Soundscape #1 from Umcorps on Vimeo.

Tired of waiting for Spore, the upcoming Will Wright game that will feature organic, generative music by musical legend Brian Eno instead of … looping … the same 8 bars of audio … over and over again? Want to explore your own oblique strategies in music making and create evolving generative compositions? noatikl could be for you.

Co-creator Pete Cole, who evidently found us by googling Eno, wrote us last week with the details:

intermorphic ( yesterday launched the noatikl generative music engine.

You can think of noatikl as a "spiritual successor" to the (no-longer available) Koan generative music engine, which of course was used extensively by none other than Brian Eno; who you mentioned a while back in the context of Spore. Brian created his seminal "Generative Music 1" with the Koan system back in 1996.

As you’ll see from the site, noatikl has been created from scratch, is Windows and Mac compatible, and is available in a variety of plug-in variants. There are also quite a few demo and tutorial videos available on both myspace and vimeo.

noatikl Overview

umcorps Videos on Vimeo (tutorials + musical examples)

Pete Cole Videos on Vimeo (still more tutorials + musical examples)

The price tag is set at US$179 (standalone) to $249 (suite) US$99 (standalone non-commercial) to $199 (suite commercial) under a new pricing scheme, with academic pricing available. I have to say, even if you’re not interested in buying a new tool, anyone with a passing interest in the possibilities of generative music will want to spend a little time with the videos — some fascinating ideas in there.

Windows and Mac tutorials (in HD, no less) after the jump. Thanks for the couple of tips I got on this; back from Australia and catching up now!


Brian Eno, with Wright on Spore and Generative Systems, Sound, and Paintings

Brian Eno to Create Generative Soundtrack for Spore; Algorithmic Productivity Busting Follows

(I think CDM should issue a "Seeds, Not Forests" t-shirt.)

noatikl generative music – creating your first piece on Mac from Pete Cole on Vimeo.

noatikl generative music – creating your first piece on Windows from Pete Cole on Vimeo.

  • Synth_sound

    Could not get the demo version to work with Live 7 which is a shame.

    Looks very much like Koan Pro but with an even less impressive GUI.

    If it were priced at about $40 I might be tempted to buy it assuming I can get it running as a VST plugin.

    I think Live's racks could give similar results for generative music.

  • interesting software, but the reason I commented is far more petty.

    looking closely, I believe there may be a pirate shirt involved

    clever product placement no doubt πŸ˜‰

  • upon further investigation, I wish to redact my observation of pirate-shirt sporting. It appears to have been an optical illusion, resulting from a glitch in the matrix.

  • @ Synth_sound: I've been using both the VST and stand-alone versions with Live 7, and am not having any difficulties. There are some other Live users on the Intermorphic forums, too. The Intermorphic crew are *amazingly* responsive with support on the forums, so perhaps check there with specific problems?

  • I confess I was a bit disappointed with this. I'd hoped it to be of greater utility to folk not exclusively interested in having bland, aimless music made for them. While it offers you a certain degree of parametric range control, it offers you little to interact with, to tailor its results to your interests/needs. Which, in the end, makes it pleasant but mostly uninteresting to me.

    I have a few modular software patches around that can produce similar results. For that price, I was expecting something a little more impressive, a little bit deeper.

    It's good to see the Koan guys overplaying their Eno connection once again. I'd missed that. Makes me all nostalgic for 1998.

  • @ Synth Sound, you don't need this…

    In live you can create generative racks w/ a little work.

  • Regarding pirate shirts, I should clarify. While Create Digital Music is strongly opposed to *software* piracy, we actually support piracy of the high seas, provided it is carried out under wind power and follows the ancient pirate code. There are significant ecological reasons that suggest the fate of the world's climate may rest solidly on this important form of economic activity:

  • Oh, and, erm, on a serious note, they just sent a license over so I'll see if I can make any music with the software and report back. Hopefully the interface can be operated with a hook on one hand, of course.

  • I have for many years found the original 'Koan' engine to be unique in it's rules, interactions, and output…truly Noatikl continues this tradition to my ears. I own quite a few 'generative' engines and Intermorphic's approach is definitely unique, there is much more going on under the hood than 'just random', any time spent with it (the demo has a very generous 30 day trial) should easily bear this out to anyone who appreciates the art involved in working with generative/computer assisted composition. Of course it does take some exploring to understand the difference, I am sure that truly interested artists will easily discern the difference for themselves. I myself the interface VERY easy on the eyes and a upgrade from the 'Koan' GUI.

    As to 'overplaying' the Eno connection, I think the fact that he used one piece of software to do an entire album and in a format that was directly tied to the vision of the software is well worth mentioning and doesn't come across as 'overplayed' at all IMHO πŸ˜‰

    I am quite excited by the Cole's return to providing their visionary tools and look forward to what future developments will bring! (also gald to see the this article appear here, thanks Peter)

  • "doesn’t come across as ‘overplayed’ at all IMHO"

    I'd agree if we weren't talking ten years. I'd actually been a bit harsher in my original choice of words, but then edited to "overplayed" as I wish these folks no ill.

    I like the idea of this software, but, much like Koan, I just don't think it does much to rise above its novelty factor.

  • Hi Steve!

    Interesting comments, thank you!.

