Generative Music Tools: Turing Machine – LIVE Session

Level: Intermediate

There are a broad array of techniques musicians can use to generate music in Max. One such process involves taking inspiration from Alan Turing’s early work on proto-computers, in particular the notion of a tape with data being displayed on it.

This workshop will provide you with the information to construct such a generative device, a ‘Turing Machine’, to supplement your compositional practice.

Session Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamentals of a Turing Machine in a musical context.

  • Patch together a generative process using randomisation and counters.

  • Build a functional UI to tweak different aspects of the generative process in real time.

  • Use the finished device to both generate music through MIDI and control broader parameters of software instruments.

Session Study Topics

  • Turing machines, generative music.

  • Random processes: drunken walks and probability.

  • Visual design in Max

  • Composition through MIDI and software instrument manipulation.


  • A computer and internet connection
  • Access to a copy of Max 7 or 8 (i.e. trial or full license)

About the workshop leader 

Samuel Pearce-Davies is a composer, performer, music programmer and Max hacker living in Cornwall, UK.

With a classical music background, it was his introduction to Max/MSP during undergraduate studies at Falmouth University that sparked Sam’s passion for music programming and algorithmic composition.

Going on to complete a Research Masters in computer music, Sam is now studying a PhD at Plymouth University in music-focused AI.