Someone made an algorithm that turns your name into a musical cipher

27 December 2019, 15:46

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.

But as Western musical notation uses letters for pitch names, this clearly only works for the letters A to G – and composers in the past have struggled to find a logical method for the other letters. 

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.

Now, 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:

Want to find our what your name sounds like? Give it a go here.