Sonaur is a US$1.99 ambient toy for Android mobile devices, with on-screen creatures you can manipulate to generate sound. It’s notable not only for being a fun toy – and on a platform that hasn’t had as many fun toys – but because the tools used to create it are also highly accessible and free.
I’ve taught Processing, a code environment popular among artists and designers to people who never before imagined they could be coders. Pd (Pure Data), here in the form of libpd, is a free graphical patching cousin of Max/MSP. You can check out libpd, which allows Pd to run on Android, at our Pd Everywhere group.
Developer Miles describes the app thusly:
I wanted to create an app that lay somewhere between an ecosystem and a musical instrument. The hope is that sonaur requires less attention both, and still provides a reasonable amount of intrigue.
Sonaur contains three distinct lifeforms. You can interact with them individually, or together; creating new sounds and visual patterns for your enjoyment.
I was also curious if he had advice for people exploring this area.
Miles tells us that he found making both the art and sound generative – rather than pre-drawn and pre-recorded – made a big difference. He also suggests reading Andy Farnell’s book Designing Sound (now on MIT Press) as a way of learning both Pd and sound design, saying it “helped me a lot to create the sound of the flying insects.” Another tip: using vectors and not hard-coded pixel values makes your work adaptable to different devices. And, “Matt Pearson’s book Generative Art talks a lot about this but I’ve found too that randomness is great in controlled amounts.” I couldn’t agree more.
It’s really great work, Miles. And by the way, readers should never be ashamed of plugging their work, individual or group, free or for-sale. We love hearing about it, even if we can’t cover it all.
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Also on Creative Applications Network, run by our friend Filip, which covers all sorts of these kinds of creations.