The Musical Plant is a virtual life that
resides in a PC and accepts signals from a
MIDI control devices such as a keyboard. The
plant grows as it receives MIDI signals, and
it takes a shape that is determined by the
characteristics of the input. The shape thus
becomes a reflection of the MIDI input. Some
MIDI songs will generate complex shapes while
others will generate relatively simple shapes
according to the musical form of the MIDI
Before the musician begins
to input a MIDI signal, the primitive plant is
rotating at the center of the PC display. As
signals are input, branches are added to the
plant. Each MIDI note generates a branch of
the plant. The angle of each branch is
determined by the musical context of the note.
Plant characteristics such as branch colors,
rotation speed and rotation angle are changed
with respect to MIDI parameters such as
velocity and note intervals.
When input of the MIDI
signal stops, the plant begins to decompose.
In this process, each decomposing branch
creates a series of sounds. The sound
intervals are derived from the notes that made
the branch. The decomposing process has two
configurations. One configuration is
horizontal reversing and another is vertical
Horizontal reversing, in
this sense, means that the order of
decomposition - proceeds from the first
(innermost) branch to the last (outermost)
branch. Further, the sound of a disappearing
branch has the same interval as the note that
formed the branch. Therefore, the
collection of these sounds essentially
reverses the original sounds.
Vertical reversing means
that decomposition proceeds in the same order
as in creation, but the sound of each
disappearing branch reverses the interval of
the original note. That is, when the interval
is reversed, higher notes become lower notes.
Also, when reversing is applied, minor chords
become major chords since the relation of
notes is reversed.
The musical plant analogy
provides a way to visualize the composition
and decomposition processes. For example
similar MIDI songs will tend to generate
similar plant shapes. The music plant analogy
also aids in determining the essential
elements of a "good tune". Many
well-known songs also sound good when played
in reverse order.