GTZ Habitrail

Until I come up with something better, the first tool mentioned here (in the first paragraph) is called “GTZ Habitrail”.

(the rest of that post describes a different project, which has a long way to go)

Habitrails, as I understand them, are a three dimensional maze that one creates for their pets to live in and explore. You don’t control with your pets directly, but their decisions are guided by the constraints you’ve set forth. So, it’s a different kind of interaction.

I’ve never had one, so I don’t know how accurate that is, but it does makes a nice metaphor to describe the tool.

Anyway, it came out much better than expected, and performs well within its intended parameters.

But more interesting, by cloning the MIDI source over several octaves, we get something close to a melodic instrument, reminiscent of the Suzuki Omnichord.

Here’s a quick experiment with that, mapped to an XY pad on my iPhone (via TouchOSC).

TouchOSC solo from GreaterThanZero on Vimeo.

The experiment was less about technology as psychology. I had the computer selecting chords in a random order, and I tried to create a melody that would lead you through them, despite the fact that I had no control over the progression, nor little idea where it was going. It’s an interesting exercise. It makes you stop thinking about specific notes, and concentrate more on the contours of your melodic line.

I think it actually becomes listenable at about the 2 minute mark, which is something I’m both proud of and horrified by.

After making that video, I spent the following weekend refining the controls. I built a version that drove three synthesizers independently, so you can jump between instruments in interlocking melodies, or let them harmonize. I recorded several takes on a demo, but despite these advancements, it just wasn’t as musical. These takes are now deleted.

I’m going to rethink and revisit that idea, and perhaps a new video will come out of that. Stay tuned.

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