For Larry Polansky on his birthday, Oct 16, 2003

Discover secret messages about Larry and some of the things he likes, by matching the combinatorial pitch contour of the melody to the combinatorial alphanumeric contour of the secret message.

Contour directions are "D" down, "U" up, and "S" same. For elements where the melody contour matches the message contour, you see the value revealed, and you will hear the corresponding pitch. Where they don't match, you see "-", and hear nothing. NOTE: Chances are good that you will hear nothing when you first hit "GO" because it is likely that none of the pitches will be "in place" relative to their corresponding characters.

One strategy to follow is to begin by getting the first SUD row correct. This first row shows the SUD relationships between the first element and all the elements (the second row shows the SUD relationship between the second element and the rest, etc.). Then look for "-" in row N and try to fix the elements that are "out of place" with respect to element N. Also, try using big intervals so that you can see and hear the contour better.

You will find it easier to get pitches to be the same if you check "lock to integer", and maybe Show Grid. Remember: edit "pitch" in the MusicShape editor.

For more on combinatorial contour, read Larry's paper “Possible and Impossible Melody: Some Formal Aspects of Contour,” with Richard Bassein, Journal of Music Theory, 36(2): 259–284, 1992

Good luck!
You need a Java-enabled browser to view this applet.

By Nick Didkovsky.

* Java Music Specification Language (C) 1997-2003 Nick Didkovsky and Phil Burk, visit
* JSyn (C) 1997 Phil Burk, visit
* More on morphologies and distances here

Punos Music Home