Algorithmic dance music generation

Nick Collins

His laptop is signed by Stockhausen.

He wrote a techno generator 10 years ago, which was silly. So he’s trying it again, but with synthpop. The new project is called Infno.

When you press play, you want something that’s different every time in a significant way. (This sounds like old school video game music.)

Whoah, it really is different everytime! Still video-gamey, though. This has garnered applause from the audience.

The lines all know about each other and share data. The order of generation matters.

This is really cool.

Also, he has the idea of generative karaoke! Ooh, now there is audience participation. More applause.

This is the coolest thing ever.

There is a computer-written pop song from 1956. Kako will be singing the lyrics from that song. The melody here is not known in advance.

This sounds like jpop. Also like drunken karaoke. Wow, a lovely disaster. I am in love with everything about this. The singer is muddling through. Wow, now she’s getting it, sorta.

Applause and cheering.

Now he’s playing techno.

More applause.

Algorithmic lyric generation is next!

A paper will be forthcoming.

Loris: a supercollider implementation

Scott Wilson

Loris is an additive sound modelling method.

A sines plus noise approach. Noise is assigned to partials, modulating partials with a filtered noise source. This is a lossy process but is perceptually accurate.

Loris is a class library which can do some interesting things with partials. The python api is very good.

Data is exportable in several formats. Spear, a piece of free software, is nice for editing some of these file types. Also the command line tools are good.

Loris was not developed for real time use. It’s not fast to compute this kind of analysis. Sometimes, you must change params to get a good analysis, which can be a problem for real time. Also, in real time might not want to listen to every partial, but that’s also computationally expensive.

Analysis yields a partial list with envelopes for freq, amp, bandwidth, phase, etc.

Scott sticks analysis results in an sc object. There are 4 classes. Some ugens, data-holding classes, an oscillator.

The oscillator does all the partials. Can do some spectral difusion.

Can stretch stuff, mess with bandwidth, do funny things with different partials to move them around. This may work with prevois topic.

New release forthcoming. This is cool.

Dissonance curves

Jaaun Sebastian Lach

Roughness or beating is equal to hz difference betwwen two sounds. Has to do with physical properties of the ear and the critical bandwidth- which is the width of hearing of discrete sounds. You can only hear one sine wave per critical bandwidth. The bark scale climbs the critical band.

Disonance is perceived from bark scale and also cultural factors. Bark scale also applies to partials and overtones. Helmholtz held that acceptable amounts of roughness are cultural.

This speaker has a Disonance class, which looks to be very interesting. Also has method barkToHerz

Tenney thought that consonance and dissonance meant diferent things in different contexts. The terms have a functiona; usage depending on how music is composed: hisorical systems.

Barlow has some fancy-sounding theories. He imagines a consonance-disonance axis.

The Dissonance class can be used to derive scales. I must have this class!!

Sethares holds that tunings are related to timbres of instruments. Scales are derived according to roughness of partials present in the instruments used.

Computer composers can use a tmbral grammar. The presenter has some real-time analysis. He’s been doing this stuff while i’ve been navel gazing about it. Awesome.

Sc symposium

Jason Dixon – controlling group laptop improvisation

Problems often stem from performers not listening to each other. Huge cacophony of noise, competitive, lost players. Then things drag on much too long. There is a sameness. People don’t look at each other and miss cues. Also, lack of visual element. Entire frequenc spectrum used by every player makes it impossible to pick out lnes or anything.

Sonic example 1: improv gone wrong (have any of us here not heard this at least once?) And the example does indeed sound like a whole lotta noise.

Keys to success: force people to play qiuetly. Small amps, speakers located very close to the performers.

Alain Renaud developed a good system: The Frequencyliator

Frequency spectrum divided among players, like instruments. Filters used to enforce this!

Presenter has an idea for a genetic algorithm to instruct players.

Live!! From the supercollider symposium


Cadavre ezquisite!

Need to grab my mac!

Site gets slow when everbody in the room tries to download from it.

Public class send actual code across the network. Yikes. There’s a message called ‘avoid the worst’ which keeps folks from executing unix commands. Sorta.

It’s polite in gamelan to not play on each other’s beats, so speed changes are lagged. This clock system sort of models that.

There is a collective class that discovers folks and keeps track of their ip addresed. Broadcasting makes this possible, i think.

Sc con live blogging


Thom & Voldemars present about sonic quantums.

