An analysis of algorithmic composition interaction design with reference to Cognitive Dimensions

Bellingham, Matt; Holland, Simon and Mulholland, Paul (2014). An analysis of algorithmic composition interaction design with reference to Cognitive Dimensions. Technical Report 2014/04; Department of Computing, The Open University.



This paper presents an analysis, using Cognitive Dimensions (Blackwell & Green, 2003), of a representative selection of user interfaces for algorithmic composition software. Cognitive Dimensions are design principles for notations, user interfaces and programming language design, or from another viewpoint 'discussion tools' for designers (Green & Blackwell, 1998). For the purposes of this report, algorithmic composition software is software which generates music using computer algorithms, where the algorithms may be controlled by end users (who may variously be considered as composers or performers). For example, the algorithms may be created by the end user, or the user may provide data or parameter settings to pre-existing algorithms. Other kinds of end-user manipulation are also possible. A wide variety of algorithmic composition software is considered, including visual programming languages, text-oriented programming languages, and software which requires or allows data entry by the user. The paper considers a representative, rather than comprehensive, selection of software. The analysis also draws, where appropriate, on related discussion tools drawn from Crampton Smith (Moggridge, 2006), Cooper et al. (2007) and Rogers et al. (2011). Finally, the paper reflects on the compositional representation of time as a critical dimension of composition software that is not satisfactorily addressed by Cognitive Dimensions, or any of the other discussion tools.

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