Electronic music making has had several major epochs. There was the rise of the hardware synth, first with modular patch cords and later streamlined into encapsulated controls, in the form of knobs and switches. There was the digital synth, in code and graphical patches. And there was the two-dimensional user interface.
We may be on the cusp of a new age: the three-dimensional paradigm for music making.
AudioGL, a spectacularly-ambitious project by Toronto-based engineer and musician Jonathan Heppner, is one step closer to reality. Three years in the making, the tool is already surprisingly mature. And a crowd-sourced funding campaign promises to bring beta releases as soon as this summer. In the demo video above, you can see an overview of some of its broad capabilities:
- Synthesis, via modular connections
- Sample loading
- The ability to zoom into more conventional 2D sequences, piano roll views, and envelopes/automation
- Grouping of related nodes
- Patch sharing
- Graphical feedback for envelopes and automation, tracked across z-axis wireframes, like circuitry
All of this is presented in a mind-boggling visual display, resembling nothing more than constellations of stars.
Is it just me, or does this make anyone else want to somehow combine modular synthesis with a space strategy sim like Galactic Civilizations? Then again, that might cause some sort of nerd singularity that would tear apart the fabric of the space-time continuum – or at least ensure we never have any normal human relationships again.
Anyway, the vitals:
- It runs on a lowly Lenovo tablet right now, with integrated graphics.
- The goal is to make it run on your PC by the end of the year. (Mac users hardly need a better reason to dual boot. Why are you booting into Windows? Because I run a single application that makes it the future.)
- MIDI and ReWire are onboard, with OSC and VST coming.
- With crowd funding, you’ll get a Win32/64 release planned by the end of the year, and betas by summer (Windows) or fall/winter (Mac).
I like this quote:
Some things which have influenced the design of AudioGL:
Catia – Dassault Systèmes
AutoCAD – Autodesk
Cubase – Steinberg
Nord Modular – Clavia
Indeed. And with computer software now reaching a high degree of maturity, such mash-ups could open new worlds.
Learn about the project, and contribute by the 23rd of March via the (excellent) IndieGogo: