Chennai Mathematical Institute


3.30 p.m.
Synthesising Music on the Computer - special challenges for Karnatic music

M. Subramanian



The Computer can be used for recording music in digital form and replaying it, process and modify recorded music or generate music synthetically from bare data like scores or notes. The current topic is only on synthesizing music from data. The MIDI protocol (developed even before computers) is the most common format of storing data for generating computer music. Unlike a digitised recording of music a MIDI file (.mid) has only data such as notes, durations, loudness, quality etc. and .mid files are considerably smaller than digitised .wav files. The MIDI system, having been developed for Western Music is primarily meant for polyphony with straight and discrete notes (though limited continuity can be achieved). The problem of using this concept or similar concepts for synthesizing Karnatic Music will be discussed. Karnatic music requires continuity of intonation over many notes linked as phrases. The basic problem of large variation between written Karnatic music notation and the actual performance as well as the liberty to extemporize - both for the melody and the rhythmic accompaniment will also be discussed with suggestions on approaches to solutions, mentioning the limited progress made in the software Gaayaka.

Mr.M. Subramanian, has his Research Degree (M.Sc.) in Chemistry. He retired as the Post Master General of the Government of India. A Musician, having learnt Veena playing under Dr. S. Ramanathan, Sri A. Muthiah and Thiruvananthapuram Sri R. Venkataraman, he became interested in musicology and developed carnatic music appreciation (Rasika) and composing (Gaayaka) softwares ( and is doing research on synthesising music using computers.