This genius algorithm turns your name into an awesome musical cipher

30 August 2017, 12:18

By Amy MacKenzie

Ever wondered what your name would sound like as a musical motif? You can now find out using Clarallel, an algorithm that reveals your musical cipher.

Musical ciphers (which are means of transforming text, usually a name, into a musical motif using logical relations between letters and pitches) have been used by Western composers for centuries. Even though Western musical notation uses letters for pitch names, this only works for the letters A to G. Therefore, in the past composers have struggled to find a logical method for the other letters. 

For example, in one piece, the composer Robert Schumann created a melody out of his wife Clara's name. The letters C-l-a-r-a became C(#)BAG(#)A. For the letters c and a, Schumann used the logical pitches C(#) and A. For the letters l and r, he simply assigned the pitches B and G(#), as they make melodic sense of the surrounding pitches.

Kai Konishi-Dukes has developed an algorithm building upon the above method which turns your name, or anything else you write in the box, into a little musical ditty. He's called it Clarallel. 

Above is C-l-a-s-s-i-c-F-M in a minor key, then in a major key. Sounds fun, doesn't it? 

The algorithm is powerful, but at this stage it can only transform letters into a short melody. However, when you couple Clarallel with the human hand and ear, you can create an extended composition:

What does your name sound like? Give it a go here. 

Nice work, Kai!