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Tutorial | Quickstart Guide | Load Midi Guide | Load File Guide | Advanced Features


This tutorial was created by Marie E. Norton, a member of the MaestroGenesis team.

Quick Start Guide

The Quickstart option allows you to get started playing with MaestroGenesis right away. Press the Quickstart button to begin creating songs from one of the preselected MIDIs.

Quick Start

Select one of the default songs for which you would like to generate accompaniment. This example shows the user selecting Scarborough Fair, but you could choose Bad Girl's Lament or Nancy Whiskey.

Select MIDI

The new window displays ten FSMC-generated accompaniments for Scarborough Fair. Two are shown in the image below. The rest can be viewed by scrolling down the page.

Initial Generation

Each horizontal section represents a single candidate accompaniment. To hear the accompaniment, click on an individual (neat the "ID" tag) and press the Play button (at top). Notice that a selected individual has a yellow border.

Initial Generation Play

Press the Floppy icon if you would like to save the candidate as an MP3 file so you can keep it. Whenever MaestroGenesis produces something you like, you can always save it in this way. You will find that MaestroGenesis tends to generate many interesting accompaniments for the same song, so you may ultimately end up saving a number of different versions that you like. When the MP3 is saved, MaestroGenesis also saves a special file that can be loaded back into the program later to continue evolution.


When you find a good accompaniment, indicate your approval by pressing the hand button. The program will incorporate aspects of your highly rated accompaniments into the the next set of candidate accompaniments that it generates.

Rating an Individual

The main idea in MaestroGenesis is that you are breeding accompaniments. In other words, think of your set of candidate accompaniments as a stable of horses that you are breeding. If you choose your favorite horse as a parent, then you can get more horses that are like it, but slightly different. If you continue selecting parents and listening to the children, your accompaniment will literally evolve to reflect your personal inclinations. To select a parent for a new generation, press Evolve (represented by the "DNA" icon), and you will get ten new accompaniments based on the selected accompaniment. Continue with this process as long as you like, saving your favorites along the way.


Ten new accompaniments that are based on the thumbs-up accompaniments from the initial set are displayed. You can continue the process of selecting candidates you like and evolving them until a satisfying accompaniment is discovered.


While the grand piano is the default instrument for accompaniment playback, it can be changed by pressing the button that says "Grand Piano."

Instrument Selection

You will see a window divided into instrument categories and specific instruments. Press the category to change the type of instrument.

Instrument Selection

Now, the electric bass is selected.

Instrument Selection Bass

Adjust the volume of the the underlying track (called the "base track") by pressing at different points along the bar. Instrument Selection Bass

Load Midi Guide

From the start screen, press the Load MIDI button to begin creating songs from one of your own MIDIs. When you load a MIDI in this way (unlike through Quickstart), you will be able to decide which parts of the loaded MIDI you want the accompaniment to depend on.


When the dialog box opens, choose a MIDI. Nancy Whiskey is chosen here.

Select MIDI

In the window that pops up, you will see all of the different parts of your original MIDI. For example, in the MIDI shown below, Nancy Whiskey, there are eight different tracks (three shown) from which to choose. The generated accompaniment can only "hear" what you select in these boxes. In other words, the accompaniment that is generated will be based only on the tracks that you choose here. In this example, the user has specified that MaestroGenesis will only listen to the first track for rhythm cues by checking the Metronome shape that is circled below. In other words, MaestroGenesis will take rhythmic cues from the first track, but will not pay attention to its pitches. Thus the rhythms of the generated accompaniments will be based in part off of the first track in the MIDI.

Input Rhythm

The Tuning Fork shape is selected for the second track, which means that MaestroGenesis will "hear" the pitches in this track when it generates the accompaniment. Thus MaestroGenesis is taking pitch-related cues from the fourth track, but not paying attention to its rhythm.

Input Rhythm and Pitch

Both the Metronome and Tuning Fork of the third track are checked, which indicates that MaestroGenesis will "hear" both rhythmic and pitch cues from this track. Therefore, in summary, MaestroGenesis is listening to the first track for rhythm, the second for pitch, and the third for both rhythm and pitch.

Input Rhythm, Pitch, and Both

The tracks that you tell MaestroGenesis to listen to, and whether or not you tell it to listen to pitch or rhythm or both, affects the character of the ultimate accompaniment that comes out. For example, you can imagine that if it only listened to one simple track, then the output accompaniment would end up being simple and related in some way to that one track. On the other hand, if you tell MaestroGenesis to listen to many tracks, the generated accompaniment will be richer and more complex. Neither option is necessarily better: you may want nice simple accompnaiment or complex and nuanced accompaniment. By selecting which tracks are important, you get to influence which kind of accompaniment is likely to come out.

As a general rule, if you are unsure what to do, try selecting both the Metronome and Tuning Fork options for the tracks that carry the most important parts of the songs. You can decide for yourself which ones those are by pressing the speaker (in the upper left part of the track selection window) to hear only the tracks you have selected, all played together.

Specify MIDI Inputs?

Click Done to create new generation of candidate accompaniments for you to listen to.

Specify MIDI Inputs?

MaestroGenesis generated a set of candidate accompaniments. Your screen will look similar to the image below. Once you have selected the tracks from which to generate accompanment, breeding proceeds in the same way as described for Quickstart. You can refer to the Quickstart (above) guide for full information on playing and saving accompaniments.

Accompaniments Generated

Load File Guide

To load a population of accompaniments (previously saved by MaestroGenesis), press Load File.

Load File

Select your desired population file from the dialog box and the chosen accompaniments will be displayed.

Advanced Features

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1002507. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.