Music sequencing as a Rubik’s Cube-style game, or hypnotic, kinetic rotating wheels – your piano roll won’t know what hit it. New musical art is set to be performed in Argentina, but you can download both tools, free.
Computer interfaces for music date back decades now, but with ingrained notions of hardware sound sequencers, linear media like tape, and hundreds of years of notation in staves and bars, old habits can be hard to kick. Yet it seems that suddenly, a younger generation of audiovisual composers is exploding notions of how musical interface and sequence could work, fully embracing a virtual space in which they themselves have come of age.
Next month’s spectacular-looking 404 Festival could make anyone want to book a flight to Argentina. Two highlighted artists from this festival for me really embody the possibilities of new sequencing metaphors. Both are built in Java.
At top, Cubie by Sadam Fujioka of Japan is free, downloadable software that combines audiovisual performance and game in a rotating cube.
Cubie is a software instrument which provides innovative idea of musical performance, differs from existing musical performance system such as musical notation, DJ systems, DAW systems, etc… It has a novel concept incorporating a new interactive technique based on puzzle games. Music is represented from highly saturated colored letters on a 3D cube. Almost unlimited number of melodies and rhythms can be created from a combination of those letters, and it can be changed on real-time by operations based on puzzle game. Those playful operations push a performer to play repeatedly and get the skill of performing with Cubie. Cubie is free software and you can play just like sadmb do.
More information in both Japanese and English at sadmb site (with lots of other software, as well). Built in Java with the use of JSyn for synthesis.
If these cubes feel overly rigid to you, though, and you don’t like the mechanical repetition of these lines, enter the crazy, spinning world of Hiroshi Matoba.
Overbug is a music-performance tool designed to compose Minimal and Dance Music.
Through looping and newly arranging sound patterns, called ‘Bugsounds’, the program creates complex, polyrhythmic sounds. Overbug differs from conventional linear controlled music sequencers, which arrange the sound into a linear timeline from left to right. In Overbug the sound arrangement of the repeating music loops is equal to the visual abstraction of circular actions which built the interface through circles.
I showed a very early sketch I was working on last year of a circle-based sequencer, also built in Processing, though (cough) my chops are nowhere near Hiroshi’s. I was more interested in using the circles to subdivide cycles, as in Indonesian music. Seeing this piece is a major kick in my pants to try to work on my project a bit more and go a different direction.
Here’s a demo video explaining how this works:
More information + free download (just updated this month):
If You’re in Argentina
These two works clearly belonged together, but I feel bad for not featuring any Latin American (or Argentinian, specifically) work — those of you associated with 404, if you’ve got hot tips, send them in.