    The reason for mentioning Eno and Koan, is that it gives a historical hook on which they can hang our new developments. Otherwise, people would no doubt say "noatikl? intermorphic? who?" and totally ignore us. πŸ™‚

    noatikl is a powerful, new generative music engine. It is by no means the only generative system you can use. Generative music as a field, is like any other musical genre I guess; it came about because the technology arrived that supported it, and it is relevant and interesting to many people, but not to many others. Like Jazz and techno, some people like it, others don't! Some people love to play the trumpet or clarinet, others probably wonder why they bother. πŸ™‚

    But for those people who are interested in generative music, it is an incredibly diverse and stimulating field to explore; and rewards a lifetime of study. Tools with as much depth as noatikl might appear to offer "novelty factor" to those that are unfamiliar with them or the approaches required to use them; but in the hands of experts in their use they can be are highly stimulating and deeply rewarding to use.

    In broader terms, I find generative art utterly fascinating; that is why I'm trying as hard as I can to make my living from creating such tools. Wish me luck. πŸ™‚


  • BTW, the intermorphic site now tells you how to get noatikl VSTi (and/or noatikl AU on a Mac) working with Ableton Live 7. HTH!

  • Since I made the connection here to Eno, as well, I'll defend the Koan / Eno connections …

    I'm with Pete in that it's a point of reference. Actually, from the perspective of gaming, generative scores right now really are a blank slate in many ways. A lot of game music is barely interactive. I believe this music has lots of potential *beyond* gaming, but the point there is, gaming is an inherently interactive medium and even there music tends to be conceived in learn fashion!

    So, something like noatikl, in establishing an engine for this kind of work, is interesting stuff.

    And to whatever degree some people may find this overly simplistic — which is fine, maybe it doesn't meet your needs — coupling it with Ableton Live would open lots of different potential.

    So, I do appreciate this feedback … as someone who's *not* the developer, I'll see what I can work out using it, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

  • justin

    hrm, I was going to buy a new keyboard, but I might just buy noatikl instead. I heard of koan but it was unavailable by the time I discovered what it was. I tried the demo of noatikl recently, and I must say it's very nice especially with a good synth.

  • Equating noatikl to a new keyboard is spot on. It's a really useful way to approach it, both in terms of getting it set up and in using it to drive your devices.

    In deciding whether or not Koan was anything other than a novelty, it might be helpful to glance at for an overview of some of the things that were achieved using just that software alone.

  • Hi!

    Some "hot" news for you: after a lot of feedback, and heated internal discussion :), we are launching noatikl at a $99 price point (for non-commercial use of a single noatikl variant for a single operating system). The suite price ($99 upgrade) includes a commercial use license for all noatikl variants for the operating system.

    If that ain't cheap, I don't know what is!


  • Chris

    I've been playing with noatikl for a couple of days now, and I have to say that this is what I always hoped Koan would be when it finally arrived on the Mac. I put up with running Koan under Virtual PC for a while, but when the Mac version finally arrived it seemed to be a rather crippled version of the Windows beast, and never seemed to keep up in terms of functionality.

    But now that I'm using noatikl in conjunction with Logic Express – what a combination! Just the anticipation of all the stuff in Logic that I can control – I'm billing you guys for a new keyboard after all the drool it's had to deal with.

    And the price drop is just icing on my Christmas cake.

  • Thanks Chris!

    Pricing is impossible to get "perfect" for all our users.

    The feedback we've heard is that prospective users of noatikl are really happy to see the "hobbyist" price of 99 dollars. Sure, the suite license (allowing use of all the variants for a given platform, and for commercial use) costs more, but that is seen as a "fair" way to price the product; hobbyists get it as cheap as we can price it, and pro/am users get charged a bit more.

    This is quite similar to the way that Reaper is sold (different prices for hobbyist and pro/am uesrs), which seems like a great way for smaller companies to try to cater for different user needs.

    Fingers crossed we've got it right; but I can guarantee that some people still won't be happy. πŸ™‚


  • Just a little background: I played with Koan for some years back around the late 90's – early 00's. Even the last version (2.7) seemed a bit clunky and "inchoate." noatikl is smaller, cleaner and the Lua scripting capability beckons. I currently have it MIDI Yoked into Reason 4 and it works fine.

    More on my blog as I get deeper into it.

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  • Mat

    Well, nice. But what is the difference to other algorithmic music creators? So far i see none. And there are a lot of them for free download…

    Here is the one i like most:

    it creates Midifiles from a a Picture.

    Or another one:

    AMUGEN (a musical generator)
    I sometimes use these programms for creating ambient music, but mostly i only take parts out of them.

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  • YJ

    ok, since Peter deleted my comments because he didn't like my website, here they are again:

    Being a long time user of SSEYO Koan and having used noatikl, i can tell you that noatikl is basically a software port of SSEYO Koan with a different, and clumsier interface, Worse noatikl doesn't offer the pattern editor SSEYO Koan offered, so it doesn't even offer the same functionality.

    You would think the creators of Koan, would have at least done a little more work when releasing noatikl, but alas, that was not to be.

    As a Koan user, i just can't see myself spending a dime on noatikl.

    My two cents.

    and please Peter, do not delete my comments.

    Thank you

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