Nonlinar Music
March 2, 2005 1:50 AM   Subscribe

Nonlinear music: where can I find good examples? I remember the Final Fantasy composer talking about one of the scores for a boss battle that could transition several different ways, for example.

I imagine game soundtracks in general are a good place to find this, but I don't have any console systems and I don't really care about the games, just the music. (For educational purposes; I'm trying to see how it's done so I can, hopefully, do it myself.)
posted by Tlogmer to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some games actually release their soundtracks on cd, but of course, by the time it's put on a cd it's no longer in a nonlinear form...
You might also be able to find some examples by emulating some games, but I've no idea how recent a technique nonlinear music is and current gen consoles aren't really emulable afaik.
posted by juv3nal at 2:33 AM on March 2, 2005

does this count?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:05 AM on March 2, 2005

Have a look at Mozart's Musikalisches Wurfelspiel for a fairly clear demonstration. There's quite a bit on the net on it (including a nice, simple, MIDI implementation) - try Google.
posted by monkey closet at 4:05 AM on March 2, 2005

Well, Todd Rundgren comes to mind. I never heard that album in its interactive form and probably never will, but if you're interested in "How to do it" there's been a lot written about this album that you might find interesting.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:07 AM on March 2, 2005

Also worth checking out some resources on aleatoric music - the term for this style of composition when it became popular with the 20th century avant-garde.
posted by monkey closet at 4:09 AM on March 2, 2005

[alternate Todd Rundgren link since allmusic is not cooperating]
posted by Wolfdog at 4:19 AM on March 2, 2005

Check out Concrete Music, a 30 year "nonlinear" song (composes real-time using a markov chain from priors.) Also, all Commodore 64 songs (SIDtunes) are actually small pieces of executable code instead of a "score." Most didn't take advantage of the processor to compose, but some did.

Your google terms are "algorithmic music" and the process dates to well before the first transistor. There's a lot of it out there, quality and interest varies.
posted by neustile at 4:32 AM on March 2, 2005

IMuse was the music system in old Lucasarts adventure games, and had ways of branching and looping depending on things that happened during gameplay.
posted by zsazsa at 6:46 AM on March 2, 2005

amon tobin mentions this some regarding his experience doing the new splinter cell soundtrack in a recent interview on gamespot
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 8:24 AM on March 2, 2005

Thomas Dolby came up with a system of some sort for doing this in soundtracks for games; you might try looking him up in Keyboard and/or Electronic Musician via the periodical guides at your library.
posted by kindall at 9:12 AM on March 2, 2005

You should check out Longplayer, a music-generating algorithm developed to play for 1000 years.
posted by baphomet at 10:58 AM on March 2, 2005

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