Category Archives: Music

Everything musical

Generative Deep Learning and Bach, a Good Fit?

If you’re like me, you know that there’s never “enough Bach” in one’s life and you can always tap into infinite musical curiosities based on Bach. Using Artificial Intelligence methods such as deep learning to “train” computers for music composition is one of the fascinating recent trends in this area, and applying these automated, statistical methods to Bach chorales is an active topic of research with interesting results. The book by David Foster, “Generative Deep Learning – Teaching Machines to Paint, Write, Compose, and Play“, has a chapter dedicated to using generative deep learning methods such as MuseGAN for music composition, and explains how such “generative” models can be trained on Bach’s real polyphonic compositions to output new musical pieces in the style of Bach.

Below is an original piece created by the Generative Adversarial Deep Learning Network (GAN, in particular the famous MuseGAN network architecture). The MuseGAN deep learning network system was able to create this after training for only 1000 epochs on a moderate laptop for 2 hours (without using GPUs), based on the data set at (a set of 229 Bach chorales). In other words, this is definitely not representative of what Deep Learning can achieve as best because such a system can be easily trained for longer on much more powerful systems (see further examples below). The focus of these examples is the fact that you can also start to experiment with deep learning systems that start to model musical aspects without explicit musical teaching, hard-encoded rules in software, etc.

You can click on the image below to visit SoundCloud and listen to MP3 file generated by MuseScore.

Example created by the GAN by randomly applying nornally distributed noise vectors - Click to listen on SoundCloud

Example created by MuseGAN by randomly applying normally distributed noise vectors – Click to listen on SoundCloud

Among the actual Bach chorales in the data set, the “closest” one to the artificially generated example (“close” in the sense of Euclidean distance) can be seen below. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 17, 2019 in Math, Music, Programlama


Tags: , , , , , ,

İki Opera Salonu Hikayesi: Belçika ve Türkiye

Yedi yaşındaki oğlum bugün sınıf arkadaşları ve öğretmenleri ile Anvers’teki opera binasını ziyaret edecek, perde arkasını görecek ve orada çalışanlarla konuşacak. Sabah onu okula bırakırken müzik ve bugün yapacakları hakkında konuştuk biraz. Onu okuluna bıraktıktan sonra ister istemez bazı hatıralar canlandı gözümde, aynı zamanda 2018 itibariyle yaşadığım sert gerçeklik aklıma geldi.

İstanbul’da büyüdüm, dünyanın en eski şehirlerinden birinde; tarihi, kültürel ve arkeolojik açıdan muazzam zengin bir mirasın içinde. İstanbul’da operaya ve baleye gitmeye başladım arkadaşlarımla, önce lise, sonra da üniversite öğrencisi olarak. 1990larda ve 2000lerin başında çoğu zaman opera bileti sinema biletinden ucuzdu. Bazı okurların iyi bildiği gibi gittiğim yer Atatürk Kültür Merkezi idi. Kolektif hafızamızın önemli bir parçası idi. Uzun zamandır ne halde olduğunu bilmiyordum ve öğrendim ki 2018 itibariyle aşağıdaki gibi görünüyor. İşte biz, kolektif hafızaya böyle davranırız:

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 8, 2018 in Music


Tags: ,

A Tale of Two Opera Houses: Belgium and Turkey

My 7 seven year old son will visit the opera house in Antwerp today, together with his classmates and teachers as part of his school activities. We talked about music and today’s activity as I was driving him to the school this morning. This took me to a trip down the memory lane, and back to the harsh realities of the world I live in 2018.

I grew up in Istanbul, one of the oldest cities in the world with a very rich and complex historical, cultural, and archeological heritage. In my city, I used to go to opera and ballet as a high school, and then a university student. In fact, opera tickets were generally cheaper than cinema tickets, back in the 1990s and beginning of 2000s. The opera house was named “Atatürk Cultural Center”. It was an important part of our collective memory. It’s been demolished recently and this is how it looks as of 2018. This is how collective memory is treated: Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 8, 2018 in Music


Tags: ,

Qualia: a unique musical experience from Gökhan Goralı

Imagine that you grew up in a very constrained and controlled laboratory environment. Imagine that your expert science professors taught you everything that can be known about mathematics and physics of sound waves that travel by air pressure, or through other material; you know all about frequencies, their relationships, properties of various materials, and can easily derive new theorems from what you already know. Now, I know it will be very difficult, but try to imagine that you also never heard any music, any musical instrument at all. Imagine all you heard was human language conversation (no singing or humming at all), and natural sounds such as a knock on the door, or some truck engine making a noise, but nothing else. No music.

And now, imagine that for the first time in your life, you hear sounds coming from “Qualia” by Gökhan Goralı. Surely there will be some radical changes in your brain, in your neural circuitry. But will you have gained “new knowledge”? Didn’t you already know all about the math and physics of sound, the relationship between frequencies, how some of them are called ‘musical notes’? The musical album at hand is a digital one, so it would be straightforward to describe all mathematical and physical aspects of bits in those MP3 files, frequencies and their durations, etc. When you hear music for the first time, when you year “Qualia” for the first time, what is that you learn for the first time? What does it mean to say that the extra experience you have is ‘qualia‘?

What is that elusive state of mind? Do two people who listen to the same “Qualia” have the same state of neural configuration? Is it comparable, or is ‘qualia’ simply what is beyond comparison? There are no easy answers, there are only difficult questions.

In other words, there is only one long journey, the biggest experiment of all, going for millions of years. And this brand new album is an experiment within the grand experiment. With its recursive loops, Pure Data patches, soundscapes, guitars, bass lines and drums… with the dedication of countless hours by spirits in pursuit of the unknown, Qualia leads to many states of mind. Originating from one of the most ancient cities in the world, it might remind you of a historical future in which you might start to remember things you never knew. It deserves listening and re-listening, going deeper in every iteration, and maybe coming up with a different experience each time.

