Electronic music is filled with grids and repeating loops. But get off that grid, and you can quickly wind up, well, floating in space. The challenge of marrying music that’s pre-sequenced with music that can generate itself, between self-evolving music and music that you can control live, is the challenge a lot of people are exploring right now. Hans Kuder has been sharing a promising-looking project on the CDM forums, built in the code-sketching tool Processing (site | CDMu | CDMo). The idea: explore nodes live and let your sequences float free on the screen.

Hans writes:

tiction – early prototype 1 from Hans Kuder on Vimeo.

tiction is a sequencing / performance application that tries to bridge generative music with live improvisation. With it you can create looping (or one-shot) sequences whose pitch and controller values change based on screen position. When a node fires its event, subtle or not-so-subtle physical interactions take place, giving life to the system.

Tiction v0.1 is now available as a free download for Mac, Windows, and Linux. I’ll be adding updates over the next couple weeks, but most of the useful features are already in place.

This is just a graphical interface; actual sound happens elsewhere, via MIDI. (Hans includes instructions for inter-app MIDI on Mac. On Windows, you should try MIDI-Yoke or Hubi’s MIDI Loopback.)

The video above is slightly older than the release you get, so there’s an extra reason to go grab it.

Free software + code + description/instructions for Mac, Windows, Linux. Version 0.1; expecting more soon!

Tiction @ Tink Thank Software

Before someone else says it, no, the idea here isn’t entirely new. It’s especially reminiscent of the work done by Toshio Iwai, best known recently for his Tenori-On hardware and ElectroPlankton DS software, who had experimented with similar interfaces — though generally minus some of the physics here. But then, we got a lot of mileage out of simple step sequencers, and they’ve evolved a lot. It’ll be interesting to see what new interfaces people can cook up.

Those of you Processing users, one tip. Hans is using the ProMIDI Java library, but there’s a better library evolving called RWMidi from our friends over at Ruin & Wesen, plus a driver that will fix problems with MIDI support and Java on some Macs — check out OSXMidiSPI for OS X (direct download).

Brilliant work, Hans! Readers with feedback, please pipe up since Hans asked for it; otherwise, I’ll be interested to see how this evolves!

One more video:

tiction – early prototype 2 from Hans Kuder on Vimeo.

  • http://www.friendlyskies.net Marc

    Gwaaaaa, that's so cool! He picked an appropriate instrument to demo it with, too…

    BTW, I think they use a similar system to control traffic lights where I live ;-)

  • http://myspace.com/drvinay vinayk

    That is way cool! Just needs some small things like undo, save/load – and it will be sweet. I really love the simplicity of making sounds with this sort of thing.

    Now to just port it to iPhone and have it sensitive to the iPhone accelerometer =P

    Does it work well on Windows? seems like cool thing to put onto one of those new Dell Netbooks, hook up to reaktor and make music with just a mouse!

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Should work perfectly well with Windows. Actually, if someone has loopback advice, I'm all ears; was having a wee bit of trouble with Pd and MIDI-Yoke, though usually MIDI-Yoke is rock solid for me.

    @Marc: ha!

  • http://www.tinkthank.net Hans Kuder

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Yep, save, load, and undo are at the top of the list for what I'll be adding next – along with a better MIDI library. proMIDI doesn't handle note off messages very well, so I appreciate the pointer to RWMidi, Peter.

    Windows and Linux versions are up on the download page along with the Mac version I've been running on my machine – if anyone can test this on those other two platforms, I'd be grateful for the results.

  • endekks

    Beautiful & elegant.

  • BirdFLU

    Very nice! Sometimes simple is better and more interesting and I think that's teh case here. I've only just started playing with it and it's very fun.

    My two cents: User-selectable colors for the nodes and connections. And user-selectable scales.

    But it's really great as it is. Thanks for sharing this.

  • http://www.tinkthank.net Hans Kuder

    BirdFLU:

    Press 'p' to show a list of the 16 MIDI pitches that Tiction will use. It's set to two octaves of a CMaj scale by default, but you can adjust each box to change the pitch associated with a screen region.

  • Anton

    I can't launch it on macbook under tiger.

  • Jackson

    It doesn't seem to launch on my 1st gen macbook running 10.5.5 either. Tiction shows up in the menu bar, along with a light gray window. I took a screenshot of the console messages on launch if that helps. I'm not sure if it's something I have installled on my end or what.

    Console on Tiction Launch

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    It looks like it's not properly catching the exception when trying to create a MIDI port. Did you guys install the driver I mentioned above for Mac? Apple ceased supporting MIDI in Java, so you DO need to follow these install directions correctly — they're in the archive:
    http://ruinwesen.com/support-files/osxmidispi-0.1

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Oh, speaking of which, Hans — which MIDI SPI are you using, Mandolane?

  • http://www.myspace.com/nayseven nay-seven

    really cool soft , just to let you know that it works fine under vista sp1….

  • Martin

    Hi,

    sadly i get a grey screen too though i have installed the driver from Ruin&Wesen.

    However, your app looks great, curious how it will work :)

  • 4lefts

    works fine on G4 with OSX.4.11. lovely piece of software – i'll be keeping an eye on where it goes.

    i'm getting some hanging notes though – i'm guessing it's to do with note-offs not being sent properly?

    are you doing donations? i'd fling some wingwangs your way for this.

  • fiz

    Fun.

  • http://www.tinkthank.net Hans Kuder

    Thanks, 4lefts. I've been meaning to put up a Paypal donation link on the Tiction page and just added it now. I appreciate it!

    It looks like all problems people have been having with Tiction not starting up can be traced back to proMIDI – which uses Mandalone. I'm working on changing over to RWMidi right now, which should fix all of that.

