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I was presenting a class today on ancient indigenous European-fringe music, to a class of high-school students, and we discussed a little the difference between a so-called modal ancient oral tradition music and the 12 tone key based modulating system we are familiar with from common-practice and classical
music which pervades all nowadays.
I propose some kind of algorithm be developed to map the rythmic and pitch categories of one kind of music onto another.
This could then run real-time via midi to translate compositions or improvisations on the fly.
So, a Beethoven symphony could be automatically boiled down into a Muslim call to prayer, and vice-versa. An Indian raga could morph into a piobaireachd. A free jazz wankfest could be mapped in real time onto a Broadway musical chorus. A microtonal Arabic maqam riff could translate onto an army bugle call.
Everyone would have lots of fun, and would also learn about what makes different musical languages distinctive and different from each other.
*note: This idea is only concerned with rythym and pitch, and would output midi data. I appreciate that timbre, expression and other aspects are beyond the capability of such a simple algorithm.
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||I think we should use a slight variation on that to translate freely between Seagull and Shark, so when there's a shark around the seagulls hover over it taunting it, and the shark jumps out of the water, pissed off, trying to eat the seagulls.
||this would be very hard, but is worth thinking about. (+)
||I'm not quite sure what level of translation you have in mind. I have experience with the pitch mapping side of this, and it can range from almost trivial to almost impossible, depending on what you want to achieve and how compatible the intonation systems are.
||For example, even within European music, some styles don't really use a fixed set of pitches (a scale) at all, so there is no simple mapping available.
||//easy// Again, it depends what you are trying to do. At its most simple, this is like transliterating a Russian novel from Cyrillic to Latin characters. At its most difficult, it's like taking a Dostoyevsky novel and 'translating' it into something that someone might mistake for Dickens.