If you’re interested in generative and algorithmic music – music that evolves organically rather than being pre-composed in start-to-finish linear fashion – you won’t want to miss this site. Nodal is a free (for non-commercial use) app for developing generative musical systems and transmitting MIDI. You’ll need a Mac (PowerPC/Intel) to run the software, but even if you’re on Windows or Linux, you’ll find a number of interesting research papers on the site. vinayk writes:

The program is called Nodal – osx only, BEAUTIFUL interface, and FREE, it does a bit more sophisticated things but I basically plugged the output into sculpture – and it sounded amazing… well worth a look! And if anyone can tell me how to sync this to live or logic then i’d be much obliged!

Since it sends MIDI, it’d also be interesting to use this hooked up to visuals or triggering clips in Ableton Live.

Nodal Project Page, Tutorials, Examples, Research [Monash University]

I’ll be giving this a try soon. If you know of other generative software and research we should be checking out, perhaps we can put together a full round-up.

See also Noatikl / Mixtikl, from Intermorphic – developers who built the ground-breaking Koan generative system for Brian Eno. And we’re getting close to the release of the game Spore, which will feature a new generative engine and Eno’s composition.

noatikl: New Generative Music Engine, So You Can Rock Out Like Eno

Generative iPod? Deep Modular, Generative Music System Bound for iPhone, Phones, Windows, Mac

(Note that we learned this week that Mixtikl is not coming to iPhone in the immediate future. It’s available on plenty of other platforms, however, and if you’ve got a Mac for both, let the generative music making commence!)

  • What I meant about "left field" and "keeping a mix" in the last post.

    Awesome … this is why I love CDM! 🙂

  • OMG my head just exploded. This is very exciting stuff.

    I could listen to the "Minimalist Network" in the examples folder all day.

    Can't wait to start creating my own graphs.

  • On one hand, awesome! I've been wanting something like this for a long time. On the other hand, dammit! I just started a project making something like this.

    Perhaps I'll continue and see what I can come up with.

  • got live hooked up to pd last weekend on osx via the Inter-Application Communication (IAC) Driver, should be the same for Live to record instrument racks

  • Jan

    Nice piece of software. Thanks for posting it. Just tested it with Ableton Live and it works great.

  • contakt

    I tried this with Garage Band a few months ago and loved it. Had a hard time creating programs for it (in the few hours I spent with it) but I have been meaning to get back to it because the results are amazing.

  • and of course y'all can use JACK (or SoundFlower) to route the audio from this into (or out of) GarageBand, Logic or any other CoreAudio application.

  • ballpein

    This offers some great possibilities to use in conjunction with Live or Logic – not just for virtual instruments, but for sending controller information to "animate" effect controls, trigger samples, etc … can't wait to play tonight.

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  • Hi Folks,

    Yes, don't forget that Noatikl is still alive and kicking. 🙂 http://www.intermorphic.com

    For Mac, Windows, AU/VSTi/standalone – and running as I listen to it on my phone (under Mixtikl, which we're hoping to release in 2 months). 🙂

    All the best,


  • shamburglar

    I loved using this program on 10.4, for some reason i can not get it to send out midi in 10.5… Ableton sees the nodal output but no midi goes through… also tried routing through IAC… anybody got anysuggestions? Sorry to post a forum like question here, but i love this program so much and miss it.

  • Wes

    this is awesome!

    i just passed my degree and submitted 2 songs made solely in Nodal.

    its really nice to use, the setup info is really helpful…

    although ive still not got round to figuring it out completely as some of the demo songs do some crazy awesome things….

    if you care to listen

    'poly lullaby' and 'how to hypnotise a cat' are the two tracks from Nodal

  • contakt

    Wes: Nice stuff. Both songs sound really cool.

    Would someone mind telling me how to get this set up with Live 7 on Mac/Leopard?

  • contakt

    Nevermind. Too easy. I figured it out. No I just need to go through the tutorial and learn how to use this thing.

  • noisegeek

    Great. Between this and Numerology I have to buy a Mac now. There just aren't any good Windows alternatives (that I know of).

  • I was really amazed at the interface of this program – very professionally done, how do you guys sync this to live – i.e so that when I hit play in live Nodal starts?

    There is just soo much great software out there – it's no wonder I never get time to actually use any of it!

  • Ben

    There is somthing in the same vain by ixi called connector.

    See this site.

    I don't have a mac, unfortunately but for this or metasytnh perhaps I should buy one. There is also a lot of fractal music generator for the PC (fractint, musinum, a musical generator,…).

