OpenMusic Tutorial Sessions

I have been teaching OpenMusic to undergraduate and graduate composition majors at the University of Missouri School of Music this fall. As I started teaching, I decided to create a side project of making a series of tutorial videos. Today I decided to make them all public. There will be a new video every week, at least until the end of the year 2020.

In making these videos, I thank my students, colleagues and friends who never cease to inspire me, and I am deeply grateful to Michael Klingbeil, who introduced me to OpenMusic 13 years ago and gave me a solid foundation in it.

Yoshiaki Onishi, October 25, 2020


Why are you making these videos now?

I have been using OpenMusic for the past 13 years, and it has helped me imagine bigger things in music. And now the timing seems to be right for me to empower others—younger generations of composers in particular—and help them imagine bigger things, too. There are already a few tutorial video series on this software program, but I do mine alongside the OM Tutorial Patches that come with the software program, so that the learning curve for the program is progressive and gradual, with as little bumps as possible. The advantage of such tutorial videos is that the viewers can follow along, stop them whenever they wish to try things out on their computers. I have also implemented some of my twists to encourage the students to go deeper into some of the key concepts.

Will OpenMusic make composers write better music?

I say it will, so long as composers use it with their strong creative wills! At the very least I hope it gives them yet another way to think about process of composing, and music in general. I am interested in augmenting the affordance of flexibilities in compositional thoughts to young creative minds. (Edit: I amended the answer after I had a conversation with a friend who convinced me that OpenMusic does help composers write better music!)

Who should watch these videos?

Anyone who downloaded OpenMusic on their computers but doesn’t know where to start! (But I would heartily recommend checking out OpenMusic’s QuickStart Guide before proceeding with my videos.) I would recommend these videos to anybody who is interested in using OpenMusic, even undergraduates. I might even say the sooner the better.

Note: You will notice that as of late October, eight tutorial videos into it, I have yet to cover the tutorial on how to export the musical materials for use in music notation software programs. I will cover it as one of the last topics in the tutorial sequence. This is because:

(1) I view these initial tutorial videos as forming a skill-building tutorial sequence to get around well in OpenMusic as the viewers acquire basic skills in computer programming, and more importantly;

(2) Very often what OpenMusic generates will not be immediately usable in the actual notated music. That does not mean that they aren’t useful; rather, it means that it is necessary to work the materials out further, and that is one topic that deserves one tutorial session.

I insist—at least at the early stage of learning the software—that OpenMusic is best used as a musical sketchbook, where imagination can roam wild. Working with musicians will seemingly put a leash on such imaginations, but then hopefully what OpenMusic teaches—logical thinking process among other things—will help the composers reach a higher level of music-making in the collaborative process.

Is this free?

Yes, yes and yes! OpenMusic itself is free, so why should I charge people? At the moment, I am very fortunately employed where teaching/research is my job, so I find it unethical to charge money, especially given the current job climate where artists are going through very difficult times. We need to help each other, don’t we?

That said, I may start Patreon if there are enough people interested in the tutorial videos and they request special contents from me. After all, video editing takes a lot of time (how do these YouTubers find time to edit all these fancy schmancy videos!? Goodness…)

Table of Contents

  • Session 1: OM Tutorials 9, then 1~4 (Preliminaries, simple arithmetic operations)
  • Session 2: OM Tutorials 5-8 (arithmetic operations, cont’d.)
  • Session 3: OM Tutorials 11-13 (pseudorandomness, iterative function repeat-n)
  • Session 4: OM Tutorial 14 (OMif (conditional parameters))
  • Session 5: OM Tutorials 15 & 16 (OMloop)
  • Session 6: A Special Session on L-System Algorithm Implementation
  • Session 7: OM Tutorials 17 & 18 (managing list structures with flat; interpolation)
  • Session 8: OM Tutorials 19-21 & extra (BPF, etc.)
  • Session 9: OM Tutorials 22-23 (review of Chord-seq object)
  • Session 10: OM Tutorials 24-25 & extra (Rhythm Trees)

Here is the playlist. Be sure to check out the individual video page on Vimeo for timestamps and some downloadable contents attached to some of the videos.