LSystems in Max/MSP

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

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


3 Comments to LSystems in Max/MSP

c. todd [phylum_sinter]
December 14, 2008

Hi John,

I’m not sure if it qualifies as an Lsystem, but i’ve had alot of fun using the flam3 algorithm used in fractal programs like Apophysis hacked and jammed into jitter modulating the visuals via midi parameters which are piped in via a vst wrapper. I have a patch set up to store a scene (which i can only render at about 64×64 to run at a decent speed without crashing everything) by which i render things like this later on in higher resolution, so they’re based on my songs in a round about way:

– i’m also a fan of the Demoscene from way back. Have you seen any of Farb-Rausch’s stuff? Fantastic, tiny coded work.

max abeles
January 5, 2009


April 26, 2009

Hey, John, I’ve used the programme L-Systems Explorer by James Matthews to produce some tree shapes. I haven’t applied it to music yet. I like what you’re doing here.

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