It is difficult to do justice to “Qualia” in a few primitive sentences, after all, the title itself hints at the phenomenon of going beyond a reductionist approach. If you believe there’s something special to being a human, then you owe yourself to listen to this great album.

Another nice thing, external to this album, is the fact that whatever you pay for it will go to the World Bicycle Relief & Eşpedal, so that this great artistic experience will change not only your state of mind, but also the life of a person, and in a very positive way.

If you are curious about the background to this album, you can read an interview here in Turkish (or an automatic English translation), and maybe watch Ex Machina. Do you think a robot, an Artificial General Intelligence, would experience this album the same way a human would do? Think about this as you listen to the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ tunes of “Qualia”.



Leave a comment

Posted by on September 10, 2017 in Music


From zero to sound in no time: Making Musical Apps – Real-time audio synthesis on Android and iOS

Making Musical Apps Real-time audio synthesis on Android and iOS

Making Musical Apps Real-time audio synthesis on Android and iOS

Making Musical Apps – Real-time audio synthesis on Android and iOS” couldn’t be more timely: I have started to play with Pd (Pure Data) recently and was wondering whether I could transfer my knowledge of Pd to other environments, such as my Android-powered smartphone. Written by Peter Brinkmann, the creator of the fantastic libpd library, this is the definitive introduction. For me it served not only as a guide to Pd on Android but also as a basic tutorial for development in Android (the book also includes a very short primer for Pd for beginners). Before this book I had not created any Android app at all and with the help of the book I found myself compiling and running sample music and sound apps on my Android phone in a few hours. What else can one ask for? More Pd and libpd knowledge would definitely not hurt but it would probably book to at least 300 – 400 pages. Besides, there are excellent and freely available resources for designing sound systems using Pd, and the book provides pointers to them.

In other words, if you want to build Pd powered applications using libpd for iPhone, iPad or Android phones and tablets, and are in need of a very quick guide to get you up to speed, then look no further. But also keep in mind that Pd system is a very sophisticated sound processing environment which requires dedication to master all of its aspects and details. Nevertheless, once you interactively design your sound application on the desktop, this book includes the necessary material to port your application to other devices. And for the impatient hackers out there, it also includes detailed explanations of RjDj (iOS) and ScenePlayer (Android) systems (and PdDroidParty and HTML based pd-webkit-droid) which help you run your Pd patches on respective devices without writing a single line of Objective C or Java code.

In addition to the sample apps that come with libpd (freely available from its GitHub repository), you can also get the source code of the sample applications and Pd patches described in the book from (which can serve as a solid starting point for your future projects). And if you ever need some technical help after debugging your libpd based app, be assured that the forum at is very responsive.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Music, Programlama


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Parazar: An unexpected discovery of a musical gem

A few days ago I was at the graduation ceremony of my beloved one. I have to admit that I was a little bit afraid of getting bored there. But an unexpected musical surprise that the graduation committee prepared for the audience proved to be much more than enough to elevate our excitement and joy. The name of the group who played was Parazar.



Their repertoire ranged from old Dutch folk songs to Renaissance rearrangements, from film music (such as the theme from Fellini’s Amarcord) to Klezmer, from Portugese fado to their own compositions. It was sheer pleasure to listen to all of the three virtuoso players: Annemarie Peeters, Stefan Coltura and Remi Peeters.

It is possible to listen to some of their repertoire online but I think that is being very unfair to their live performance, something to be experienced at that very moment instead of being recorded. I consider myself lucky to have shared the magic and I’m thankful to my beloved one for leading me to such a great evening.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2011 in Music


The Use of Applied Mathematics in Music to Produce Spontaneous Change

It is great to hear that Aykut Çağlayan completed his Ph.D. thesis on algorithmic music composition:

In the course of western classical music, algorithmic procedures have been integral to composition techniques . After the computer revolution, those procedures became prevalent and deepened among composers. Accordingly, the use of computer and its fast computational power opened new dimensions in the research of dynamical systems and modelling self-organisation in the nature. The reason for mentioning artistic and scientific methods side by side is that i think that there is a direct relationship between aesthetical and epistemological fields and the mimetic attribute of art came to prominence in this dissertation. In that sense, the mathematical models of the natural self-organisation; Cellular Automata and random Boolean networks and Markov chains are surveyed in this dissertation. And new techniques by using those systems to produce music and sound have been developed. Cellular Automata and random Boolean networks depends on the interactions of cells, which constitutes the system and are capable of emergent behaviour. Even these systems are deterministic, they are not predictable. The micro interactions produce complex structures in the macro level. The coherent and synchronous evolution of plural constituents are very fruitful in algorithmic composition. Yet, the basic two concepts regarding musical aesthetics are intrinsic to that systems: coherence and variation/evolution. Nevertheless, the mentioned systems are presented in limited time/space dimensions. Henceforth the problem of this dissertation is, transposing the mathematical idealizations into musical time in a natural way rather than mechanical time steps. The last parts of chapters (2nd, 3th and 4th) include my original approach to this problem. My approaches are flexible interpretations of Cellular Automata generations, the interpolation between two Markov tables (melodic morphing), assigning each cells to a function, which has a memory and recursive. The use of random Boolean networks in algorithmic composition literatur have not been available until this dissertation. Non-local interactions between the elements of RBN is very inspiring for algorithmic composition. The prominent quality in my approach is assigning each cell to a function. The codes and the resulting scores are given within the text and the sound examples are attached to text within a CD.

You can read his thesis at, download his CD from, and leave your comments at his blog:

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 9, 2010 in Lisp, Math, Music, Programlama, Science