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Tag: algorithmic

Disconnected, an Album of Algorithmic Sound Collages from the Web

I’m pleased to announce the release of Disconnected, and album of algorithmic sound collages generated by pulling sounds from the web.

I prefer to call this album semi-algorithmic because some of the music is purely software-generated, while other pieces are a collaboration between the software and myself. Tracks four and six are purely algorithmic, while the other tracks are a mix of software-generated material and more traditionally composed material.


The software used in the sound collage pieces (1, 3, 4, 6) was inspired by Melissa Schilling’s Small World Network Model of Cognitive Insight. Her theory essentially says that moments of cognitive insight, or creativity, occur whenever a connection is made between previously distantly related ideas. In graph theory, these types of connections are called bridges, and they have the effect of bringing entire neighborhoods of ideas closer together.

I applied Schilling’s theory to sounds from My software searches for neighborhoods of sounds that are related by aural similarity and stores them in a graph of sounds. These sounds are then connected with more distant sounds via lexical connections from These lexical connections are bridges, or moments of creativity. This process is detailed in the paper Composing with All Sound Using the FreeSound and Wordnik APIs.

Finally, these sound graphs must be activated to generate sound collages. I used a modified boids algorithm to allow a swarm to move over the sound graph. Sounds were triggered whenever the population on a vertex surpassed a threshold.

Disconnected is available for download from Xylem Records.


Phil Burk’s Look Back Melody Algorithm

First of all, I probably shouldn’t attribute this algorithm to Phil Burk. I imagine that many people have implemented a version of this algorithm. It’s a simple, almost fundamental musical algorithm, but he is the first person who brought it to my attention, so for the time being, I will call it Phil Burk’s Look Back Algorithm.

In pseudocode, the algorithm looks like this:

1. Generate a handful of random note events (pitch, duration, velocity)
2. For each successive note in the piece, notes[i] = notes[i - delay] + transposition
3. Occasionally insert a random note event
Where notes is an array of note events, notes[i] represents the current event, delay represents how far to look back, and transposition is a transformation of the previous notes.

Phil brought up this algorithm in reference to a hyper-simplistic fugue generator. Essentially all it does is repeat sections of music that have already been generated. It pulls subsets of earlier note events and subtly transforms them. It infinitely noodles around on whatever random note events are generated in the first place.

The algorithm is remarkably effective for its simplicity. It is an elegant way of generating really coherent melodies. Here is a simple melody I generated using this algorithm: LookBackOutput.mid

And here is a simple Eclipse project that implements the Look Back algorithm in java and outputs midi files.

Texturologie 9: Phacelia by James Caldwell

A performance (by the composer) of Texturologie 9: Phacelia (2010) for computer music controlled by Wii Remote. The music is generated by a program made with Max/MSP. Take a look at Texturolgie 8b: Hyperbell (2009) and the explanation of the two Texturologie pieces for Wii Remote. Recorded at Western Illinois University. [1]

Sound Activated Augmented Reality Sculptures for iPhone

Konstruct is an investigation into Generative Art in an Augmented Reality environment. It is a sound reactive AR experience for the iPhone that allows the user to create a virtual sculpture by speaking, whistling or blowing into the device’s microphone. A variety of 3D shapes, colour palettes and settings can be combined to build an endless collection of structures. Compositions can be saved to the device’s image gallery.

Konstruct is a free app available on iPhone 3GS and 4 running iOS 4+. A version for the iPad 2 is planned for the coming months.

Konstruct site –​konstruct
More info –​2011/​03/​30/​konstruct-ar-iphone-app/​ [1]

Via Make

Signature by Isa Wilson

Signature performed at Theater Forum Kreuzberg. Text is typed into the patch and converted to chords and notes. [1]

Mapping Study 3 by Stephen Callear

The third in a series of case studies exploring parameter mapping techniques between granular synthesis and particle systems. The primary aim of the video was to establish the success of opaque mappings between particle and granular synthesis systems. Particle behaviour was controlled using the same input data as the previous studies. The resultant visual parameters were then sent to a custom granular synthesiser built in Max/MSP. [1]