HMSL - Hierarchical Music Specification Language
HMSL was a popular music language from 1986 to 1996. HMSL was available from Frog Peak Music but is now out of print.
HMSL is a programming language for experimental music composition and performance. It is an object oriented set of extensions to the Forth language for the Amiga and the Macintosh. HMSL was developed by Phil Burk, Larry Polansky and David Rosenboom at the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music.
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Last updated 7/7/2013.
Call for ContributionsIf you are an HMSL programmer and would like to share your software, writings, or HMSL generated General MIDI files on this web site, please contact us here.
Listen to Some PiecesHMSL is normally used for live interactive MIDI performance but you can hear some pieces that have been captured in a MIDIFile. They are targetted to General MIDI and are designed to be heard using the QuickTime (or other) MIDI Plug In.
Plague by Nick Didkovsky for Dr. Nerve.
SUBDIV was composed by gamelan composer and electronic music pioneer Phil Corner and programmed by Phil Burk.
Delicate Computations was composed by composer and electronic music pioneer Phil Corner and programmed by Phil Burk. Hear it on SoundCloud!
REL_TUNING explores relative dynamic just intonation.
1990 - Nick Didkovsky video of "Lottery" at Mills College with Larry Polansky, Robert Marsanyi and Phil Burk
HMSL Related LinksArtifact Records publishes a number of composers who use HMSL in their work including JohnBischoff, Larry Polansky, Chris Brown, and the Hub. They also have a CD of Jim Tenney's work. Jim's theories on music provide the foundation for much of HMSL.
Nick Didkovsky is an active HMSL composer in New York who has written several articles on HMSL including:
- Lottery: Toward a Unified Rational Strategy for Cooperative Music Making
- HMSL - In All Languages. This article was first printed in EAR Magazine in Feb 1990
- COMPUTER-GENERATED COMPOSITION FOR DOCTOR NERVE
Steven Everett has composed extensively with HMSL.