Modelling music with grammars

Jim Kippen & Bernard Bel

Modelling music with gram­mars: for­mal lan­guage rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the Bol Processor. In A. Marsden & A. Pople (eds.): Computer Representations and Models in Music, London, Academic Press, 1992, p. 207-238.


Improvisation in North Indian tabla drum­ming is sim­i­lar to speech inso­far as it is bound to anun­der­ly­ing sys­tem of rules deter­min­ing cor­rect sequences. The par­al­lel is fur­ther rein­forced by the fact that tabla music may be rep­re­sent­ed with an oral nota­tion sys­tem used for its trans­mis­sion and, occa­sion­al­ly, per­for­mance. Yet the rules are implic­it and avail­able only through the musi­cians’ abil­i­ty to play cor­rect sequences and recog­nise incor­rect ones. A lin­guis­tic mod­el of tabla impro­vi­sa­tion and eval­u­a­tion derived from pat­tern lan­guages and for­mal gram­mars has been imple­ment­ed in the Bol Processor, a soft­ware sys­tem used in inter­ac­tive field­work with expert musi­cians. The paper demon­strates the abil­i­ty of the mod­el to han­dle com­plex struc­tures by tak­ing real exam­ples from the reper­toire. It also ques­tions the rel­e­vance of attempt­ing to mod­el irreg­u­lar­i­ties encoun­tered in actu­al performance.

Download this paper

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *