Music For Shuffle

Sketch #10

Not much new here in terms of sound or visuals, really. This one’s more of a proof-of-concept sketch. I finally got around to playing with Max for Live, and cobbled together a little patch that helps me do a couple of new things.

Download MP3s (5.9mb)

In the video above, each blue column represents an instrument, and each block in a column represents an individual phrase. When one phrase finishes playing, it randomly cues up and plays another one. This is kind of like having five or six separate copies of iTunes, each playing independently – one on drums, another one bass, another one on chords, and so on – and all of them playing on shuffle, independent of one another. It’s a brilliant head-melter to try and write simple harmony for. Also, I can now trigger images in sync, in the other windows there. Been messing around trying to think about how live notation might work.

Adaptive/recursive design

This is a more flexible way to compose, listen to, and maybe perform this stuff, but I want to keep sharing sketches with my friends, and don’t want to force anyone to have to run a custom Max patch just to listen to some crappy demo. So, the shuffleable MP3s of this sketch are stamped with the specific time when I recorded them playing on the fancier software-based setup.

This points at a few wisps of ideas. Hmm. I could then record those MP3s being played in iTunes for a few minutes, note the time, then press that as a one-off vinyl record. Then I could transcribe that record into notation, note the time, and publish that as a one-off piece of sheet music. Then I could perform that music live, and note the time, and so on and so on. It’s a nice thought experiment, and could make for a lovely set of one-off, bespoke products. Hmm.

More than shuffle

I also got round to starting Adam Harper’s excellent book, Infinite Music. He talks a lot about “non-sonic music objects” in our everyday music experience – you know, things like band t-shirts, gig posters, surly record shop employees, the user interfaces of online music shops, etc etc – and how these are on an equal musical footing with harmony, lyrics, instrumentation, arrangement, microphone placement and so on. Good meaty stuff. And it made me re-read Dan Hill’s typically epic post on New Musical Experiences that really got me into all this stuff when I were a fresh-faced lad at the RCA.

Anyway, I really should extrapolate outwards from shuffle mode and start playing with networks, location, mobility, sociality and all that. I love the idea that I could write a piece of music that could be unique to whoever listens to it, depending on what else they listen to, and the relationship data between me and them.

Synths With Friends? ‘Luciered’ instruments?

Maybe one way I could start could be to try and make synth presets derived from various friends’ social network data. Kind of like Datadecs, but with sound. Hmm. It also makes me think about that 3D-printed flute and plastic trombone that have been doing the rounds, which leads me (yet again) to the colossal I Am Sitting In A Room, and all its derivatives over the years. You know, the old ‘do a 3D print, 3D scan it, then print it again’ gag. Has anyone come full-circle and explored the acoustic properties of 3D printing? What would a low-poly tuba sound like?

Anyway. That’s all for another day. Next step is to get a proper handle on this new setup and try to make a few screen-based music stands, and start looking for willing volunteers to try and play some of it.