Making music out of the text

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  nikk 10 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #4402 Reply

    Georgie Fruit

    I thought of an interesting way to translate the library into music partially using the French method of generating musical cryptograms. Letters A-G represent their respective notes, and H-Z are assigned to the note at the top of the column.

    A B C D E F G
    H I J K L M N
    O P Q R S T U
    V W X Y Z

    Commas represent sharps, periods represent flats and space represent rests. Sharps and flats stack with each other or cancel each other out, and affect whichever letter comes immediately after them. For example:
    “v.vkeoltjb,ae p” is translated to: A Ab D E A E F C B A# E (rest) B

    I’ve been entertaining myself in class lately by trying to find interesting melodies in the hexes. I’m curious to see if I’ll ever stumble upon something recognizable!

    #4429 Reply

    Jim Urtle

    Interesting, let us know if you find anything nice πŸ™‚

    #4465 Reply


    This is a very interesting idea! One could even extend it by assigning different octave registers to the different sets of letters. So you would have something like:

    C D E F G A B would be (C2 D2 E2 F2 G2 A2 B2)
    H I J K L M N would be (C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 A3 B3)
    O P Q R S T U would be (C4 D4 E4 F4 G4 A4 B4)
    V W X Y Z would be (C5 D5 E5 F5 G5)

    just as an example. It might also be possible to read two lines of text at the same time interpreting the upper line in the treble clef and the lower line in the bass clef. That way you could increase the number of registers to 8. (However, this is a lot more complicated that reading line by line because of the special meaning of ,. and space)

    Turning this idea into an algorithm shouldn’t be complicated at all. Then you could input a sequence of notes and it would translate it into letters and find the respective page in the library. You could also make it read any page and translate it into notes (and play those). Of course most of the time it would not sound too nice πŸ˜€ But I think it would be very interesting to see how accurately we could find and play famous melodies using the Library of Babel.

    #4486 Reply

    Georgie Fruit

    My friend is actually making a program to be able to automatically translate it right now, a la google translate. I really like the idea about the octave assignment! Using that system would make it harder to find melodies that make musical sense, but easier to search for them.

    My girlfriend is a sculpture artist, and is just as inspired by the library as I am. She’s working on something inspired by it right now, and we’re probably going to incorporate music “generated” by the library as well. If it turns out well, I’ll definitely post about it.

    #4488 Reply

    Jim Urtle

    Please share πŸ™‚

    Looking forward to seeing your friend’s program. If I have any time today I’ll try to see if I can play around and make an algorithm to listen to books. At least while I wait for a more refined version of this πŸ™‚

    #4491 Reply

    Georgie Fruit

    Awesome. Yeah, he probably won’t have it done until next week (finals week!), but I’m really excited to see how it turns out. This sort of reminds me of Cage finding inspiration in the I Ching.

    #4518 Reply

    Manuel Reinsperger

    If you want to try listening to the books, I have already written a nice little script that you can check out at:

    Sounds mostly interesting, but with the right settings just puts you into the perfect mood for a long library search.

    #4793 Reply

    Jim Urtle

    How do we get the script to run? Can’t seem to get it to work

    #4818 Reply

    Jonathan Basile

    Hey Jim,

    I’ve written out instructions here:

    And I’ll summarize them here:

    2) right click the β€œBookmarklet Here!” link and copy the link, then open a new tab, right click the bookmark bar, and select add page.

    3) Where it says URL paste what you have copied – the javascript code will show up there. Then give it any name and add the bookmark

    4) Go to any page of the library and select the bookmarklet from your bookmarks – it creates tones based on the letters on the page!

    #4917 Reply


    Could someone clarify these instructions for Firefox or Edge. My Chrome was corrupted and is unusable.

    With Firefox I copy the link, but when I go to put it in where the URL goes nothing happens. I cannot bookmark it. Hitting enter does nothing.

    Edge is even more confusing.

    #4919 Reply

    Jonathan Basile

    Hey earthpet,

    Try out these instructions and let me know if they work for you:

    #4921 Reply


    Earthpet, you’re probably having the same problem I’ve got.
    Firefox, Icecat, nor Iceweasel will allow unsecure bookmarklets (I.E. scripts loaded from an HTTP rather than an HTTPS server), so I made a GH repo with the LOBMUSIC.js script (because GitHub’s got HTTPS) and edited the bookmarklet to load the script from there. Along with that, the bookmarklet loads jquery.min.js from a Google HTTP server. For this, just add an “s” after “http” and it’ll work.

    It’s quite an annoying workaround, but it seems Firefox (and it’s derivative’s) unsecure script allowance is broken, at least it is for me.

    #24378 Reply


    this is really cool, thank you

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