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Algorithmic Music

  1. David Cope

Published Online: 16 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470050118.ecse721

Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering

Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering

How to Cite

Cope, D. 2009. Algorithmic Music. Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering. 118–125.

Author Information

  1. University of California, Santa Cruz, California

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 16 MAR 2009


Music algorithms are used in many ways, such as composition, analysis, performance, notation, and so on, wherever benefits result from applying a series of explicit instructions. Of these possibilities, the use of the term algorithmic music usually applies to algorithms used for composing and analyzing music. Composing algorithms have existed for centuries without the aid of computers. With the advent of computers, however, speed and accuracy have allowed composers the ability to accomplish feats they could only dream of in previous times. Algorithmic music analysis indicates many properties of music that intuitive analysis cannot reveal. As with algorithmic music composition, the advent of computers has driven music analysts to restudy music of all periods, a study that is still undergoing intense new scrutiny. Thus, algorithmic music composition and analysis share important distinctions that this article will define and address.


  • Alan Turing;
  • stochastic music;
  • musikalisches Würfelspiel;
  • music and ptolemy;
  • Anton von Webern;
  • Pierre Boulez;
  • John Cage;
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen;
  • Steve Reich