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Hyperscore

Hyperscore is a graphical computer-assisted composition system intended for users of all musical backgrounds. It presents a unique interface that takes input in the form of freehand drawing. The strokes in the drawing are mapped to structural and gestural elements in music, allowing the user to describe compositions visually.

Innovation
Hyperscore was written in C++ with DirectX for Windows. The key innovative feature is the way Hyperscore facilitates composition through intelligent mapping of musical features to graphical abstractions. It provides a formalized structure that addresses the questions:
  • What makes something inherently musical?
  • How can these qualities be visually represented?
  • What are the best one-to-one mappings from graphical controls to these parameters?
The Hyperscore interface is radically different from previous graphical composition systems. It avoids being reduced to a mere sequencer and provides a visual metaphor for what is happening structurally in the music as opposed to displaying musical events in functional block notation. The intelligence behind the program provides a novel way to interpret harmonic changes, and the fundamental construction of the interface presents an innovative way to treat musical material as fundamentally contrapuntal.

Vision
Aside from being entertaining, the educational possibilities for Hyperscore are endless. It was developed in conjunction with a larger project, directed by Tod Machover, called Toy Symphony. The goal of Toy Symphony is to introduce children to creative music-making through the use of specially designed hardware and software. With this technology, children can engage in creative music activities normally accessible only after years of study. As part of Toy Symphony, Hyperscore has been used by children in a series of workshops in Europe to compose pieces for string orchestra.
Examples of the children's work

Hyperscore community (executable and compositions)
Goal
The ultimate goal of Hyperscore is to provide an intuitive, interactive graphical environment for creating and editing compositions. This entails combining a thorough knowledge of how music works, theoretically and cognitively, with a well-designed interface that facilitates creative musical activities that would otherwise take years of training and experience on the user's part. As proof of concept, the current working version was designed for a more specific purpose: to allow musically untrained users (children in particular) to compose pieces of music for a live string ensemble.

Contact
Mary Farbood
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Contributor
Egon Pasztor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology




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