Have you ever wanted to enslave your own Aphex Twin, then have him make endless rhythms for you, but worried about care and feeding of a Richard D. James?

Do you want to soak up the glory of the life of an IDM musician (the touring in helicopters, the seven-figure royalties), but want to avoid the actual work of making the music?

Well, then this Csound-based tool is for you. Run it, and it spits out a nice random rhythm or two. Leave it running, and it’ll generate a whole folder full of rhythms and various bpm. Dump those into Ableton Live, pick out the ones you like, and … ah, okay, now you will have to do some work turning this into music. (Effects …. maybe. Arrangement … well, or just loop one endlessly and pop off for lunch. Or make them into something new, original, and very much your own. Kind of up to you, really, though soon we should have some machine learning that decides for you what you probably would like to choose.)

It’s all the fault – erm, work – of one Micah Frank, who actually makes his living as a sound designer. (Meaning, of course – Micah what are you doing?!) Switch it on, and wait for hundreds of sounds to come your way.

Right now, it’s pretty simple – and it takes all night because it’s real-time, not offline. (On the other hand, you could output sound and have lovely, very weird and erratic, sonic wallpaper.) But Micah plans lots of additional features here, plus a whole compositional environment.

So there you have it. Skip the all nighter. Catch up on sleep.

You saw it here first.


Nice to see this sketch from when this was conceived.

  • Travis Basso

    Finally! This is like a dream come true! If Saudi Arabia can grant citizenship to a robot, than I can co-write music with a machine!

  • micah

    Thanks Peter! You don’t HAVE to leave it on all night. You can just render out a few bars or whatever. As you mention, it’s realtime so you can monitor it and stop it when you like. Or you can go out, enjoy your fancy IDM lifestyle for a few hours, come back and have a bunch of loops ready.

    • Ha! Well, but… there’s something romantic about doing that. 😉 Makes the narrative.

      I used to do this with the old Macs so I could do convolution of big audio files. And then, yeah, 8-10 hours was par for the course.

  • 😆😄
  • TeamOth

    This is great! So… I’ve installed CsoundQT and am running Beatfox.csd, enjoying the random beats, but how do you get it to save the sounds as wavs (or whatever format it uses)?

    • TeamOth

      No worries, just found that it’s automatically spitting them out as .aif files into the folder that contains the Beatfox.csd file. Brilliant!

      • micah

        yup. that’s right. it just spits them out into the same directory that the .csd lives in. Enjoy!

  • Fun! And potentialit useful, especially for learning. Might tweak it a bit to do lines which shift around a bit. On iOS, been enjoying the way the sequencer part Bram Bos apps like TroubleMaker can introduce a bit of “mutation”.

    Never really got into Csound (though my friends were going all-hog with it in the early 1990s, even creating a Tcl/Tk frontend for it). Had more luck doing this kind of thing in Sonic Pi, which really fits the way my mind works.

    Something about this particular “orchestra”, though, is that it sounds like the hi hats often produce a narrow band background noise. Pretty noticeable with eighth notes. But, in my experience, it’s the same issue with shorter values, just more hidden by other sounds.
    Tried taking the hats off (density of `random 1,1`, as my other attempts didn’t work), and that takes care of that problem. But, then, the hats do provide much of the groove so the loops feel just a bit too empty. Also tried shortening the release and that didn’t help much.
    Get that this might be part of the æsthetic. But it doesn’t work well for me.

    • micah

      Yes – the hats have a mysterious low level feedback going on that I have not had a chance to address yet. I tinkered with the issue on fri but couldn’t pinpoint the cause. It is a tracked issue on the github page.

  • Piet Ooth

    Art has no value anymore. Why not shut off our brains entirely and let machines express our emotions for us?

    Why not? No one has anything of any worth to say. You could lobotomize 80% of the world and their thoughts and behavior wouldn’t be any different before or after. Might as well gas them instead, no one would care. People love being divided, anyway.

    • poopoo

      “No one has anything of any worth to say” muttered Piet, the artsy nazi, inadvertently illustrating the very point he was trying to make.

  • micah

    Related – There’s a new offshoot instrument that just generates kick drum one-shots. Lots of refined synth params and user definitions. Great for just creating a folder of kicks https://github.com/chronopolis5k/Kickblast