A new kind of music
Simply put, here’s what he does: starting with a simple initial state (a black or a white cell in a grid of cells), and repetitively applying a simple rule, one would expect a repetitive and deterministic pattern. Amazing though, the results are apparently random. But being random doesn’t make it interesting. What does is that there are discernable features that evolve in the design over successive iterations. Almost like the appearance of a semblance of order and intelligence amid chaos. His discovery is that simple programs can produce great complexity. This goes against the grain of conventional thought, as he puts it, "Whenever a phenomenon is encountered that seems complex it is taken almost for granted that the phenomenon must be the result of some underlying mechanism that is itself complex".
Using cellular automata algorithms, the open-source jMusic framework and a whole lot of ingenuity, Paul Reiners has created Automatous Monk, a Java program that generates melodies from cellular automata evolutions. The Automatous Monk project is hosted on Sourceforge. The project website lists several works that I have readily come to appreciate. My personal favorite is the oldie but goodie Tall Girl from the Mountains using Rule 208, performed by the Mad String Quartet. It may be an acquired taste, but like a tropical fruit, it stays with you. A new kind of music, no?