Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Computer Science

First Advisor

Kristina Striegnitz




music, composition, cellular automation, translator


For millenia, we’ve thought of musical composition as a purely human activity. However, we once also thought of an activity like chess to be purely human, but Deep Blue was able to defeat Kasparov in 1995 all the same. Could there perhaps be some tool or algorithm for musical composition that can replicate to some extent what human beings can do with music? This project explores this idea through the use of a tool called a cellular automaton. A cellular automaton is a grid space with a finite number of states for each of the ”cells” or ”squares” where a simple rule is applied, and through this rule amazingly complicated patterns emerge over many time steps. We tested the potential of these systems for choosing when and what notes to play in a musical composition. In this project, we mainly focused on creating a translator between music and cellular automata that matches music theory as closely as possible. Whether or not the tracks produced are musical or not could shed light on the computer’s ability to replicate high-level human activities.