I’ll be teaching a course in algorithmic composition in Fall 2014. To prepare for this course and other projects, I decided to reread books on the subject during the summer. The first book I am revisiting is Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture by Reas, McWilliams, and LUST.

I learned about the aesthetics of generative and code-based art from this book. I enjoyed applying the ideas and concepts I have learned to my music. The book taught me how to think about composition in numbers and codes.

I am thinking about requiring students to read at least the first chapter of the book. The summary of the chapter includes some great sentences:

“Learning to program and to engage the computer more directly with code opens the possibility of not only creating tools, but also systems, environments, and entirely new modes of expression. It is here that the computer ceases to be a tool and instead becomes a medium.” (p25)

The chapter also mentions that using a computer in art reduces the production time, so the artists can use the extra time and energy to explore the procedure and structure. Coding in art also enables a person to customize and “hack” the tool. These ideas are easily applied to computer music.

I also like the chapter because it gives succinct definitions on algorithm and code. Algorithm is a specific instruction to do a task (p13). Code is an algorithm written in a programming language (p15). Thus, an algorithmic composition is a process of making music with specific instructions written for computer.

Here’s a simple example of such algorithmic compositions. Introvert has algorithmically generated computer accompaniment for live melodica player.  The computer part generates same chord progression, but the timing, volume, and octave position of each notes are chosen by the computer. This makes the computer part somewhat unpredictable, and makes the part unique for each performance.

Je Seok Koo

I am fortunate to have many talented artist friends. They inspire me, and they do things that I cannot do. Je Seok Koo is an example of such friends. I was introduced to him when he came to The University of Arts in 2012. Over the past few years, Je Seok has become a versatile multimedia artist with an impressive portfolio. Here are some of the things he does exceptionally well.

1. He designs installations and musical instruments

2. He programs audio, and designs web. (Guess who designed my web?)

3. He and I play shows, and he makes living by doing his art (i.e. there are many people who needs his skills).  Check out his recent project with Beats By Dre.

As a technologist, Je Seok helps people (or groups) to do art. I have enjoyed late night discussion with him at a cafe in Philadelphia. We talk about music, codes, and gear. I think we need more people like Je Seok. Meanwhile, contact him at if you need to make an interactive Christmas tree or custom synthesizers.




My name is Joo Won Park. I am an electronic musician currently living in Philadelphia. I make music with computers, circuits, instruments, and any other objects that make interesting sounds. For example, here’s my recent project on making 100 videos of live electronic music:

I am also a teacher of electronic music and composition. I have been teaching at the Community College of Philadelphia for six years, and I will be teaching at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music starting in September 2014.

I would like to use this blog as a place to share my works, influences, collaborators, technologies, and discoveries. If you wan to learn how I am made music with cabbage, tuning fork, no-input mixer,  and toy piano, please subscribe (there’s a button in the bottom-left corner) and visit me from time to time.  I would also be more than happy to communicate via email or social network.