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 …

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Depressing Project of the Day: Stock Market, Set to Music with Microsoft Songsmith

I’ve been talking to folks about sonifying or music-i-fying data a lot lately; I even created a soothing, gamelan-like melody from my Gmail spam folder at South by Southwest last spring. But this particular example is, well … special. I hesitate to share this, because a) YouTube numbers suggest you may have seen it already and b) it’s pretty depressing. On the other hand, it’s not like the fact the economy is depressing is news, exactly, so I suggest we employ the time-tested coping method that is laughter. Thanks (?) to Paul Norheim for this. It also suggests a pleasing …

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Velato: What if Musical Notes Had Their Own Programming Language?

Photo (CC) Quinn Dombrowski. Composing music is not unlike programming – and either, at their best, can be expressive. In the early days of IT (before “IT” was even a term), many computer programmers came from a musical background. (And even early in the computer age, there was more call for software than symphonies – and more pay.) But what if you could program music easily, using musical syntax in a programming language? That’s the question asked by languages like Velato. The commands actually aren’t as esoteric as you might expect; they include references to standard pitch and commands like …

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Intermorphic Mixtikl Arrives: Mobile and Desktop Generative, Creative Music Suite

Oh, yeah. It’s deep. To keep a cool head, perhaps put on "Music for Airports" on loop while you read through the tutorials. Musicians and composers have long dreamt of computers and mobiles playing music that changes on its own, rather than playing static, pre-determined scores. But to actually pull it off, you need a number of pieces. One solution for putting those pieces together is finally here, with desktop-to-mobile delivery and an interesting combination of a generative engine with synths and effects that can work in real time. We’ve been following the work of Intermorphic for some time: this …

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