Discoveries About the Language of Music
And The Musical Insights That Make It All Possible
First of all, forget everything you have ever heard about computer-generated music. Forget all the computer-generated music you have ever heard.
SuperConductor does things that no other computer program has ever done. The music SuperConductor generates must be heard to be believed. The music it makes is so beautiful and so passionate people can't believe it wasn't played by living, breathing musicians.
This remarkable new technology will revolutionize music appreciation and music interpretation around the world. Previously, a person had to dedicate a decade of their life to studying an instrument before they could play it well enough to really express their understanding of the composer's music.
Now, anyone can use SuperConductor to create subtle nuances in an instrument's performance. You can have SuperConductor perform your own music, or you can interpret the music that comes included with SuperConductor - over two hundred different works by several different composers. Each of these works is saved in a special format by SuperConductor. We expect to make available the entire Western Literature of great classical music for SuperConductor within two years. Subscribers will receive all these additional works for a small fee and subscription, as they become available.
About half of these works comes complete with settings, which means that you can play any one of them right away. As a SuperConductor and/or SuperPerformerPlus owner you will have a huge collection of classical music that you can play for your listening enjoyment even before you decide to modify any of it. The collection includes great works by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Mozart, among others. The "Play Concert" function allows you to select a series of works you would like to hear, and then it plays them for you in order. And you will be able to enlarge and complete your selection over a period of time, to give you your own personal collection of the world's musical masterpieces, interpretable by you.
Imagine that! You will own a collection of hundreds of great classical music pieces. If you were to acquire such a collection on conventional CDs, you would need to spend many times more!
SuperConductor does not save the music as a MIDI or a .wav file. The notes from the original score, for each instrument, are encoded. Each instrument is "instructed" how to perform its part of the piece. This is done by means of several functions, the most incredible of which are the "Hierarchic Pulse", the "Predictive Tone Sculpting", and the "Vibrato" (described below). Pulse functions may be compared to how hormones act on the cells of a body. Until now musicians worked to control single notes and bars, so that an organic whole would arise from their changes. Now, having discovered the "musical hormones", the control of the "hormone" activates organic control of the whole performance.
SuperConductor's revolutionary new technology causes the computer to generate each note of each instrument in "real time", in all its detail, as if it was being played live. The computer generates each note on each instrument exactly the way you instruct it to, through global controls. This results in a remarkably animated performance so superior to any other computer-generated music -- you must hear it to believe it.
Before SuperConductor, computer-generated music sounded mostly dead because each note tended to have a flat tone, flat loudness, and each note was played for its exact time. If the violin note was C and it was an eighth note, it was played for exactly an eighth, at exactly C. Real performers never do that. And synthesized music suffered from the monotony of having the same rise and fall shapes on all notes.
Real performers create emotion and intensity in their music by giving character and feeling to each note they play, by introducing microsilences, and by adding individual vibrato and changing volume over the course of a note. SuperConductor does all of these things, and more.
Through decades of focused and painstaking research, Dr. Manfred Clynes, with his colleagues, refined the insights into music that make SuperConductor possible. He discovered that composers of classical music each have their own unique Pulse. This Pulse affects the microstructure (duration and loudness) of each note played. Within the notes of a beat, variations as small as one millisecond are discernible, and each composer has his own unique way of incorporating microdurations into their work. Similarly, variations of a few percent in the loudness of a tone also has a marked effect on the emotional meaning of the performance.
Dr. Clynes determined the Pulse for each composer whose music is included with SuperConductor. The pre-set pulses are pulses Dr. Clynes derived and then confirmed by testing them on various audiences, including world-class concert musicians, conductors, and laypeople. When you call up a piece on SuperConductor and play it before modifying it, it is played according to this given pulse, adjusted for that piece.
The Pulse has three levels, all of which you can adjust to your own tastes:
Level One determines, generally among the musical bars, the level of differentiation in the music. If one looks at the score of a great piece of classical music (which is easy to do with SuperConductor, because scanned copies of the original scores for all the works are included) one notices that there are too few clues there to know exactly what the composer wished to hear. Traditionally, it has been the task of the conductor and the performers to decide precisely how to guide the music so it flowed together meaningfully and beautifully.
A student of classical music can look at a score and have a clear sense of its overall "musical landscape". As light from a sunrise falls upon the Earth, certain areas are illuminated and others are shaded. All of them are crucial parts of the landscape; the illuminated areas have a different visual characteristic from the shaded parts. The "composition" of the landscape is beautiful because all that can be seen, in all the various gradients of illumination, is present. Every part is essential, and no two parts are identical.
