ArpEgg: a Rewriting Grammar for Complex Arpeggios. Arpeggiators are hardware or software devices for producing a series of musical notes from an input chord. They are used extensively in many forms of music, in particular electronic dance music. As such, they are probably one of the most prevalent forms of generative art in our popular culture. Yet the vast majority of arpeggiators encode a relatively small and simple set of algorithms for note generation, and thus have fairly predictable results. For the artist, this limited palette of algorithms can be creatively constraining. In an attempt to solve this, most arpeggiators have a “random” setting. While this produces more complex results, the experience for the musician is extremely hit-and-miss, forgoing any form of control over the process itself. The artist must rely on luck that a random sequence will be suitable. Neither extreme is very satisfactory. Surely there must exist points in between, where the musician has both expressive power and rich results? We introduce ArpEgg, a software arpeggio authoring system based on a modified LSystem grammar. ArpEgg uses small sets of rewriting rules to transform input chords into complex, evolving streams of notes. We show how typical arpeggiation patterns can be expressed in ArpEgg, and how simple ArpEgg grammars can generate complex patterns. ArpEgg represents one attempt at exploring this middle ground of complexity with control.
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