There’s something about symmetrical rhythms, it seems: through the power of math, these rhythms sound really good. We’ve looked a couple of times before at the spread of the Euclidean Algorithm for producing rhythms; see below. Wouter Hisschemöller has updated what began as an in-browser Flash tool to build an free and open source, Java-based MIDI utility. You dial in the rhythms you want, and now, with the addition of MIDI output, you can play those rhythms in any software of your choice. (Ableton Live plays the part of the MIDI recipient in the video above.)

Yes, you can actually make music with these nifty geometric interfaces:
Euclidean Patterns Demo 1 by Wouter Hisschemöller

Euclidean Patterns Demo 2 by Wouter Hisschemöller

Lots of detail and documentation on how to use the tool on Wouter’s updated blog post from earlier this week:
Euclidean MIDI Patterns

Previously, on Euclid Music Television:
Euclidean Rhythms in Ableton MIDI Clips for Polyrhythmic Good Times

Circles and Euclidean Rhythms: Off the Grid, a Few Music Makers That Go Round and Round

  • oh wow, this is really really neat.

  • Automageddon

    On IDMf forum there's currently an Euclidean themed compilation/competion going on:

    The submission date is still open until there's more submissions.

    Also take your time to check the releases from the IDMf netlabel, there's plenty of gold there!

  • I think that one of the reasons that these patterns are interesting is that they are metrically ambiguous. It's possible to hear the downbeat and the beat itself in different places in the pattern, and where you hear the beat can be influenced by subtle cues like dynamics or the position at which the pattern is begun. These patterns set up a scenario in which gestalt flips are likely to occur, and this, for whatever, reason is interesting to us as listeners.

    I wrote a paper a few years ago about quantifying this metrical ambiguity a few years ago:

  • Ranch

    interesting. but still its more fun to listen to Elvin Jones…

  • Adam

    I'd like to see some alternative rhythm generators. The Euclidean stuff works great and is really cool, but what are some other options?

  • newgreyarea

    Very cool. Having a hard time geting it to talk to Ableton on my Mac. IAC shows up, hell Live even says it's receiving messages but no sound from any synth I put in it's way. Bummer. Seems like fun and might get my head thinking in some different rhythms.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Adam: Excellent question. I'd say that's wide-open. 😉

    @newgreyarea: Hmmm… take a look at the actual MIDI messages, then (hit record in a clip, even?) and maybe you can see?

    If you're receiving, it means at least IAC is working, so it's probably something easy! (i.e., double-check MIDI settings in Ableton are configured to send MIDI to track, and that the track is set to omni receive?)

  • rmc

    This stuf is loads of fun. The mesmerizing rhythms possible can suck me down a rabbit hole for hours.

    @newgreyarea – If you have M4L there's a maxforlive port of the same concept over at:

  • newgreyarea

    @Peter – I just kept trying different things and restarting my computer a few times and it just worked. Dunno. Can't explain it.

    @rmc – That's what I'm talking about!! Thanks for that! I'll be sure to send some cash his direction!

  • Okay, this is cool. I put it on a track in Ableton via LoopBe virtual MIDI, and stuck xoxos dystopia (a cymbal synthesizer) on the track. I almost started laughing because the first pattern I made sounded like the intro to 'YYZ' by Rush. This thing is really cool! I may configure a full set of them to see what happens.

  • It would be great to have this implemented in reaktor…. does anyone know if anyone did it?
    do you think it would be possible? let's do it!

  • Random Chance

    Very neat, I'm quite impressed by the demos because I don't think they sound very much like your typical tech demo but rather like music. Well done, Wouter!

    @Adam: You could certainly adapt other algorithms (there are, I believe, people doing music with sorting algorithms) to create music or just rhythmical patterns from. The question is whether you will gain anything. The Bjorklund algorithm already creates all patterns of evenly spaced events subject to a set of constraints. l might be wrong however. Can't remember having seen a proof of that. Perhaps somebody can shed light on this more theoretical aspect?

    I would be interested in using Petri nets to create patterns. They have a lot going for them: Petri nets are a well studied and very powerful, yet mostly intuitively understandable formalism that can describe a wide variety of (discrete) natural processes, like rhythms. They can be non-deterministic, meaning that you can have instant variants of your patterns. They've already been used to describe musical structure. And, at least to me, they are pretty, there's something to look at. A little like Nodal, but different.

  • Brian Tuley

    This is a very clever design.  I'm going to check out the max4live port version of the same concept.  I'd like to design my own patches to elaborate further upon this theme.  Also seems like a great way to approach complex algorithmic structures from within max/msp.  

    I have to study up on this concept a lot more first.  If I can replicate the math in Max/msp then I'm almost certain it will yield great results for many compositional applications.

  • Tzvika

    Can anyone tell me what i'm doing wrong? I installed the latest Java version (JRE 6), associated the file with the javaws.exe file and it shows an error message saying "unable to launch the application" and when i click on detailes it says – error: the following requiered field is missing from the launch file

    thanks in advance for any help.

  • Peter Venus

    I just found this really inspiring. and i couldnt resist of just quickly build it as an abstraction for Puredata. Thanx to the PD list for some input for solutions. link:

  • digid

    Someone should mention Vladislav Delay. He did these kinds of rhythms/patterns about twelve years ago, when his Entain album came out. And he did it brilliantly, too – quite a lot more interesting than the examples in this article.

  • really inspiring tool , thanks for the link !
    @Tzvika : put the jar file in your C: and try this from the windows bar :start/execute and type :
    java -jar c:MIDI Sequencer 001.jar
    works for me

  • hrmm kind of reminds me of Raymond Scott's Circle Machine:&nbsp ;

  • Bitbit

    This would be genius as an iPad app with core midi support. Someone please make it so!

  • Tode
  • guys check this site i found. learn guitar easily

  • radioshaolin

    It would be really great to have it on MAX/MSP in Ableton ))