Genetic Algorithms use an evolutionary metaphor to explore spaces. This work in progress uses a modified genetic algorithm to evolve waveforms. A population of waveforms exists in multiple locations (one for each speaker) and individual waveforms can freely migrate between locations. As in nature, the environment of a particular location can change over time. This can happen quickly (as in a fire) or slowly (as in an ice age). Waveforms sexually reproduce and undergo mutations. Their probability of reproducing is related to how fit they are in their current environment. An individual that is quite fit in one environment may be unfit in a new environment and its genes (in this case, the distinctive sounds that characterize its waveform) may be removed from the species entirely. Other sounds that were unfit may come to the forefront as the environment changes. This process of evolution in a changing environment creates the structure of the piece.
Cristyn Magnus began composing while pursuing her bachelor's degree in Cognitive Science. She is currently a graduate student in computer music at UCSD and a researcher at the Center for Research in Computing in the Arts. Her recent work investigates the use of genetic algorithms as a method for manipulating waveforms for a series of tape pieces dealing with issues of deriving form from process. Her performance pieces and compositions for multi-channel tape, acoustic instruments and acoustic instruments with interactive electronics have been performed at concerts and festivals at UCSD, the University of Minnesota, California Institute of the Arts and Stanford University.
“Powering Up/Powering Down” is sponsored in part by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), and the UC San Diego Department of Music in connection with the departments of Visual Arts, Music, and Literature at UCSD along with the UC Riverside and Los Angeles campuses.