Brian Eno Back to Ambient Roots, in iPad App with Peter Chilvers, Upcoming Album

Brian Eno’s influence on music, particularly music termed “ambient,” is such that it might itself blend into the background. But make no mistake, work like Music for Films and Music for Airports has left an indelible impression on the sound of a lot of music, and moreover in how we think about sound and structure. A newly-announced album on Warp promises to return to the long-form, expansive compositional ideas of those works, in a 75-minute opus called LUX. (More on that at bottom, though we can’t hear it yet.) But perhaps it’s even more appropriate to look at Eno’s work …


csGrain Gets Granular Goodness on iPad 2/3; Vanguard of Multi-Platform Csound Renaissance

Technology may be about the next Big New Thing, but as with music making in general, making music with tech is for many of us a lifetime vocation. So, it’s welcome news to find that time-tested tools, maturing over decades rather than months, are enjoying greater use than ever before. We saw Pure Data (Pd) attracting new interest as the embeddable libpd version allows use in a range of development environments and mobile platforms. Now, it’s about to be Csound’s turn. Of course, before we get to that, if you’ve got an iPad 2 or “3” (aka “the new iPad”), …


Making Digital One-of-a-Kind: Inside Icarus’ Generative Album in 1000 Variations

Even the artwork changes. This is my personal copy – #148. Digital: disposable, identical, infinitely reproducible. Recordings: static, unchanging. Or … are they? Icarus’ Fake Fish Distribution (FFD), a self-described “album in 1000 variations,” generates a one-of-a-kind download for each purchaser. Generative, parametric software takes the composition, by London-based musicians-slash-software engineers Ollie Bown and Sam Britton, and tailors the output so that each file is distinct. If you’re the 437th purchaser of the limited-run of 1000, in other words, you get a composition that is different from 436 before you and 438 after you. The process breaks two commonly-understood notions …


Entire Musical Compositions Made from Just One Line of Code are Glitchy but Musical

You know you’re in for something different with an article that contains this line: “as 256 bytes is becoming the new 4K, there has been ever more need to play decent music in the 256-byte size class. ” In just a single line of code, Finnish artist and coder countercomplex, working with other contributors, is creating “bitwise creations in a pre-apocalyptic world.” What’s stunning is to listen to the results, even if you have trouble following the code – the results are complex and organic, glitchy but with compositional direction, as though the machine itself had learned to compose in …


Generative Ambient Event Bots, Free in Ableton + Max for Live

Composing with rules instead of playing notes directly, composer Richard Garrett has built a series of generative, algorithmic, ambient note makers and processors in Ableton Live and the Max for Live add-on. (And yes, user-generated content continues to be a rationale for why many people would purchase Max for Live in addition to Live itself.) With loads of useful controls for duration, start, and voicing – and the ability to feed events into anything you like – the results in your own work could sound very different than what you see hear. But whatever your musical aspirations, you can check …


With Networks of Notes, Nodal Generates Music: Updated Mac+Windows App Now Adds MIDI

What makes music software popular? Simple recording, DJ, and remix apps unsurprisingly do well. But perhaps as a testament to the importance of individual music expression, some stranger entries do, too. And those less-typical software creations can give you new ways of exploring music creation and performance. Just take Nodal. GarageBand sits comfortably at the top of the sellers list on Apple’s App Store. But, at least briefly, a generative composition tool has rocketed to second place. Nodal 1.7, available for both Mac and Windows, is unlike most music production tools. In place of linear track arrangement, clusters of graphical …


Turn Your Generative Radio On: Live Stream Made from Pure Data Patches

Radio from the past, meet radio from the future. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Nic McPhee. Tired of top 40 hits? Pooped on podcasts? Sapped on streams? What if your radio could generative music that was never-before — and never-again — heard, all from dynamic, algorithmic software? PatchWork Radio does that with Pd patches. It’s not a new idea, but the radio station here, at least, is modular – not just one patch but any number of patches can be transformed into radio, thanks to some Python scripting. Creator David Guy John notes: I’ve recently just started up an internet radio station using …


Squeaky Shoe Core: Feel Good, Generative Acid Music, Free Patches

Sneaks are a good thing. Photo (CC-BY) Pink Sherbet Photography / D. Sharon Pruitt. Let’s start with what’s really important: Chris McCormick’s squeakyshoecore tunes may well make you tap your All Stars and smile. The words “algorithmically-generated acid” and mention of the multimedia patching environment Pd might not suggest feel-goody, cheery, geeky-sounding electronic grooves, but that’s exactly what’s come out. These robots know what they’re doing. And yes, even a tune named after Chris’ favorite fractal can be good summer fun. Behind the scenes, Chris’ music is produced generatively using algorithms created in the free and open source visual patching …


Connect the Bots: Black Allegheny, An Entire Album Made by Algorithmic Swarms

Swarm Music Album Black Allegheny from Evan Merz on Vimeo. We’ve heard albums made by singular compositional minds and by bands. What would an album sound like if composed by swarm intelligence, by computer evolutionary models of individual agents or bots? That’s the question asked by composer Evan Merz in his new, full-length album “Black Allegheny.” (At top: the composer explains in a video.) Western musical and creative tradition is steeped in linearity, from the forward motion of the music staff to the mythos of Aristotle’s Poetics. So, maybe it’s little wonder that generative music – music that may not …


Making Music with Fractals

Photo: Lara Sobel plays with naturally-synthesized fractals by burning into wood via high voltage. Fractals, those wacky self-similar, rough geometries that resemble so many patterns in nature, were once all the rage. Ravers and digital artists embraced them, only to get bored with them, apparently. To billions of years of evolution and natural phenomena, they’re still cool. And to me, there’s still plenty to talk about when it comes to thinking how fractals might be all the rage. Composer Terran Olson, a musician with a long resume that includes work with the Ives Quartet and Quartet San Francisco, takes on …