Fractal Music vs Fractal Inspired, Musical Sound

In Lecture we made a the distinction clear between fractal art and fractal inspired, musical sound, when we checked out this sweet fractal animation video with a fractal inspired jazz ballad accompaniment:

I wasn’t happy with just hearing fractal inspired sound, I wanted to hear some fractals, the real deal, so I dug around in this website to find some results! I figured any fractal music would be pretty recent and computer generated, because of the computing involved in making a lot of the fractal images you see today, but it turns out a sort of fractal music has been around for at least six centuries.

Below is an excerpt from a three-part mensuration canon by Josquin.  Taking the top voice as a reference, the middle voice progresses one third as fast.  The bottom voice moves twice as fast as the middle voice, or two thirds the speed of the top voice.

This idea is called motivic scaling, where the same motif was played at different tempos simultaneously by different voices. Not all mensuration canons are fractal, but this example is. It’s worth a listen, too:

This website has several examples if you scroll down with MIDI files and explanations of different ways fractals have been implemented in the composition, such as scaling the duration, pitch, intervals, motifs (see Josquin piece above), and structural scaling.

Here is an example of interval scaling for a more contemporary example, explanation follows:

Have fun clicking the earlier linked website to hear more cool examples of fractal music.

-Ben Breidenthal


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