earlier experiments in generative music

These are the demos I made for an Able­ton device con­test before real­iz­ing we weren’t meant to pro­duce demos.

What you’ll hear here are snap­shots of a dynam­ic sys­tem. The real ver­sions come out dif­fer­ent­ly each time they’re played, much as the repeat­ing sec­tions here aren’t real­ly repeat­ing. These will be longer clips than usu­al, to demon­strate that variation.

The idea, of course, is not to cre­ate end­less loops like this, but to build a frame­work where the over­ly sim­ple source mate­r­i­al used here is replaced by live input from a real musician.

Again, they’re just exper­i­ments. Details are pro­vid­ed below each music player.

* * *

  • The var­i­ous pitched instru­ments are ran­dom­ly select­ing notes (with­in the same scale).
  • The drum part is one short loop, with many hits removed at ran­dom, and some of the remain­ing ones repeat­ed as ghost notes.
  • The low­er bell sounds are using the same tricks as the drums, with dif­fer­ent set­tings (and a sync’d delay to fill in gaps and give them some groove). They’re inspired by javanese gamelan
  • The brighter bell sounds ring longer and play less often, as a melod­ic ele­ment to tie things together

* * *

  • Rhythms are bro­ken up with sim­i­lar tricks as before
  • The bass part is actu­al­ly a stream of long steady notes, gat­ed against the drums to cre­ate the illu­sion that a live bass play­er and drum­mer have played a lot of shows together.
  • The scrib­bly notes (for lack of a bet­ter term) only plays with­in that same rhythm, but delayed by a beat.
  • The organ part fol­lows sim­i­lar rules to the bass, but sidechained against unheard elements

* * *

  • The pitch­es of a repeat­ing pat­tern are ran­dom­ized on the piano.
  • Drums and piano both drop notes at ran­dom, to vary the rhythm.
  • I might have over­done it on the fx
  • Heavy reverb fills the space where no drums are playing
  • The piano swaps between two audio chains when the drums are not play­ing. One ver­sion is rec­og­niz­able as the piano. The oth­er becomes the repeat­ing flute sounds you hear.

generative nonsense in C Major

Here’s a bunch of ran­dom notes. I estab­lished some rules for the vir­tu­al ensem­ble to fol­low, pressed play, and record­ed the results. Parts of it sound decent, but it isn’t very natural.

Here, I’ve mapped some effects con­trols, as well as the veloc­i­ty val­ues of each note, to a motion sen­sor. As I rotate it around, para­me­ters adjust accord­ing­ly. When I lunge at the screen, stab­by accents occur. It’s very satisfying.

Things sound more human, until they don’t.

And here, I forego the wacky repeat effects in favor of tem­po con­trol. Same basic con­trol par­a­digm, but the results should be more subtle.

EDIT: Just noticed my “thin out incom­ing notes” rou­tines weren’t work­ing on most of the instru­ments. Fixed now.

More to come, sure­ly. But I’m hap­py with the progress.

GTZ Hydra

GTZ Hydra is a MIDI rout­ing util­i­ty. It is cur­rent­ly only avail­able for Able­ton Live. 

There will be oth­er ver­sions (some day), includ­ing a basic hard­ware solu­tion, but their func­tion­al­i­ty may be cut down to meet the func­tion­al lim­its of those oth­er platforms.

The Able­ton ver­sion requires Live 8.1 or high­er, and the Max For Live add-on.

GTZ Hydra v1.11

Now. What the heck are we look­ing at? What does it do, and how can you use it?

Here’s the first part of that:

Expla­na­tion — Part 1 from GreaterThanZe­ro on Vimeo.

The “how can you use it” bit is up next. Watch this space.

my first monome video

Expla­na­tion Pend­ing from GreaterThanZe­ro on Vimeo.

Able­ton Live pro­vides a some­what non-lin­ear, mod­u­lar approach to cre­at­ing music. It’s pop­u­lar amongst DJs in par­tic­u­lar, and pro­duc­ers of hip-hop, but it has some great tools for my work­flow as well.

Max/MSP/Jitter is a visu­al script­ing lan­guage which cre­ates and manip­u­lates audio and video. It’s tra­di­tion­al­ly been pop­u­lar in exper­i­men­tal avant garde cir­cles, but a new gen­er­a­tion of elec­tron­ic musi­cians have adopt­ed it, thanks in part to the monome.

The monome is a grid of but­tons that light up, allow­ing you to tan­gi­bly manip­u­late any idea that can be expressed in a two-dimen­sion­al grid over time. It’s min­i­mal­ist in design, and open-end­ed in func­tion. This makes it an ide­al inter­face for some­thing as open-end­ed as Max/MSP/Jitter, and in many cas­es, the ide­al instru­ment for musi­cians who work with sam­ples. This cre­ates a strange over­lap in the user base, which makes their com­mu­ni­ty a fun place to be.

Recent­ly, these worlds have merged fur­ther with the release of Max for Live, which allow Max/MSP/Jitter devel­op­ers to re-imag­ine what Able­ton Live can be used for, and build new inter­faces inside it.

I’m involved pret­ty heav­i­ly in the monome com­mu­ni­ty, most­ly help­ing peo­ple with Max for Live. I’ve cre­at­ed some tools of my own in it, and sev­er­al of those are at work in this video.

Tech­ni­cal dis­cus­sion of those will be found here. At least in the­o­ry. Thus far, it’s just me in there.

(This hap­pens a lot when I post some­thing too far out­side of the norm. Does silence con­vey rev­er­ence, or pity? I’ve left the world dumbfounded.)