Perfectly in sync with my thoughts about linear and non-linear music I will attend a new course at Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) today. The name of the course is “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Rhythm” and today’s seminar is about temporarily. We’re excited to meet Martin Schertzinger over Skype to discuss deep philosophical questions about absolute time, circular time, rhythm and related things. When reading he’s text on temporalities from the book “The Oxford Handbook of Critical Concepts in Music Theory” I came across one shocking line that i didn’t have a clue about. You might know it already but if you don’t:

The rotation speed of the earth varies all the time!

  • The time it takes for one lap differs 3 min 56 seconds depending on if we refer to the sun or the stars.
  • It varies 30+ seconds across the year
  • It slows down about 2ms per century.


Obviously the rhythm of the universe is not quantized!


Music Mind Map


I’ve been touching on linear vs non-linear music in earlier posts, and even if I argue that music is always linear when we here it, we also know that there is an element of non-linearity in music for games, VR and other environments where the music needs to adapt to interactions. Through my teaching at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, me and my students have talked about alternative views in music productions. One idea that seamed strong was a Music Mind Map where we could have an overview of themes, tracks and parts in a production and have musical transitions between them when we’re navigating through the music.

Said and done, I decided to create a prototype and evaluate it with my students and some professional game music composers. Henrik Lindström contributed with wonderful music and I used my interactive music javascript library iMusic to synchronise all the audio. It’s not a working tool for making music but it gives an idea about what it could be like. Please have a go and don’t hesitate to give me feedback through the evaluation form: https://goo.gl/forms/ASOUpjJDLTBVO4Y93

Musical Design


I went to Milan this weekend. One of the worlds center for design. We went to see their design museum, Triennale, fantastic interior design shops, the beautiful MUDEC museum and the Leonardo3 museum. It was amazing to see all fantastic shapes, lights, colours and materials playing together like instruments in an orchestra.

Every now and then I stopped and listened. Listened to the beautiful sounds of people. And to lots of terrible sounds. Screaming sounds from an approaching train, beeping ticket machines, LoFi-speakers at museums playing different music simultaneously. I asked myself: What would this chaos of sounds look like if they were visuals? And a more pleasing thought:  What would all the beautiful visual design sound like if it was translated into music?

I strongly believe in making public places more peaceful, creative and positive through design. And musical design would be an important part of it. 

The general or the specific

I find the question about what kind of knowledge we create more and more engaging. Learning to do research in collaboration with the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and the Royal College of Music (KMH) puts me in an exciting landscape between looking for general knowledge through lots of data, numbers and statistics and searching for the more specific by digging deeper through interviews and interactions. Luckily I have found myself in a very exciting workgroup at KTH with lots of experience in exactly this area and I’m realising there are many reasons for using mixed methods and combining insights from different approaches to learn more to get a better picture of the problem.

This week I’m planning for a study where I want to gain more knowledge about how music producers would respond to a new interface for music production applications. It involves prototyping, testing and evaluation and I realise that this is not the last time I will do something like that. The question is: what general or specific knowledge is there to find and how do we find it? How general can we be in our studies before the result is not interesting at all? How specific and personal can the result be and still be of common interest?

Is there non-linear music?

Without time, there is no music. Therefor “non-linear music” is a confusing term. Live-performed music is linear even if improvisations loosens up the form a bit. Even loop-based, produced music is linear even if just within smaller blocks. In music for games we talk about “adaptive”, “dynamic” or “non-linear” music, but is it really non-linear?

In adaptive music, the final musical form is not linear according to preconceptions the composer might have had but it is still linear when we here it.

If we want to build an adaptive music engine supporting performed music better, we can probably use a lot the theories developed in improvised music and editing practices in record production of classical music. This insight will guide me further into my studies of Adaptive Music Production.