Monday Morning in Lagos (2015) – generative composition

Featured image: Emeka Kupeski Okereke (2017)


Monday Morning in Lagos is a generative composition made with Pure Data software. It’s based on a Lagos Soundscape recording of the same title by Emeka Ogboh, and forms part of our LOS-HEL project in which Lagos and Helsinki come together through sound, image and text.

In the beginning of the recording a blind boy is heard singing a beautiful tune on a street corner in Lagos. I have chosen few short phrases of his singing, and turned these into “seeds” (or audio samples) from which the piece then generates itself. Additionally I’ve created few “seeds” of harmonic chords to accompany the singing and which similarly grow over time. Both of these “seed sets” are further subjected to a chain of audio treatments like granular synthesis, convolution, delays and modulation that enable the piece grow more abstract.

The engine behind the piece is an elaborate sample player created in Pure Data, and operated by a probabilistic algorithm; the treatments are similarly operated by a set of probabilistic algorithms (using mostly Markov chains). This probabilistic character means that while the piece is slightly different and randomized each time it’s played (in PD or an app running on the PD engine), it always has a unified character throughout. And this to me is more interesting than if the piece had a completely random and unpredictable behaviour: it’s like a river, always changing yet always retaining its character.

Here’s a 9-minute recording of one of the variations of the piece:


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