How do you deal with many, many control parameters?  Understanding, controlling, but not being able to touch them individually.

1 method is parameter reduction. However, they seek to be as direct as possible.

They have a matrix at the center of their system. Which deals with all their data. A multidemensonal data structre.

They have a visual representation. (How do they pick parameters  and adjust them?)

The matrix projection has 3d clouds that look sorta chaos based. These clouds can rotate, move along, expand and contract. Also can warp from a plane to a surface. 

They use things like speed of movement as control values for things like amplitude. The matrix may relate to spatialization? They are not using statistical controls for their grains. Makes parameters and relationshps clear. This gui is built in gtk, not supercollider.

They will use this as an installation. Now working on trajectory mapping, maybe with envelopes. The visualization is done in jitter.

They worked on a controller at steim, but then moved to mathematical controls.

Oops, it IS statistical. Oh, and they do use randomness and parameter reduction. I’m confused, except that there are white dots forming 3d states swooping around on the screen. Woosh! Swoop!

They are not sharing their code as of yet. Too shy.

Live bloggig the supercollider symposium


GUIs for live improv

Musical software imimitating physical instruments is silly.  Screens are 2d, so interfaces should be 2d.

sound scratcher tool allows some mousy ways to modify sound file playback with loopongs, granulation, scratching, etc. X,y axis is file selection and pitch.

Live  patching. Predators is awesome game-like algorithmic players which can have live coding synths and other aspects. Many playful, expressive, imaginative interfaces. Polyrhythm player.

Very interesting environment. Also suggests evolutionary strategies for algorithnic composition.

Organ Concert Review

The Organ
The Grote Kerk in The Hague is having an organ festival right now, which explains why I keep hearing organ music while walking the dog. Last night, I saw a very small flyer for it posted to the church door and decided to check it out. I really like organ concerts and I can name one organ composer off the top of my head (Henry Brant), but I’ve never written for the organ and don’t know too much about the instrument. As a former resident of the Bay Area, though, I was pretty lucky as there are two Mighty Wurlitzer organs installed in local movie theatres. One is in the Grand Lake in Oakland and the other is in the Castro. Also, Wesleyan University, where I was in 2003-5, has a pretty nifty organ which was brand new when I was a student, so I got to hear a lot of organ music, including a new piece by Christian Wolff. This whole paragraph is a long way of saying: I don’t know much about the organ (factoid: invented by ancient Romans), but I dig it.

The performer last night was Leo Van Doeselaar of Amsterdam / Leiden. There was a pre-concert talk of which I understood nothing and then he went up to the organ loft to play. Church organs are often located in the back of churches, which is the case in Den Haag’s Grote Kerk or sometimes on the side. Almost never does a listener actually face the organ (Wesleyan is an exception to this). However, the chairs were arranged, so the audience sat facing the back of the church and hence the organ. Also, it’s often the case that the organist can’t be seen. They had set up a screen and a projector so that there was a camera pointing at the organist and the image was projected where we could see it. Kind of strange, but also interesting.
This particular organ has two panels of stops on either side of three manuals (keyboards). the stops control which pipes are getting air in them and they’re a bunch of knobs which can be pulled out or in (hence the expression, “pulling out all the stops.”). The organist had an assistant who was a page turner, but also did a lot of stop manipulation. The music would switch manuals without a break and while one manual was being played, the busy assistant would re-set the stops for the return to the original manual. Interesting to watch.
The first two pieces were from the 17th century. Which, alas, is not my favorite century. Also, note in the first paragraph that most of my organ listening has been with theatre organs, which often play a more popular repertoire. So the music just seemed kind of . . . sedate. The organ was not punching through and not filling the space. I could see the performer and I could tell he was playing is heart out, but it just wasn’t translating for me. So I wondered if it was the music or the organ. “Well, they can’t all be Bach’s Toccata in d.” (You know the piece. It’s a very dramatic and cliche organ piece. Nicole associates it with horror movies.)
Even as my mind wandered, certain sonic effects were occasionally interesting and I wondered if I might want to exploit them by writing an organ piece. (Well, why not?) Then, the organist started on the third piece, Gioco by Peter-Jan Wagemans (wikipedia). I do not need to write an organ piece, as Wagemans used all the cool bits that I had noticed and several I hadn’t. The piece was astoundingly amazing. The composer is an organist himself, so he is able to write as somebody who really, really knows the instrument. And as he’s a local guy, it’s very well-suited to the sort of organ they tend to have in Holland. It played off the reverb in the cathedral very well, using short notes played quickly to create textures. There was a section where a certain flourish was repeated a few times and each time there was a note repeated afterwards like an echo. The stops for that note were really mushy sounding, not cutting through at all, so it was hard to tell when it started and stopped. It was more of a presence. And I swear, it sounded like a real echo. One that boldly defied physics: believable and slightly disorienting!
There was no clapping between pieces, but the audience was all abuzz after that one. Organists, take note: you can make people very happy if you depart from the 17th century. There are composers alive today and some of their work is amazing.
Then, alas, we returned to the dusty past. But, much to my delight, the last piece actually was Bach’s Toccata in d. Man, I love that piece. It’s great. So unapologetically dramatic! And it’s got these huge parts that should just, imo, shake the fillings out of your teeth. There’s a piece for an organ, something that fills a space! A gigantic installed behemoth, an ancient roman excess! Crashing and pounding like the ocean! Huge! but. It just wasn’t. Ok sure, it was dramatic. And it had a couple of moments that were kind of big. but. Maybe I’ve been conditioned by Mighty Wurlitzers to expect something too big, too much. Maybe what I expect is gauche and ostentatious and not what Bach had in mind at all. Maybe I’m crass. But crass is great fun but this was restrained and smallish.
I think the organ is just too small. It’s also kind of recessed, which can’t help.
I also think that I just must be crass, because the audience gave the organist a standing ovation and then rushed to the CD table. I do think he was a really good performer (especially the new piece was fantastic), so maybe they’re used to the organ and I’m not? I’m probably going to skip the rest of the series, however it also includes carillon recitals (no wonder the bells have been so interesting lately), so I will definitely listen for those.