  • its very gratifying to see that our software is being used and appreciated. I won't comment in detail about every technical question but basically the issue with synchronization is that we don't have it yet. There are a number of interesting problems associated with this:

    1) time in Nodal is not necessarily linear and so standard tick style measurement of time does not occur in the same way that it does in a DAW or sequencer. This is both a technical and an interesting aesthetic issue. The problem becomes apparent when you turn off the grid quantise and have networks with non-metrical time intervals. For those of you addicted to slicing up time like a loaf of bread you might consider trying this as a kind of antidote to meter. In sequencers, time is measured according to the resolution of the smallest timing unit – a tick (or similar name). If you have timing events that fall between ticks they are quantised (tocks become ticks). This is not an issue if the resolution is fine enough and in a linear flow of a temporal structure small errors are not noticeable, however in Nodal it can be. It is possible to have a network of loops that have small differences in their timing. These differences can't be quantised in the same way as is done in sequencers because quantise error will become cumulative over time. Looping (in parallel, series or in nests) requires that loops behave in a proportional manner – as do humans who actually sense time rather slice it! By proportional I mean that time is measured in ratios, eg; 3/4, 3/8, 15/16 or in the case of a possible ratio in Nodal, 154/155. Computers can't do all ratios eg 1:3, which is .3333333… at some point digital requires a discrete rounded number. This illustrates a profound limitation of the digital medium and reflects a concern that I have that time is a somewhat misunderstood concept because in computers we have come to pin events in time onto a digital lattice. Aidan will be able to explain the technical aspects of this issue in more detail but the way time is calculated is actually different because it is a non-linear system. Cumulative rounding error is not completely eliminated but he was able to come up with some clever solutions here. All this means that to sync every aspect of Nodal's behavior is not a simple question.

    2) the flow of time is non-linear so that you need to run the program from the beginning to find out what it will do. Therefore it is not possible (without a work-around) to start at a time after the start (or into the future of the generative process). We have discussed a workaround – which is to get the program to rapidly generate events in advance and buffer this so that you can start and stop at different points in time. This would of course involve a short delay in time before the program can be active.

    This is a complicated answer to the question of sync but the issues are interesting. Our funding for this project has currently run out and so we are considering how we might develop the software further (at present Nodal doesn't have cut, copy, paste and undo). So at this stage, sorry to say, syncing is not possible. You might be able to send a MIDI start message as there is the facility to code raw MIDI messages although I haven't tried this. I have done live improvisation with Rene Wooller who was using some of his great generative software and we just set our tempos to match and made sure we pressed start at the same time – this works just fine.

  • Thanks for the answer Peter,

    It all seems way more complex than my brain can get around after a whole day at work –> but needless to say i'd be really excited to see where this all goes!

  • joe

    No PC support? I'll stick to Noatikl then.

  • In case you're wondering, that pingback above is to a post on my blog where I have a Nodal-assisted track for download… I captured big chunks of MIDI that Nodal was generating and then added an additional level of complexity by using follow actions and multiple MIDI channels piped into the instrument track… I definitely need to play around with the software further, but it's a great little program. I would like to play with Noatikl more as well…

  • you can output midi clock data from nodal by putting 0xF8 into advanced midi in a node. That will output 96th clock ticks, so put them fairly close together in a loop, and there you go. Add a MIDI START on the first node (0xFA), et voila!

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  • YJ

    Noatikl sucks…

    i have been working with SSEYO Koan for years, and Noatikl offers nothing new,

    Noatikl is nothing but a bad port of Koan, with a poorly designed user interface, it doesn't even have a graphical pattern editor.. the only reason why Noatikl was made is because Koan is not sold anymore..

  • joe

    Noatikl is the only modern generative music engine I can find for the PC. I agree the UI could use some work, but I'm hopeful intermorphic will keep updating it as they have in the past.

  • I can't get Nodal to play multiple tracks with software instruments in GarageBand (the way SimpleSynth can do) If I play in Nodal I can hear through GB but only on the selected instrument. I'd like to record across multiple instruments. Any advice?

  • Theo den Brinker

    In Nodal each instrument is allocated to a separate MIDI channel.

    From a brief play with Nodal and Garageband I believe that in Garageband all midi channels are summed to one track.So all the notes from all the active instruments from a Nodal sheet are recorded into one track.

    In Logic a track can be assigned to each Nodal channel to record midi. The"R" record button must be active to hear the track. (Note. In the Settings panel, Recording tab – MIDI section you need to activate "Auto demix by channel…" to actually record the separate Instrument MIDI)

    In Reason a midi channel can be assigned to an instrument or combinator in the Advanced MIDI device. Rewire can be used to record the audio. Reason does not record the MIDI

    In Live each track can be assigned to Nodal MIDI output and the channel however only 1 track at a time can be recorded as midi. The output from the tracks can be recorded but again only 1 at a time.

    But audio output can be combined.

    Don't hesitate to make any corrections.

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  • Richard

    I just read the latest CM and was outrage that such an amazing program was apparently PC only.

    Fortunatly it is not!! Go PC 😛

    Now if only they could release a VST version to 🙂

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  • H Robotham

    Very cool program, not FREE though…….

  • H Robotham

    Very cool program, not FREE though…….

  • H Robotham

    Very cool program, not FREE though…….