Software News

Generative nodal rhythms and melody in Max/MSP

Sunday, November 30th, 2008 | Building Things, Forester, Max/MSP, Software News | 2 Comments

I seem to be having a very intense Max/MSP week. Last night I was thinking about interesting ways of generating rhythm. In particular how to create structures which balance recognisable loops with random choices. Saw a really interesting page of flash design pieces which gave me the idea of using a nodal structure with one sound mapped to each node. 

In the first incarnation of my software (shown in the video above) the nodes fire out midi messages when they are hit by the red marker. The midi messages go to Logic Audio and play specific samples in a soft-sampler. The connections between nodes are created automatically. The rules are very simple. The marker must move on every beat (a regular pulse) it may only move to another node to which it is connected. The connections are directional so if the connection goes A to B the marker cannot move B to A unless another connection is made in that direction. If a node is connected to more than one node a random choice of the available targets is made. As the video progresses I randomly add more connections which increases the number of patterns available.

The Video below shows a later development of the software where the node locations are positioned by hand. Connections between them are also made by hand. The rules remain the same. In this example there are two discrete systems with two markers. As the video progresses the systems are linked. Again the nodes trigger midi messages which this time trigger piano note samples. I built in probability to this version so fore example you can connect A to B three times and A to C once. Which would make A to B three times more likely to occur than A to C. The connections with stronger pink lines have stronger probabilities. Note that some of the nodes are ‘rest’ nodes and produce no sound.

The output from these systems can become a little monotonous after a while due to the lack of volume dynamics and the regular pulse. All the same I’m very pleased with my days work. I’m hoping to be able to build some of these ideas into the new version of Forester…

Hope you enjoy,

Leafcutter John x.

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Branching LSystems in Max/MSP

Saturday, November 29th, 2008 | Building Things, Forester, LSystem, Max/MSP, Software News | 3 Comments

I had a little more time to work on LSystems today and I’ve managed to get simple branching to work. I also discovered that Jitter has its own LSystem object – I’m going to continue to make my own system as I’m still trying to figure out a few things. Here are the first branching images.

More soon,

Leafcutter John x.

LSystems in Max/MSP

Saturday, November 29th, 2008 | Building Things, Forester, LSystem, Max/MSP, Software News | 3 Comments

I recently came upon this page which talks about generative design and the demoscene which both try and create media dynamically by giving (fairly) simple rules for reproduction. There is an excellent video of Brian Eno and Will Wright talk about generative forms and the idea of creating complexity from simple rule-sets. I was very inspired by this idea as it could potentially be of a lot of use to computer musicians. 

I don’t have time right now to go into how LSystems work but they can produce a wide verity of outcomes which often look like they could be found in nature. The LSystem tree is a classic example of This. (the tree pictured is not my own but it is created by an L system).  

I managed to make a simple LSystem patch in Max/MSP and all the images above were made with it (click then click again for full size). I’ll go into more detail in future but all images are created from very simple rules such as: ‘F = F F + B’ which are iterated many times to produce the output. The images produced exhibit complexity far beyond what you might expect from such simple input. I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to make trees and I’m curious to see if there is an interesting way of generating Music by mapping the branching and self-similar structures.

I’m interested in hearing from you if you know about this kind of thing!

All the best,

Leafcutter John


Forester II Some interface ideas.

Friday, October 31st, 2008 | Forester, Software News | No Comments

I’ve been working away on some interface ideas for Forester II recently. I’m still trying to finalise how the thing will work but i’m pretty sure that i’m going to ditch the round trees in favor of rectangular areas because they will allow some interesting tracking/sound mapping options. I (and you, judging by your comments) want Forester II to be more controllable so i’m making the sound areas editable, I’ve even made a snap to grid option for those of you who like there forests nice and tidy. To retain some of the magic of the original Forester I’m planning to program in lot’s of surprising interventions which might only happen once every hour or so.

Again i’m using Max/MSP (4.6.3) to program the software, The drawing is done in Max’s LCD object. Hope you’ll enjoy this little teaser.


Leafcutter John.

Forester Goes it Alone in the US!

Friday, September 19th, 2008 | Forester, Software News | No Comments

 Well the time has come, Forester is all grown up and has started making radio appearances without me. If you live in the US you probably all ready know Electronic Musician magazine. Personally I’ve never seen it but huge respect to Len Sasso for trying to explain Forester on the radio. I’ve snipped the relevant part from the whole broadcast which originally broadcast June 18th 2008.

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you can hear the whole broadcast here

ta ta for now,

Leafcutter John.

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