Pills on saturday

Not so hypothetically speaking, if you realized late on a friday night that you were dangerously short of zoloft and you had to get at least a week’s worth the next day AND you were in The Hague, how could you make this happen?

(No, I did not neglect getting a refill until the very last possible second. I emailed my doctor a few days ago, but the reply was unhelpful and my counter reply went unanswered and then i forgot to go by today, damnit.)
The stupid thing is that I’ve explained to at least 4 health types that I want to stop taking zoloft. All of them told me not to yet. And you can’t just stop cold turkey because they cause withdrawl – but I don’t have enough left to a gradual taper off.
Can you walk into a pharmacy in France and get them? I suspect it’s possible, if you have a good story. I wonder if “oh my god, i forgot my pills” is a good story. “Mon Dieu! Ou est mon zoloft??!”


My pharmacist is teh awesome

Travelin’ / Upcoming Concerts

I will be playing in Berlin on May 18th at Zentrale Randlage as a part of a conference going that weekend. I’ll be playing tuba &/| laptop and Nick Fox-Gieg will be playing computer and doing visuals. It will be cool. Our part will only be about 12 minutes. I don’t know what time, yet or much else, really.

And I will be playing a short set of a larger “show and tell” concert in The Hague on May 24th. The venue is Verhulstpl 17. I don’t know what time yet. I’ll probably be playing some tape music, but might also do some live laptop.
I’m leaving Sunday to go to France for the Joan of Arc festival in Orleans. It turned out to be cheaper to buy something called an interrail pass instead of buying a ticket to Paris and another to Berlin. Theoretically, this means that I can go anywhere within commuting distance on the 21- 23 May or 25-27 May. Realistically, this means: Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France maybe Denmark. It would be nifty if I could play some music someplace, since my transit is already paid, but, yeah, it’s way last minute and I’m not sure who to contact.
Xena now has a very official looking pet passport. It’s a little blue booklet with a Netherlands flag and an EU flag on it. Getting citizenship in the Netherlands is so easy for dogs! she can legally travel all over the EU (except for England). I got her a trailer yesterday, so I can pull her around with a bike. The trailer doubles as a crate/ “pup” tent. (ha ha ha). I’m now looking for a human tent. The idea is that camping is cheaper than hotel rooms. The reality is not so clear however.
Long-time readers will recall that last summer, I was planning a bike trip, but got lyme disease and had to cancel it. This year, hopefully, I’ll avoid dread disease. Nicole, Xena and I will be heading out along the Loire, following the route of Jeanne d’Arc on the the anniversary of her having travelled that way. Except she got to ride a horse and not tow a dog. On the other hand, she was wearing armor and had the constant risk of death, so I think it will be more fun for me than it was for her.