Preview of “The Humours of Time Pigeon”

The upcoming concert will see many new works, all of which have been composed by or co-composed with “musically intelligent” computers — whatever that means! One of these works is “The Humours of Time Pigeon”. Like “Chicken Bits and Bits and Bobs“, material for this piece comes from the 72,376 transcriptions generated by the first version of folk-rnn in 2015. Here’s the verbatim output of the system:

T: Humours Of Time Pigeon, The
M: 3/2
L: 1/8
K: Dmaj
|:"D"D4 F4 "A"E2 DE|"D"F2 AA A2 FD "Em"E4|"D"d4 D4 F2 A2|"G"cded BA F2 E4:|
|:"D"f2 de "D"fdgf "A"e2 g2|"A7"fede "D"defg "A"a4|"Em"bgeg "D"fdef|"G"BBGB "A7"A2 A2|"Bm"ecde "D"f2 ed|"A"cBAB "A7"cdef|"A7"gfef "G"gfge|"A"eBcA "Em"B4:|
|:"D"fedf "D"f2e2|"D"agfe "D"d2 d2|"A"cedc "D"BAFA|"D7"ABAG FDDC|
"D"FEDF A2 A2|"D"BcdB "A"A2Ac|"G"BGBd "A"cdec|1"D"d2f2d2 d2:|2"D"d4 "D"d4|]

We can see some problems more clearly when we notate it:


The transcription specifies a 3/2 meter, but it begins in 3/4. After two measures of the second phrase, it goes to 2/4 and stays there. Aside from the errors in counting, the tune does not look or sound like much of the training data. There are some good qualities though. For instance, it stays in D. It ends with a IV – V – I resolution. And THE TITLE.

I have actually worked with this transcription before. It appears without change in my composition, “Eight short outputs generated by a long short-term memory network with three fully connected hidden layers of 512 units each trained on over 23,000 ABC transcriptions of session music (Irish, English, etc.), and arranged by my own “personal” neural network trained on who knows what for who knows how long (I can’t remember any of the settings) (2015)“. The video below should start right on the piece.

I decided to revisit this transcription to compose a final movement after the March to the Mainframe and Interlude. I take more liberty with the material here than in Eight Short Outputs. I play with time throughout the piece, and try to bring alive the subject matter inspired by the title. The part with which I am especially happy is the ending. I have the instruments revisit material in a staggered fashion to animate the little Time Pigeon meeting itself coming and going in time.

Here is a synthesised version of “The Humours of Time Pigeon”. (It is MIDI, rendered by Sibelius, so has limited musical quality — especially with the slides in the violin; but it gives a good idea.)

Here is the score of all three movements.

Thanks folk-rnn!


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