The long, dark teatime of the MIDI

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Posted by Jeremy Dimmick on May 13, 2001 at 18:54:57:

I hope under the circumstances that you'll forgive this somewhat OT post. Douglas Adams (1952-2001) must have been one of very few men of genius to have fused MIDI and literature.


Because he was too tired to think particularly constructively tonight he savagely selected and copied a whole swathe of figures from the spreadsheet at random, pasted them into his own conversion program, which scaled and filtered and manipulated the figures according to his own experimental algorithms, loaded the converted file into Performer, a powerful sequencer program, and played the result through random MIDI channels to whichever synthesizers happened to be on at the moment.

The result was a short burst of the most hideous cacophony, and he stopped it.

He ran the conversion program again, this time instructing it to force-map the pitch values into G minor. This was a utility he was determined in the end to get rid of because he regarded it as cheating. If there was any basis to his firmly held belief that the rhythms and harmonies of music which he found most satisfying could be found in, or at least derived from, the rhythms and harmonies of naturally occurring phenomena, then satisfying forms of modality and intonation should emerge naturally as well, rather than being forced.

For the moment, though, he forced it.

The result was a short burst of the most hideous cacophony in G minor.


from Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987).
So long, and thanks.

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