Manifold Compositions

The term manifold composition, introduced by Sever Tipei in 1989, defines all actual and potential variants of a musical work generated by a computer which

  1. runs a program containing elements of indeterminacy
  2. reads essentially the same data for each variant

A unlimited number of compositions belonging to the same equivalence class can be produced in this way. The members of a manifold composition are variants of the same piece; they share the same structure and are the result of the same process, but differ in the way specific events are arranged in time. A manifold composition is somewhat similar to the serigraphs produced by a visual artist, except that its individual members may be more distinct from one onother. The global effect depends on the coherence with which the control parameters are chose. For example, the members of a manifold composition may share certain fixed sections, while other sections diverge in different degrees.

Manifold compositions represent an idiomatic way of using computers in music composition by mass producing slightly different and, at the same time, unique versions of the same archetype. A version should not be performed in public more than once, thus stressing the ephemeral quality of any musical activity.

A.N.L.- folds is an example of a equivalence class or manifold composition. It was produced with Manifold, a computer-assisted program and DIASS, a Digital Instrument for Additive Sound Synthesis on the IBM Scalable POWERparallel System (SP) of the Mathematics and Computer Science division of the Argonne National Laboratory

More recently a number of compositions have been realized with DISSCO. Please see Compositions.

If interested in presenting a manifold, please contact:

in order to obtain a pristine, personal version.


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