Dan Tepfer – From Bach to Natural Machines, algorithms as the shapers of music

TD Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival

Saturday February 1 @ 4:30pm, Arts Court Theatre

From Bach to Natural Machines, algorithms as the shapers of music

*This event is FREE to the public - General Admission upon availability*

Audiences often think of music as primarily a product of the heart, but pianist / composer / coder Dan Tepfer argues that algorithms — rules that are followed consistently — are just as important. Without constraints underlying creativity, whether they’re conscious or not, music tends to lack the deep structure that makes it timeless. In his newest project, Natural Machines, he’s taken this idea to the limit, programming rules into his computer that enable it to respond in real time to the music he improvises. The computer creates immediate structure around whatever he plays at the Yamaha Disklavier player piano, which in turn guides him to improvise in certain ways, for an unprecedented melding of natural and mechanical processes.

The idea of music living at the intersection of the algorithmic and the spiritual is far from new. It was Pythagoras who first codified the logic behind harmonic consonance. Renaissance composers such as Ockeghem created music that followed strict mathematical procedures. And Bach, whose Goldberg Variations Tepfer has been performing worldwide since the 2011 release of his album Goldberg Variations / Variations, in which he follows each of Bach’s variations with an improvised variation of his own, seemed to gain endless creative results from imposing constraints on himself.

Join Tepfer as he explains the deep connections between the high-tech Natural Machines, the timeless music of Bach, and the algorithms that support it all.

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