Compose Like Bach (with Help from This App)

 

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To fully grasp the musical feat of artist Alexander Randon’s new app for iPad FUGUE MACHINE requires a brief understanding of the mechanics of music and a basic understanding of music history.

So, here goes: composer Johann Sebastian Bach popularized a composition style known as the fugue—characterized by complex, beautiful music realized by applying mathematical operations to melodies. While this app won’t compose a fugue for you, it does expose composition techniques used in fugues so you can experiment and create your own.

In plain English: this app lets you manipulate and change the direction, speed, and tone of a melody you create, as well as play multiple variations of the melody simultaneously.

Alexander Randon explains to The Creators Project, “I realized I could implement this concept by reimagining the piano roll, a fundamental building block in most music software.” If you’re scratching your head trying to make heads or tales of a piano roll, just think back (way back) to when pianos had perforated paper that went through the piano so it looked like they were playing by themselves. Now, imagine that system were digitalized and able to move in multiple directions and speeds at the same time, and you have FUGUE MACHINE.

While it is designed for professionals, it is accessible to anyone. The initial concept was born out of the Gray Area Foundation For the Arts Cultural Incubator in San Francisco. The program is a six-month commitment to develop a project that applies art and technology for social and civic impact. Creative individuals and teams—from a wide array of disciplines—develop, make, and showcase projects together from the historic Grand Theater.

“We’re trying to help people make careers out of this field,” Josette Melchor, the founder, shares their model for arts education and incubation which helps artists learn the skills and make the connections needed to support their vision and livelihood. FUGUE MACHINE is the first product to come out of the program.

Download FUGUE MACHINE, check out the first musical app that Randon created here, and see more of his work on his website.

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