OpenMusic: Commission, development and workshops

BEK 09.05.2013 10.0001.05.2014 10.00


Anders Vinjar – web site

Computer-assisted composition in Open Music

In parallel with the development of digital audio processing, there has been a more general move towards a quantification of musical material. When musical material has been quantified, it may be subject to data processing, and computer-aided composition has become a key field within contemporary music practice. Computational tools offers new ways of developing and manipulating different types of compositional material. The result can be expressed and further developed as music notation, or used as input for further processing with various music and audio softwares.

For many composers OpenMusic is the the preferred tool in computer-aided composition. OpenMusic has been developed over many years at IRCAM, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and is used by composers worldwide. Open Music is a visual programming language for music, built on Common Lisp. This combination provides easy access for anyone working with composition without requiring special skills in programming. At the same time OpenMusic is able to cater for those who will move on and develop custom extensions. OpenMusic is flexible and do not enforce any stylistic constraints. It fascilitates simple note editors as well as advanced solutions based on arbitrary suitable programming paradigms such as artificial intelligence and constraint systems. This flexibility makes the tool usable and scalable, and attractive for beginners as well as advanced users. OpenMusic has strong support for the treatment of traditional musical structures in the form of musical editors and high-level functions for music. As users and different types of needs have emerged, OpenMusic has also been used successfully for a wide variety of material – such as photos, text, choreography, spatialisation and much more.

Commissioned, development and workshops

Anders Vinjar is one of the foremost composers in Norway working on computer-aided composition by means of Open Music. BEK and Anders Vinjar have now joined forces in order to strengthen efforts in this field. With funding from Det norske komponistfond we recently commissioned a new work from Anders. The work will make use of ambisonics coding, shaping and decoding, algorithmic composition, artistic programming and work with 3D sound and spatialization. The commissioned work will be finalised in the spring of 2014, and will then be performed at an Avgarde event.

Anders is also currently working on a Linux port of OpenMusic. This development effort is done in collaboration with BEK and in close contact with Jean Bresson at Ircam.

In autumn 2013 we plan an introductory workshop to OpenMusic at BEK targeting composers and others in the Bergen region (and beyond). Further information on this workshop will come later. In the future we also hope to be able to host a specialist workshop where core users and developers of Open Music can meet and exchange ideas and experiences.

Finally we have set up a new mailing list for Norwegian users of OpenMusic. If you want to join in, please sign up here.


So far BEK has received support for this project from Det norske komponistfond and the Municipality of Bergen. We also cooperate with Avgarde on presenting the commissioned work.