Markov Chains in Music Composition

Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations


Project Advisor 1

Steven Simon

Abstract/Artist's Statement

It is often said that music and mathematics go hand in hand. As an undergraduate double major in both, I thought that a project combining the two subjects would be a good reflection of who I am.

This paper discusses Markov Chains in the context of music composition. Markov Chains are models of processes whose state evolves randomly in which the future evolution solely depends on the present state. Probability characterizing these processes can be useful in both the analysis of pieces and the creation of pieces. For the former topic, I propose to determine a concrete mathematical definition of memory, an abstract musical concept, and I use this definition to analyze pieces by J.S. Bach. For the latter, I explore a way to produce sequences of notes generated by Markov Chains conditioned to satisfy constraints, such as requirements to contain specific desired groups of intervals and motifs.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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