Coding-for-artists tool Processing is already popular for visuals, but MIDI and sound have been a serious blind spot. Speaking of our friend Wesen of Ruin & Wesen, he has solved that with a new library called rwmidi, which makes MIDI programming far easier and more stable. He’s also solved the lack of proper Java MIDI support on Mac with the free OSXMidiSPI. You can download both from his site, under “Software > JAVA”:
Wesen today shares a screencast showing how you can build a sequencer using rwmidi and the classic Game of Life. For the record, the Game of Life dates all the way back to 1970 and British mathematician John Horton Conway. I really need to do some digging to track just how many computer musicians have applied the Game of Life to musical applications, but suffice to say, they’ve been doing it for quite some time – partly because you don’t need any computing power to make it work. Most recently, we’ve seen in synth form in the wonderful Reaktor ensemble by Lazyfish, Newschool (featured in Reaktor and included with the package), and as a kind of meta-effect from Audio Damage called Automaton.
What’s great about the Game of Life is that it helps you break out of endlessly-looping sequencers. Once you get the basic hang of this code, though, you’re by no means limited to the Game of Life. You could easily create other variations – perhaps a sequencer based on the game Breakout or Tetris, for instance. And this is a great introduction to using the rwmidi library if you prefer to learn from videos. Wesen promises more such tutorials in the future.