How can a computer help a person compose music, especially if the person has no prior musical training? This problem can be viewed from different perspectives—from developing the musical algorithms that the computer uses to automate the compositional process to designing the right interface for humans to interact with the machine. Hyperscore is a software tool that attempts to address both of these questions. It is a graphical composition environment that interprets the gestures of the strokes and lines the user draws in an intuitive way. The user can pen musical ideas, store them for later use, and create new pieces—all in one expansive canvas. The graphical elements in the drawing are mapped to musical structures, allowing the user to interweave and shape musical voices and define harmonic progressions visually. Hyperscore is a central element in workshops and live performances for the City Symphony projects.
The single coolest thing to happen to music ever. – Thomas O’Hara, 12, of West Genesee Middle School
Hyperscore is an application to introduce children and non-musicians to musical composition and creativity in an intuitive and dynamic way. The "narrative" of a composition is expressed as a line-gesture, and the texture and shape of this line are analyzed to derive a pattern of tension-release, simplicity-complexity, and variable harmonization. The child creates or selects individual musical fragments in the form of chords or melodic motives, and layers them onto the narrative-line with expressive brushstrokes. The Hyperscore system automatically realizes a full composition from a graphical representation. Currently, Hyperscore uses a mouse-based interface; the final version will support freehand drawing, and integration with the Music Shapers and Beatbugs to provide a rich array of tactile tools for manipulation of the graphical score.