[r-t] New plan

Alexander Holroyd holroyd at math.ubc.ca
Tue Dec 29 00:32:12 UTC 2009

I wholehartedly agree with everything Mark says here.  Two little things 
to add:

- re 2, to my taste at least, _completely_ mixing up all the types of 
music might also be a bad thing.  It's nice when you have a block that 
concentrates on one type of music for a while (perhaps with pthers thrown 
in) - the band notices it more, and get to repeatedly practice striking 
that type of run/whatever.  As in any type of music, or art for that 
matter, you want the right mix of predictability and unpredictability.

One thing I was wondering was: in some domain where a complete search is 
possible, formulate some precise score function based on 1 & 2, and just 
try maximising that...

On Sun, 27 Dec 2009, Mark Davies wrote:

> Ander writes,
>> Is it time to consider establishing some standard metrics for
>> music distribution?
>> Has anyone tried computer searches for the best composition
>> according to "distributional" criteria?
> This is a good idea. Most of my recent compositional effort has been focused 
> on exactly this: getting the music nicely distributed throughout the peal. It 
> seems to me there are three main things you want:
> 1. To avoid long "bad patches". Even if your peal contains a lot of music, it 
> can be spoiled if this is concentrated in one part, with swathes of rubbish 
> elsewhere. Music should be distributed throughout the composition. The "no 
> duffers" concept is the beginnings of a way to measure this, but as Ander 
> implies is not sufficient.
> 2. To mix different music types. Finishing with three Homes is dull, because 
> the music is too samey; similarly, I don't much like cyclic compositions 
> where the same cyclic runs appear in each part. Much better to have different 
> types of music continually mixed up throughout the composition. This is 
> harder to measure by machine.
> 3. The right music at the right time. I'm a firm believer that peals should 
> be paced nicely, with music placed where it will be appreciated most. 
> Stabilising courses at the beginning are good - surely only a computer would 
> put the one tenors-split course in a peal at the start. Conversely, I 
> sometimes like to put the plain course in the middle of a peal. It's usually 
> the most musical course - put it somewhere where the ringing is likely to be 
> at its best. Structural concerns come in here, too; for instance, I think it 
> is lovely when the first part of a peal presages some music, which will 
> return in a later part in a different variation, or extended to greater 
> heights. That sort of thing is, to me, the hallmark of a truly exceptional 
> peal.
> There is no metric which can encapsulate the third rule, which is why I think 
> the eye of a human composer is so important. But that's not to say we 
> oughtn't to put some effort in to measure rules 1 and maybe 2.
> The way I currently work, to try and produce compositions which follow these 
> rules, is something like this:
> a) I'll start on paper, looking for short blocks which pack in the music I 
> like. I might use the computer to help generate these blocks, too, but it's 
> very much a manual assessment process: have I got the beginnings of the music 
> I want, threaded together in an efficient way.
> b) Next I'll try to link the blocks up, directly into a peal length if I can; 
> into large blocks if a more complex, staged approach is required. 
> Machine-linking of blocks is good, and will highlight the best ways of 
> linking them in terms of absolute music counts.
> c) But, absolutely music counts are no use on their own. Many of the 
> machine-generated linkages will be sub-optimal with respect to the Rules 
> above. So lots of hand-sifting goes on here, to identify the compositions 
> that have the best mix and positioning of musical sections.
> d) Often a given set of blocks cannot be linked nicely, so at any point I 
> might need to head back to the drawing board (stage a) to look for other 
> possibilities.
> e) Finally, when publishing the finished composition(s), I will try and 
> describe in words what I feel I have achieved. There aren't currently any 
> good ways of measuring rules 2 and 3, so a description of how closely I've 
> matched them is the best I can do.
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