Similarly, when interpreting a musical score, all of the bars and notes are essential, but they must all be played in different ways in order to convey the beauty of the music. They must all be there, but they must all be uniquely expressed. SuperConductor is the first computer program that can accomplish this level of interpretation. The middle and top levels of the Pulse allow you to decide at what moment of the sunrise you would like to see the landscape. The landscape, or music, remains completely in tact; you have the ability to determine what angle of light, meaning what large scale and small scale dynamic flow of sound, is most beautiful.
Remarkably, when you make a change at any level of the Pulse, the composition is affected globally. You do not need to visit each page or each bar or each note and change it individually. When you change the Pulse, you change the nature of the performance; SuperConductor manifests the essence of this change for each note played on each instrument throughout the piece.
Level Two affects the notes in each individual bar in a way similar to Level One's effect on the bars in the entire piece. The balance of the notes within a bar convey meaning as does the balance of the bars in the composition. Indeed, conveying the overall emotive meaning of the music requires not only a fine balance of the bars, but a fine balance of the notes within the bars.
The second level of the Pulse allows you to determine what angle of light from the sunrise is most beautiful in a single crease in the hillside. You can make modifications that will enrich the overall effect of the music. Certain notes become more illuminated than others, even as each is essential to the piece as a whole, providing the kind of dance-like character to the music that you want it to have -- giving it the energy it radiates.
Level Three allows you to decide exactly how each note within a beat will be played, as if you could further refine your sunrise landscape by determining how an individual flower on the hillside shall look. Once again, when you change this level of the Pulse it causes a global modification throughout the entire performance; you need not modify each individual note. You need only to craft this level of the pulse towards your idea of how the music should flow, and the entire "ensemble" of instruments will respond as if of one mind.
(Future versions of SuperConductor will contain the pulses of additional composers that are added to our already substantial collection.)
Even an accomplished instrumentalist is not generally consciously aware of these levels of Pulse.
SuperConductor allows you to control the Pulse of the performance exactly, according to your own insights. When you change the pulse for a given piece, you change the way it plays the entire score. And of course, when the program plays the music, it makes no errors, so the performance you create is played exactly as you wanted it to be. You actually have more control than even the best conductor!
Each note is played in such a way as to anticipate the next note. Each note's "shape" is altered depending on what note follows it, and when that note arrives. This function provides a continuation of feeling and a feeling of continuation throughout each instrument's performance. Even this level of the performance is malleable within the SuperConductor program, using Predictive Tone Sculpting.
This function gives you a visually intuitive picture of how a given performer on a given voice or instrument approaches shaping each note. You can alter this to your tastes, transforming a quick, striking bow technique on the violin to a softer, more leisurely method, or vice versa. When you change this aspect of that voice's performance, the change is global, affecting the way that instrument approaches the entire performance.
Yet, every note is shaped individually, without your specific attention to it.
Vibrato is that part of the musician's physical work that causes very fast fluctuations in either the pitch or the amplitude of each note. Five to eight times a second the note will tremble slightly, and in the hands of a master, the way this alone is done conveys a huge amount of emotional meaning.
SuperConductor allows you to 'play' each instrument with this degree of competence. You can work with the Vibrato as easily as you can work with the Pulse or the Predictive Tone Sculpting.
Musical notes have been consciously and unconsciously manipulated by every performer since the music was created. Every ensemble and every conductor has struggled with them to try to create the 'perfect' interpretation of the music. Dr. Clynes is the first person to mathematically enable these functions in all their subtlety. His years of research, and his years of sensitively performing classical piano to audiences around the world, have helped make him uniquely qualified to accomplish such a task.
What used to take years of hard practice, and natural gifts of manual dexterity, to elicit from an instrument can now be created by anyone.
The program allows you to pursue the most subtle musical effects, as if you were a conductor working with a gifted ensemble of musicians who can follow your train of thought. You are able to pursue your ideas within a perfectly responsive musical environment.
Crafting a performance on SuperConductor allows you to work at the highest levels of musical interpretation. SuperConductor resembles the great Chinese game Go. It has been said that a child can learn to play Go in a few minutes. But it provides a lifetime of fascinating engagement to fully appreciate the game strategies that are possible. It takes only a short while to learn how to use SuperConductor, but since it presents a creative opportunity for the most subtle and emotive levels of the performance, with its simple yet masterful global controls it will provide you with hours of intense enjoyment.
Use SuperConductor to expand your love and understanding of classical music.