  • http://www.roaldblijleven.net rhowaldt

    from what i can see, it's not possible to assign each individual 'loop' or structure to a MIDI-out port. i would like to do that so it would be possible for me to control a Reason setup with multiple instruments with this software. or should i be using different instances of the software to do this? if so, would it be possible to create this option?

    or is there maybe another (preferable free) piece of software with which i can accomplish something like that?

    Thanks!

  • dead_red_eyes

    Great to see that you've given Hans the spotlight with this Peter! I'm really looking forward to the new updates Hans, keep up the good work!

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @rhowaldt: That should definitely be possible. As for additional operations on MIDI messages, I'd look at tools like MIDI-OX (PC), MIDI Translator (Win/Mac), MidiPipe (Mac) as they'd be useful anyway. But that's be academic to adjust in the actual Processing code here…

  • Jackson

    Tried installing osxmidispi and seems to still not be starting up. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for updates. This app looks amazing, keep up the good work, Hans.

  • Martin

    @ Hans Kuder

    i could get it to work. Tiction doesn´t start up proerly as long as there´s no IAC Port generated.

    Since i did this it starts up just fine. I also tried to start it without the additional libs and drivers from ruin&wesen and it perfectly worked.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Ah, okay, that makes sense, too. So, folks if you *don't* have your IAC port enabled on Mac OS, it won't work! (And if you don't know, that probably mean it's not — it's off by default.)

    Hans posted good directions on how to do this on his site.

  • http://www.tinkthank.net Hans Kuder

    Version 0.2 is now up!

    -Switched to RWMidi. This should fix almost all startup problems.

    -Added a button to copy the selected node's MIDI channel to all other nodes in its group.

    http://www.tinkthank.net/software/tiction

    OK, I'm going outside now.

  • fiz

    After playing with this all day, it seems like this could easily become its own visualizer. I'd love to be able to toggle off the connecting lines and just see the nodes floating around… This is just so much fun to use.

  • Jackson

    Downloaded the update and it works perfectly. Thanks! I see myself spending Sunday afternoon in front of the computer now. I love all this stuff people are doing with processing now, keep up the good work CDM.

  • http://myspace.com/drvinay vinayk

    Hey Hans,

    This new version doesnt seem to recognise any MIDI buses – I just checked version 0.1 still does.

    Vinay

  • scott

    This is extremely cool!

    One feature i'd love to see is modifiable behaviors for the edges of the window — attract, repel, bounce, wrap, etc. (In certain configurations, nodes seem to have a tendency to get stuck in a corner)

    Also a key command for MIDI reset would be helpful, as i've had some stuck notes (may be my fault for changing patches while the sequencer is running?)

    Thanks so much for this excellent app, Hans, & keep up the good work!

  • http://www.3amnoise.net/runagate/services.html runagate

    Thanks, Hans, I can't wait to try it.

    Breathtaking node behavior!

    My hope is to transform the note values into interpolated midi CCs in Usine to morph VST parameter values (delay time, filter cutoff, grain length, etc.)

    Those videos are truly inspiring.

  • http://myspace.com/drvinay vinayk

    Sorry I should say that MIDI busses aren't working for me in osx 10.5.4 – i've installed the midi library too.. wierd

  • aaron

    How could you miss in your review that the principal ideas in the application are almost identical to reacTable? You mention the Tenori-on and Electroplankton as being similar (which really aren't.. it's closer to the Kaosspads even) but no mention of reacTable that is almost identical in function?

    Anyways, i've been expecting more apps like this for quite awhile.. nice to see Tiction coming along.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Actually, I believe that Toshio Iwai was one of the first to start using these physics-based nodes bouncing events back and forth in the 90s. (I mention ElectroPlankton and Tenori-On as that's the iteration most people are likely to have seen, not the earlier installations which use the idea more directly.) I also don't think he was alone. But reacTable was fairly late on this scene in that regard; I think it's how effective they made the tangible interface, the way things were connected to actual objects on the table, the quality of the software, and details like visualizing waveforms that were so important on reacTable.

    Also, to me the major point of reacTable was using nodes for synthesis, not events so much, at least in the (in-person) performance I saw with it. That is, the connections between nodes were more about timbre than about sequencing. Happy to be corrected, though.

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  • Michalis

    Trying to run this on xp. The sequencer won't start running, and it doesn't seem to be connecting to midi. Any ideas?

  • Mark

    Anyone able to route the midi into Ableton Live on OSX?

    I'm trying but it doesn't work for some reason.

    Installed the Java-externals and everything.

  • Mark

    Got it working already… sorry.

  • http://www.tinkthank.net Hans Kuder

    Hi everyone,

    I appreciate all the comments and feedback I've been getting about this. If you have a specific feature request or bug, would you please post it on the Tiction download page or email it to me? This will help me keep things organized as I keep moving forward.

    Thanks!

  • http://audiocookbook.org Keston

    Nice one, Hans! If anyone would like to hear fifty seconds or so of audio produced with Tiction and various VSTs, checkout this example on AudioCookbook.org:

    http://audiocookbook.org/one-sound-every-day/soun

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  • Jaime Munarriz

    I think the idea of using moving circles connected by lines, serving as communication lines and trigering events is really imposing as a new paradigm in music live interfaces!

    Nodes can be dumb or reacting creatures, end you can move them or alter the environment…

    I have a similar project done with Processing an PureData (connected by OSC), used for trigering percusive rythms. It's not yet on the net, but you can see similar projects on:
    http://tagmagic.wordpress.com/

  • http://sixteensteps.com qu.one

    brilliant. my favorite generator so far.

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  • Dylan Kinnett

    Is Tiction gone? The link to its site is broken and there’s no sign of it anywhere.