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Between the Lines

This piece is based on a machine learning system developed in collaboration with Dr. Bob Sturm (folk-rnn). This is a recurrent neural network that crafts melodies: we first trained the system on 23,000+ melodic transcriptions of traditional music primarily from Ireland and the UK. To compose this piece we added a second stage where we focused its training on melodies extracted from over 350 English Renaissance vocal pieces of Tallis and his contemporaries. Training the system in this manner makes it learn first about the music representation, and then about melodies typical of English vocal Renaissance music. To compose this piece, I prompted the system with opening notes from Tallis' "Miserere nostri" yielding continuations of those opening notes. From among the many melodies generated I selected four and combined those into the four-part phrase played, in different versions, by the flute, clarinet, violin and cello. The piano part also relates to the same opening motif from Tallis but the part provides a type of commentary on the repeated phrase.

Between the Lines was premiered by The New Music Players at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, February 8th 2018.

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