Frequently Asked Questions

Because of its unique design Symbolic Composer can play many roles.

  • Symbolic Composer is a production tool for making music with MIDI.
  • It is an expert-system for music composition.
  • It is a programming language for musicians based on Lisp.
  • Symbolic Composer is a mapper enabling any data to become music.

In Symbolic Composer’s terms music is thought of as a language expressed in melodies, rhythms, notes, durations, harmonies, tonalities, chords and intervals. This language is largely symbolic, lying invisibly behind sound and timbre as the inner substance of the musical message.

No matter what style or idiom you work in the basic elements of this language are always present.

What I will need?

To run Symbolic Composer you need a Macintosh or Windows PC and 2-16 GB RAM and 200-400 MB hard disk depending on the disk partitioning.

But the most important thing is: You do need a willingness to take time out to learn a new language.

I see, it is non-profit project, what does it mean?

Symbolic Composer is a non-profit Artificial Intelligence project, and needs your contributions to cover the maintenance costs caused by OS changes, bug fixes and new function additions.

Upgrades are used to cover these costs. This enables it to keep stable during the future. SCOM has been kept stable this way from the 80’s, and its base is from 50’s. You future is safe this way. You grow older and SCOM keeps running. Your scores preserve while platforms fail. You are part of A.I. It is not Skynet.

How does it play back MIDI?

SCOM plays back with MidiTrail, or with your sequencer. SCOM can directly launch results into any decent sequencer or notation program such as iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player, Logic, Ableton, Performer, Notator, Finale, Sibelius, MuseScore and many others. If SCOM cannot directly command your DAW, you can manually import or drag SCOM MIDI file into it. You can select DAW from menus. SCOM has universal support for all.

How does the demo version run?

SCOM demo mode shows you the interface items and provides you full access to documents. You can play back demo scores, but if you want to compile your own scores you need to contribute to the project.

What kind of music does SCOM let me compose?

SCOM is a context-free music language. Context-free means that SCOM does not restrict the style you want to compose with it. You can do anything.

Is it realtime?

Yes. Compilation occurs in few seconds and you can play back the piece immediately.

Can I use live input from a keyboard?

No. That is improvising. In SCOM you would think how to write a piece of code that improvises instead of you.

Can I program my own code?

Yes. You can define new functions and add them to the system. That is how SCOM has been developed by users from the beginning.

Who is a typical user?

A composer who has a clear mind open for new. Fascination to find out new solutions to experiment with.

Is it easy to learn?

With open mind SCOM is like a modular synth. You wire it the way you feel. You will find SCOM suddenly gives you capabilities to exceed your knowledge. No matter what style or direction your music takes it, Symbolic Composer lets you handle that.

You are probably familiar with myriad Youtube videos, which show you how to do things, right? Just write some text snippets in the SCOM editor and experiment. Then compile it to a MIDI to play your synths. No wasting time on watching videos. It’s mindplay now.

What is the best way to learn it?

The best way to learn it is an open attitude and making lots of experimentations. Like an instrument it does not open up just by reading a book. SCOM includes a lot of example scores to start with.