MorpheuS: Generating Structured Music with Constrained Patterns and Tension

Dorien Herremans*, Elaine Chew

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Automatic music generation systems have gained in popularity and sophistication as advances in cloud computing have enabled large-scale complex computations such as deep models and optimization algorithms on personal devices. Yet, they still face an important challenge, that of long-term structure, which is key to conveying a sense of musical coherence. We present the MorpheuS music generation system designed to tackle this problem. MorpheuS' novel framework has the ability to generate polyphonic pieces with a given tension profile and long-and short-term repeated pattern structures. A mathematical model for tonal tension quantifies the tension profile and state-of-the-art pattern detection algorithms extract repeated patterns in a template piece. An efficient optimization metaheuristic, variable neighborhood search, generates music by assigning pitches that best fit the prescribed tension profile to the template rhythm while hard constraining long-term structure through the detected patterns. This ability to generate affective music with specific tension profile and long-term structure is particularly useful in a game or film music context. Music generated by the MorpheuS system has been performed live in concerts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE transactions on affective computing
Early online date10 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • affective computing
  • music information retrieval
  • music generation
  • sound and music computing
  • variable neighborhood search
  • pattern recognition


Dive into the research topics of 'MorpheuS: Generating Structured Music with Constrained Patterns and Tension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this