I’ve been thinking about the different ways of aligning sequences in music, trying to list the possibilities. For example with the three sequences a b, 1 2 3 and w x y z:

Flush left:

a b
1 2 3
w x y z

Flush right:

a b
1 2 3
w x y z

Truncate on the right at shortest:

a b
1 2
w x

Truncate on the left at shortest:

a b
2 3
y z

Truncate at longest, repeating:

a b a b
1 2 3 1
w x y z

Repeat to first common multiple (polymeter):

a b a b a b a b a b a b
1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3
w x y z w x y z w x y z

Centre

a b
1 2 3
w x y z

Pad:

a b
1 2 3
w x y z

I also thought about variants within these, based on e.g. whether the items are padded with ‘silence’ or stretched to fill the space. For example if we do this with ‘pad’, we get classic musical polyrhythms:

a-----b-----
1---2---3---
w--x--y--z--

Also the above examples assume the three sequences are played at the same time (i.e., stacked up with the a horizontal time dimension going to the right). They could alternatively be concatenated to create monophonic sequences, though.

I’d bet that this is well explored territory in e.g. typography for example (centred, justified text etc), but I don’t know much about that. Does someone have some typographic or other references for this sort of thing that they could share?

I like these examples, they all seem useful to explore musically. A relevant concept from the SuperCollider language is the notion of “adverbs” (modifiers that can be used when combining arrays, or to modify the behaviour of any binary operator). Your examples above already cover some of these possibilities, but in case you’re interested:

The CSS flexbox example really was right under my nose! This makes me think about the very nice cascade system by @raphael for live coding musical patterns from CSS.