Melodies Found in Barcodes, Then Shared, via iPhone

Strings of numbers are everywhere in our world, tucked just outside our awareness alongside identifiers like bar codes. Dutch media artist and inventor Leo van der Veen simply plucks that information and brings it to the fore. Barcodas is a barcode-scanning iPhone app that deciphers common EAN and UPC codes and translates them into musical patterns. Pick the scale you want, and out comes a melody. I’ve engaged in similar silliness myself, but in a sign of how handheld tech has changed, a project I did a few years back involved a USB scanner I purchased at an office supply …


Euclidean Rhythms in Ableton MIDI Clips for Polyrhythmic Good Times; Microtonal Operator

Ready to make your Ableton Live pattern programming a bit more polyrhythmic with the power of math? In Monday’s reflections and round-up of cycles and circles, I mentioned Euclidean evenness and Godfried Toussaint’s research. The basic idea is that a mathematical algorithm for spacing pulses has a lot in common with traditional preferences for polyrhythms spanning everything from rock hits to conga patterns and musical cultures around the world. Reader Tony Wheeler has turned those patterns into MIDI clips so you can drop patterns into Ableton Live. Drum patterns and dance music are obvious applications, but this could be an …


Circles and Euclidean Rhythms: Off the Grid, a Few Music Makers That Go Round and Round

Loopseque on the iPad. Courtesy the developer. We continue our 3.14 celebration with a round-up of circular logic. There’s no reason apart from the printed score to assume music has to be divided into grids laid on rectangles. Even the “piano roll” as a concept began as just that – a roll. Cycles the world around, from a mechanical clock to Indonesian gamelan, can be thought of in circles. Imagine an alternate universe in which Raymond Scott’s circle machine – a great, mechanical disc capable of sequencing sounds – became the dominant paradigm. We might have circles everywhere, in place …


Flickr Find: Harmonic Patterns on a Playground

Photo (CC-BY) Jan Tik. We celebrate 3.14, PI day, with some selections of mathematics, music, and visualization… Sometimes the results resemble scores, sometimes toys, and sometimes – more rarely – real musical instruments. But part of why I love computing as a window into music is its ability to visualize music’s mathematical beauty. I happened across this image from Flickr. It’s a chalk pattern on pavement for a children’s game (I’m not actually sure what game). But the math-compelled photographer found in it musical, harmonic intervals. I’ll have to sketch a little Processing and Pd design that plays with this …


Pythagoras, Upcoming iPad App, Recasts Frets to Make them More Harmonic

To celebrate what in the US we call 3.14 or PI day, today I’m offering stories that deal with mathematics and circles. First up, an app named for the great philosopher who is credited – even if perhaps ahistorically so – with finding that ratio and ratios in harmonies. Technology has long introduced innovations that make playing easier for specialists and non-specialists alike. Just ask anyone who plays an instrument like the guitar – frets, and the simplified notation that went with it, go back centuries as a means of allowing more people to make music. Developer Rob Fielding wants …


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 …


Turning Economics into Music: Sing Along with Philippines GDP

Click To Play Max/MSP visionary David Zicarelli is fond of saying that Max/MSP is really about numbers. You might hear music, but it’s number crunching that makes it all happen. Understand how to make the numbers work, and you can make your music and visuals do what you want. (Happily, this does not require a whole lot of math acuity, or I wouldn’t be able to do it. Instinct and imagination seem to be the best hallmark of Max masters.) Lest you believe numbers can’t really make music, though, there are always bizarre and unusual examples of sources for Max …


Hearing Like Humans Do: New Sonic Analysis Methods Clear Through Noise, Promise Better Music Software

Hearing over the din of noise is something that humans do a lot better than computers. A new mathematical technique promises to provide highly accurate models of sound, even with broadband noise in the picture. Why does this matter, aside from mathematical curiosity? For one, better sonic analysis could mean more realistic models of instruments and more flexible sound editing tools, inspiring a new generation of music software. From our friend kokorozashi: ‘In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Marcelo Magnasco, professor and head of the Mathematical Physics Laboratory at Rockefeller University, has published …


Simulating Phase Shifter Pedals in Software, Using Math for MIDI

In answer to my earlier question, yes, people are using circuit simulation software to develop music software. Chris Randall of the very cool plug-in development house Audio Damage writes us: We use SPICE when we’re modeling for Audio Damage products. We recreate the circuitry of whatever unit we’re modelling in order to better understand the signal flow; we also do some analysis using the SPICE model. (By “we” I mean Adam, of course. I sit in my office and play Rise Of Empires until he sends me a build to test.) To which I say — hey, Rise of Empires …