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Zöe Tucker

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Emergence and Complexity in Music

Michael E. Orrison
Second Reader(s)
Bill Alves (HSA)


How can we apply mathematical notions of complexity and emergence to music, and how can these mathematical ideas then inspire new musical works? Using Steve Reich's Clapping Music as a starting point, we look for emergent patterns in music by considering cases where a piece's complexity is significantly different from the total complexity of each of the individual parts. Definitions of complexity inspired by information theory, data compression, and musical practice are considered. We also consider the number of distinct musical pieces that could be composed in the same manner as Clapping Music. Finally, we present a new musical compositions to demonstrate some of these ideas.

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