WolframTones is based on a core discovery of Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science: that in the computational universe, even extremely simple rules or programs can give behavior of great complexity. Wolfram first found evidence of this surprising fact in his experiments in the early 1980s on systems known as one-dimensional cellular automata (now often called Wolfram automata). WolframTones is based on these very same types of systems.
The basic setup for Wolfram’s cellular automata is very simple. There is a row of cells, each black or white. Then there is a rule that says what color each cell will be, based on the colors of a certain neighborhood of cells on the row above. What pattern one gets depends greatly on the rule one uses—which can be specified by saying what color a cell will be for every possible arrangement of neighboring cells.