Handy Plugin Makes New Music Popular and Profitable

A new plugin for Sibelius and Finale music engraving software is taking the music world by storm.

The new “Titleizer” plugin from Demisoft Technology systematically analyses a piece’s duration, instrumentation and pitch content and automatically generates a meaningless and unrelated title for the piece.

“Since Haydn’s time, we’ve all known that music sells better when it has a completely meaningless title that is completely unrelated and irrelevant to the piece of music it is appended to,” said Demisoft CEO, Filbert Verdorbenham.

“Post 1975, when composers world-wide realised the only way to get their music heard was to give their pieces catchy but meaningless titles, coming up with those titles has become an ever greater burden to the creative process. With so much at stake artistically and commercially, some composers spend minutes, even tens of minutes, struggling to come up with the right title for a piece they would otherwise have to call Overture in F Major. Nobody is going to program an Overture in F Major any more but “Green Soundings” is a sure winner, and the Titleizer plugin came up with that title automatically as soon as the composer of Overture in F Major pressed “save”.”

The Titleizer’s algorithm automatically detects the musical language of a work and assigns a title appropriate to the target audience. “We’ve noticed that throughout the various lines of the post-Webern high modernist schools there is a preference for single-word titles,” said Verdorbenham. For something in the Ligeti/Berio/Boulez vane, we prefer one word of 3-4 syllables. Often it is more effective to reach out to a foreign language, or even to add a meaningless diacritical mark to an English word. When in doubt, we also recommend adding a meaningless number We were thrilled by the success one of our clients had with an otherwise unremarkable 9 minute serial work for 13 piece ensemble which the Titleizer auto-named Invesitgâtións 9.”

For more extreme works in the modernist line, including those of the New Complexity school, finding a suitable extreme title is important. “Post-Ferneyhough music needs a word and a number comination that give the audience a good example of the severity of the musical experience. The people who listen to this music are pretty depraved and won’t settle for the easy-listening stylings of Birtwistle and Stockhausen. These are listeners who look at Boulez the way most classical musicians look at Justin Bieber.  They’re looking for works like “Mutilations X,” which was a big hit for one of our clients, or works that imply deep but carefully mediated disillusionment with humanity like “Prevarications Beta.” It’s got to combine severity, discomfort and pretension in just the right balance”

Minimalist works are best presented using the time-honored “random adjective + high energy noun” formula. “One of our clients made the Pulitzer short list this year with “Exploding Vectors,” while another managed to wangle a Proms commission for his otherwise unremarkable 7 minute “Luscious Stampede.”

Of course, today’s most popular new music genre, Kitchen-Sink-ism, combines modernist disregard for melody and a minimalist lack of harmonic vocabulary with an over-reliance on film music clichés and pitched metallic percussion. “We’re so excited about the results we’ve been getting for Kitchen-sink-ist works in the last couple of years,” said Verdorbenham.“We can get great results by just tweaking the minimalist format, avoiding nouns of action and replacing them with obscure colors and  language used on the Weather Channel. Golden Cumulous was a very successful oboe concerto for one of our artists, and we were also very proud of Jade Fog, a very formulaic but heavily over-orchestrated 6 minute concert opener which recently got a $75,000 commission fee out of a plumbing supply oligarch on the East Coast.”

With such a successful plugin, what comes next? “Well, we always knew we’d have to refine things to avoid overlap” said Verdorbenham. “Titleizer 1.1 was a little overgenerous with titles ending in “ions” because those are so popular with audiences. Some of the early titles in generated by 2.0 Beta include promising ones like “Despicable Crunch” for 11 viola da gambas and “Limpid Rectitude” for Brass Choir.”

Titleizer 2.0 is being released in June and is adding a new “subtitle” feature. “Important as catchy but meaningless titles are,” said Verdorbenham, “a good subtitle can help an unknown composer get noticed or help keep a fading brand viable a little longer. We’re already looking forward to 3 major US orchestras performing Invesitgâtións 2.3: Exhumed Soundings” in 2018-9.

For an addition cost, subscribers can also take advantage of the new Instant Program Note feature which saves the composer the minutes of time often needed to come up with a plausible programmatic justification for an otherwise abstract piece of sound art.

What next for this innovative company? “The Titleizer has shown that technology can free artists from the time-consuming creative process. We’re now working on a Composerizer which will analyse a given composer’s record collection and blog posts and generate pieces in his or her chosen style in just seconds. It’s a brave new world out there!”

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UPDATE

My old friend Daniel Meyers has made satire a reality with this incredibly funny piece/title generator.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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3 comments on “Handy Plugin Makes New Music Popular and Profitable”

  1. Andrew R. Davidson

    I first read ‘Titleizer’ as ‘Tit-leizer’ and tried to think what ‘Leizer’ meant in German. That could have made the article very different.

  2. Kenneth Woods

    While the intent was also that it be read Title-izer, I did note the comedic possibilities of the other arrangement

  3. Joe O'Farrell

    Love it!

    Incidentally, lest anyone should think this is not a serious issue, I know of more than one composer who revised the title and programme note of a piece before submitting it to a festival so that it fit the (meaningless and pretentious) theme. Oh for an app such as this… 🙂

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