Musical L-systems

Master’s Thesis, Institute of Sonology, 2006

This dissertation presents an extensive framework for designing Lindenmayer systems that generate musical structures. The algorithm is a recursive, biologically inspired string rewriting system in the form of a formal grammar, which can be used in a variety of different fields. The various sub-categories of L-systems are presented, following a review of the musical applications by other researchers. A new model for musical L- systems is shown, based on the author’ s implementation in Max/MSP/Jitter. The focus is on the musical interpretation and mapping of the generated data for electronic music, as well as in expanding the basic model to include various types of control schemata. Some compositional strategies are suggested for generating musical structures from the macro- level to the sample level, supported by a number of audio examples.

Download a pdf here.

Sound examples available upon request.

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. – […]


Read online: