Talea is a musical pattern generator utilising a radial graphical system whose process engine is a simple evolving Cellular Automaton. According to its author, Alessandro Capozzo, the title of the work concerns the isorythmic composition practice in renaissance music and so this points to a fascinating confluence of techne both very old and very new. ‘Isorhythm (from the Greek for “the same rhythm”) is a musical technique that arranges a fixed pattern of pitches with a repeating rhythmic pattern’
On listening to the audio extract of a real-time performance of Talea its possible to hear echoes of the Systems Music aesthetic, a minimalist ‘note to note’ procedural composition technique defined numerically and permutationally. Talea, however, seems to rely more specifically on an emergent growth structure, possibly due to its use of Cellular Automata governing rule sets rather than a fixed system.
Talea uses Tactu5, an alpha version processing library made for the purpose of creating algorithmic music. Rather than incorporating a synthesis system of its own, it is designed to be used with existing sound synthesis programs such as Csound, Puredata and SuperCollider via network communication. The download page contains examples and ‘work in progress’ tutorials and online references.
Much algorithmic music often forsakes aesthetics for process resulting in fairly unlistenable music. The success of algorithmic procedures really depends on the mapping system employed by the composer to translate the non-musical information into a musical syntax. From this point of view, Talea seems to be a successful step in the right direction for producing computationally driven compositions that have feeling and are ‘musical’.