Composer in your Pocket: Procedural Music in Mobile Devices

Elise Plans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As technology improves, we are seeing a growth in the use of mobile devices as a medium to disseminate procedural musics (music as a realisation of processes, rather than a predetermined, fixed score) as standalone works that previously only existed within other constraints, such as game soundtracks, installations or live events.

With his recent release of Reflections (Eno et al., 2017), Brian Eno feels able to finally distribute his music as intended rather than having to “capture” an album length version that can be tied down to a CD or vinyl record (Eno et al., 2017).

It could be argued that the procedural aspect of minimalist music lends itself to “gamification” as attested by successful versions of “In C” and “Clapping Music” by Terry Riley and Steve Reich respectively (2014; 2015).

In further exploration of this medium, Massive Attack (2016) use various data streams from the mobile device itself to influence and modify the music, creating ever-changing versions of their tracks.

Some of these considerations have already been addressed in the literature on procedural audio in mobile games (Guerraz and Lemordant, 2008), useful to composers wishing creating standalone works, which evolve as processes, rather than static objects.

This paper aims to review some of the works presented so far in this format, with a view towards investigating some of the advantages and disadvantages that composers of works intending to exploit this medium might take into account when designing the work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMusic on Screen: From Cinema Screens to Touchscreens. Musicology Research (online)
VolumeAutumn 2017
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Procedural Music
  • Adaptive Music
  • Mobile Music

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