim Horton. excerpt

Just Intonation, in both its horizontal and vertical manifestations can also be used in situations where the perception of any kind of scale is very difficult. The League of Automatic Music Composers (John Bischoff, Tim Perkis, and I) devised a kind of free atonality that made heavy use of Just Intonation tools.

In a typical setup for a league performance, several microcomputers, each automatically generating its own sound, would be configured in a network. Each machine's program would make decisions as to what to play, based on information received from other machines.

For instance, station B would play a sequence of pitches and glides, based on a complex high-prime number tuning. Station P would track the frequency of that signal, designate it as 1/1, and perform an accompaniment using pitches based on the formula 1/1 * A/B, where A and B are integers between 1 and 16.

P would tell Station H what pitch P was playing, and also retune a synthesizer circuit used by H. H would then use the received information as input to a just, seven-limit melody and counterpoint generating algorithm. The resulting music would form floating and temporary tonal centers, defined by just intervals.

In another experimental composition, stations P and H each generated their own sonic patterns (usually in Just Intonation but sometimes in other microtonal tunings), while station B silently listened. When P's and H's lines conjoined in some specified just interval, B would calculate and play a third tone, to make a chord.

These sporadic interventions had a remarkable tendency to pull the two lines, that were not always well tuned to each other, into a complex but perceptually-unified whole.

These experiments proved to me that Just Intonation and atonality are not counter indicated but can be combined to create a "well-tuned" atonality. p.13,14.

typed by Barb. Golden, Oct. 31 1995.