teaching machines

Terra’s Theme

I’m not exactly sure what Deltaphone is for, but this afternoon, it was for analyzing the structure of Terra’s Theme from Final Fantasy VI. (Thanks to 8-bit of 8-bit Music Theory, who did all the work.) The melodic line consists of a phrase repeated three times, and this phrase is expressed in the prefix function […]

VOICES 2019: Learning Music Theory through Code with Deltaphone

Follow is a draft of my talk for VOICES 2019, a virtual conference on the use of music in STEM learning. This is the first virtual conference I have attended. No flight, no badge, no bag of unwanted promotional materials. Just people talking about music and learning from the comfort of their homes and offices. […]

Triadic Chords in Deltaphone

When non-pianists approach a piano, they will strike random keys—but often just one key at a time. If they play more than one, the sound is likely to be unpleasant. But that’s only because they don’t know which keys to strike at the same time. Let’s work out in Deltaphone a system of notes that […]

Interaction in Deltaphone

One of the many superpowers of a musician is the ability to hear intervals. This is not a superpower I possess. Can it be learned? While I’ve been working on Deltaphone, a friend mentioned that he coded an interval generator when he was a kid in order to help him train his ear. Last week […]

University of Canterbury Seminar

Hi, I’m Chris and I teach people to teach machines. But I am a reluctant computer scientist. Sometimes I get concerned that the thing I know the most about is not directly linked to my survival. My father knew how to keep machines running. My wife grows vegetables. In a post-apocalyptic world, they would be […]

Why 12?

We looked previously at how an octave—or doubling, as we called it—is partitioned non-linearly into intermediate tones. But we didn’t ultimately decide how many intermediate tones there should be. The pioneers of Western music converged on a 12-partition. But why not 8? Or 10? Or 11? Or 13? Ultimately, we want our instruments to sound […]

Twelve Steps

Music theory is a daunting subject, built out of centuries of mathematical analysis and aristocratic pride. Sometimes I think I’d be better off reinventing it than trying to learn it at this late stage of its maturity. Here’s how I might get started. One day I’d be absently fooling around with a bit of wire, […]

Intervals in Deltaphone

For a few years now, schools and industry have been telling kids that they can code. They say the jobs are plentiful, and the salary is enviable—the workforce is waiting. The nobler agents of educational reform will also tell our kids that programming is a creative exercise that will make them better thinkers in other […]

Stepping Up in Deltaphone

Recently I added chords to Deltaphone, which required me to rethink how I was structuring the blocks to play notes. Previously, the play block came in two forms. There was a form for an absolutely-specified note, like “play C natural in the fourth octave.” And there was a form for a relatively-specified note, like “play […]

Kookaburra in Deltaphone

Though we have been in Australia for several months, we have hardly seen any of its unique wildlife. Fearing that we’d return home with no distinctly Australian experiences, we set out to find some animals. Given the number of news reports I’ve heard about kangaroos injuring humans, we decided to take it slow. We headed […]