Slowly but surely, the web audio API creeps toward being something that’s usable in more than one browser at a time. In the meantime, we get a glimpse of how generative music could be a part of what’s to come. It’s a long way from those horrid, looping audio files that plagued the Web in its heady 1990s adolescence.

Today on Create Digital Motion, I look at the aesthetics of crowd-sourcing in work by Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk – and how the view of the significance of the crowd has changed over time. Substitute “music” for “motion,” and you’ll get a similar argument about what crowds might do with sound.

With ‘This Exquisite Forest,’ Animations That Evolve, Collaboratively

But it’s worth noting the musical elements that form part of that experience. The tools are high-level, but thanks to the audio API and browser interactivity, it’s possible for users to shape the musical landscape that accompanies some of the animations. (You’ll only see the interface at top if you click an animation that has music; the others lack the tool.) In the behind-the-scenes videos, some of Google’s (and digital media’s) smartest discuss how the plumbing fit in with the art.

Also this week, our friend TheAlphaNerd has been building tools for generating your own keyboards in browser windows. Here, the applications are broad – you could build interactive learning tools for music theory and tuning, for instance, or a means for forum participants to communicate ideas through musical sketches and not just text. All the code is open source, so it’s a great place to start learning about how this stuff is done, trying some handy libraries that make your life easier, and perhaps experimenting with what online interfaces could be.

And good things are coming. (so, if you can dig in and help and make this happen…)

It’s getting to be about time to do a full review of how HTML5 and the Web are getting on with sound, but that will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, if you’ve seen compelling examples – or have questions from a development or user perspective – let us know.

  • Sam Greene

    Very cool!  

    I made a web interface for ableton live – he took some inspiration from my contraption for this :)

    • Myles Borins

       Sam.. you should check out the node.js node-osc library.  It makes it pretty simple to create both a osc server and client.  Combine that with and you can really quickly get buttons in a web app sending OSC messages on a local network

    • Sam Greene

      Looks great Myles – thanks for the heads up.  Congrats on your project, looking good.

  • Sam Greene  – looks like my post ran together there… “Perhaps he took some inspiration from my contraption for this”

  • Matt McLean

    Hi Myles I’m very excited about your work as I am currently working on an HTML music composition curriculum. I downloaded AutoMagicMusicMaker but am not having any luck opening any of the html files. Is there limited browser support?  I’m more musician than programmer so if you could point me to any step-step directions for embedding the piano in a web page that would be awesome. 
    Thank you!

    • Myles Borins

       Hey Matt…

      So I’m looking at the source, and my current master branch on github won’t exactly work the way things are set up because it depends on code that is included in a submodule (which will only work if you clone the github repository. 

      Let me take a bit to play with the folder structure and I’ll get back to you when the index file should work out of the box.

    • matt5834

      Hi Myles-
      Any update on this?