Generating music from flocking dynamics

Cristián Huepe*, Marco Colasso, Rodrigo F. Cádiz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


We explore the connection between complex systems and music by studying different approaches for generating music based on a flocking system. By developing software that links the dynamics of a standard flocking algorithm to a set of sound wave generators and to a musical score, we study how each approach reflects sonically the transition to collective order and which produces musically interesting results. First, we consider three qualitatively different ways to translate the flocking dynamics into music: (1) A direct approach that maps agent positions to sounds, (2) a synchronization approach where each agent has an oscillator that couples to neighboring agents, and (3) a physics-inspired approach that mimics the sound that would result from an effective friction between neighboring agents. We then discuss Ritmos Circadianos, a musical composition for a robot orchestra that is generated entirely from flocking dynamics in real-time, as an actual application of the proposed mapping algorithms. We find that all approaches allow the listener to discriminate between the ordered and disordered states of the flocking system and that the second and third approaches are particularly well suited for generating musically interesting and appealing results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationControls and Art
Subtitle of host publicationInquiries at the Intersection of the Subjective and the Objective
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783319039046
ISBN (Print)9783319039039
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Algorithmic music
  • Collective motion
  • Complex systems
  • Computer music
  • Control theory
  • Flocking
  • Generative music
  • Robotic art
  • Self-organization
  • Sonification
  • Swarms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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