Growing Musical Forms With L-systems: Interpretations, Sound Synthesis and Control Schemata

2007 – available upon request

This paper introduces Lindenmayer systems (or L-systems in short) as an algorithmic method for designing emergent musical structures in all the time-levels of a composition, from macroforms to waveforms. The algorithm, a formalism related to abstract automata, fractals and formal grammars, consists of different sets of rules used to recursively transform and interpret symbol strings. The model described here can generate multiple networks of musical agents, each capable of performing any musical task supported by the implementing software. These agents move in a hierarchic parameter space while acting upon the compositional environment and interacting with each other. Most weight is given to the implementation of the model and its possible interpretations, with a special focus on the methods for generating waveforms. Extensions of the model are discussed, such as incorporating genetic algorithms, designing hierarchical L-systems and L-system networks and opening the system to real-time interaction.

Visit the pages below to listen to Musical L-Systems works:

Undercover Harpsichord Agents Terrorize the Court

An electroacoustic tape piece, whose sound material consists of transformations of harpsichord recordings performed by the composer. This material is processed using a complex hierarchical network of Lindenmayer Systems and Genetic Algorithms – an algorithmic model of organic growth.


Do Digital Monkeys Inhabit Virtual Trees?

for L-system Digital Sound Synthesis – “The development of an organism may […] be considered as the execution of a ‘developmental program’ present in the fertilised egg.” (Lindenmayer A. – […]