Polyrhythmus is an Insanely-Great, Free Generator of Rhythms, Arpeggios

Polyrhythmus is the machine generator of notes and rhythms many of us have long dreamt of. It does Euclidean rhythms – symmetrical divisions of time that beautifully produce common polyrhythms (not just for nerds, but modeling a lot of popular rhythms – see the research of Godfried Toussaint). It’s also capable of making other rhythms. It can be polymetrical or polyrhythmic. It’s … also an arpeggiator. It also automates parameters and MIDI Control Change messages. It has loads of modes. It’s modular. It’s dynamic. It’s amazing. It’s a music making nerd’s dream, friendly to anyone who loves rhythms, notes, and …


Bach Cello Suite No. 1, Visualized in Sweeping Arcs, and the Math Beneath

Alexander Chen, he of Kinect hacks and subways turned to strings, is back with another string visualization. Built in the browser (an interactive version is available), this work makes a visual accompaniment to Bach’s First Prelude from the Cello Suites. If you read music notation fluently, you may find the score itself suffices, but even so, the math to make this work – and the dance of circles across strings – is compelling. Alex, whose day job is with Google’s Creative Lab, talks to us a bit about the mathematics and process. First, his description: baroque.me visualizes the first Prelude …


Melodies Found in Barcodes, Then Shared, via iPhone

Strings of numbers are everywhere in our world, tucked just outside our awareness alongside identifiers like bar codes. Dutch media artist and inventor Leo van der Veen simply plucks that information and brings it to the fore. Barcodas is a barcode-scanning iPhone app that deciphers common EAN and UPC codes and translates them into musical patterns. Pick the scale you want, and out comes a melody. I’ve engaged in similar silliness myself, but in a sign of how handheld tech has changed, a project I did a few years back involved a USB scanner I purchased at an office supply …


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

Loopseque on the iPad. Courtesy the developer. We continue our 3.14 celebration with a round-up of circular logic. There’s no reason apart from the printed score to assume music has to be divided into grids laid on rectangles. Even the “piano roll” as a concept began as just that – a roll. Cycles the world around, from a mechanical clock to Indonesian gamelan, can be thought of in circles. Imagine an alternate universe in which Raymond Scott’s circle machine – a great, mechanical disc capable of sequencing sounds – became the dominant paradigm. We might have circles everywhere, in place …


Pythagoras, Upcoming iPad App, Recasts Frets to Make them More Harmonic

To celebrate what in the US we call 3.14 or PI day, today I’m offering stories that deal with mathematics and circles. First up, an app named for the great philosopher who is credited – even if perhaps ahistorically so – with finding that ratio and ratios in harmonies. Technology has long introduced innovations that make playing easier for specialists and non-specialists alike. Just ask anyone who plays an instrument like the guitar – frets, and the simplified notation that went with it, go back centuries as a means of allowing more people to make music. Developer Rob Fielding wants …