Stepping Through Music, Interactively: Drum Kits and Monomes Navigate Notes

Left to right, beginning to end, the same in a loop — there’s no reason music has to work this way once you’ve got a computer. But if you associate generative or algorithmic music with some sort of magical black box machine you switch on, an automaton spitting out notes while you sip tea and stroke your beard, think again. Here are two examples that use interactive structures as a way to make music more live, not less. One is the latest creation from the ingenious mind of monome creator Brian Crabtree (who, perhaps unexpectedly, seems to have redirected the …


Chain, Chain, Chain: Crazy Nodal Note Sequencing Departs from Everyday Step Sequencers [Kontakt]

Ready to step beyond normal step sequencers? Skip ahead in the tutorial videos here, and you’ll see what’s possible: elaborate grid patterns that don’t just play looped patterns ad infinitum. Now, as in milkshakes and ice cream cones, sometimes vanilla is just fine. For instance, this week, Nord released Nord Beat, a free step sequencer for iOS. And, apart from being free if you’ve got the iThing to run it, it’s a nice offering. You can chain together multiple loops of steps, and there’s a clever mode for switching to finger drumming. The system works: you get four tracks, velocity …


NodeBeat, Visual Sequencer for iOS + Android Built with Free Tools, Back on Android Market

NodeBeat is the kind of experimental music application that’s thriving in the age of the multi-touch tablet. Its dynamic interface and sound are built on the foundation of free and open source software tools regularly covered here on CDMusic and Motion. OpenFrameworks, the Processing-like C++ library, handles the UI, as libpd, the embeddable version of graphical media environment Pure Data, manages the sound. What you get is an open-ended plane on which you can graphically array sequences, far away from the standard grid, for generative and sequenced music. It’s good fun, which made it a hit on iOS. Developer Seth …


Nodal Music Making Hands-on, as Creative Compositional Worlds Meet Synth Laboratories

What’s a “lab,” anyway? For music, any number of tools – software or hardware – can become gateways to creative musical explorations. Chris Stack joins us again to look at Nodal, Mac/Windows software that generates musical patterns from graphical maps of nodes, alongside hardware explorations. Along the way, Chris has some reflections on composition itself. -Ed. Sometimes life imitates art. Sometimes life imitates avant-garde art. Random events placed together can often form surprising harmonies, causing daily affairs to resemble an aleatoric composition. This concept was brought to mind by the juxtaposition of a pair of recent events. The first was …


With Networks of Notes, Nodal Generates Music: Updated Mac+Windows App Now Adds MIDI

What makes music software popular? Simple recording, DJ, and remix apps unsurprisingly do well. But perhaps as a testament to the importance of individual music expression, some stranger entries do, too. And those less-typical software creations can give you new ways of exploring music creation and performance. Just take Nodal. GarageBand sits comfortably at the top of the sellers list on Apple’s App Store. But, at least briefly, a generative composition tool has rocketed to second place. Nodal 1.7, available for both Mac and Windows, is unlike most music production tools. In place of linear track arrangement, clusters of graphical …


Pretty, Nodal, Non-Linear Music, on iPad + iPhone and Big Dodecahedrons

Brian Eno should be proud. Generative sequencing – making lovely, shimmering music mapped to pleasant-sounding modes – is totally in this season. At top, exhibit A: Aura Flux, a new iOS ambient music generator. Priced at US$1.99, it nonetheless packs some 48 different instruments, ambient sounds, four keys, save/load capability, and multitasking support. Sequences are arrayed into editable nodes: touch and explore, or tweak specific settings like pulse speed and decay, trigger rates, and pitch to get the results you want. Generative music has a key advantage for mobile devices, too: it doesn’t take up as much space. In the …


Jasuto Modular Synth for iPhone, Mac + Windows VST: Build Your Own Instruments

Jasuto envelope example from Jasuto on Vimeo. Imagine friendly creation of custom synths and sounds by dragging visual nodes. Now imagine you can do that on a mobile device and your computer – and eventually combine the two. That’s the vision of Jasuto, and while it’s not quite there yet, it’s incredibly promising. The laws of combinatorics predict that, on a regular basis, you’ll see countless soft synths that are slight variations of one another. With the iPhone/iPod touch gold rush in full swing, we’re starting to see the pattern repeat itself, just as it did in Windows and Mac …


Free Nodal Generative Sequencer: Now on Windows, Too; Live Improvisation Video

Sequencers by definition traditionally lock musical patterns into repetitive, unchanging blocks of time. But a new generation of generative sequencers can instead form organic patterns that change and transform. Nodal is a totally free-as-in-beer (closed-source) sequencer for composing music. (A license is needed for commercial use.) As the name implies, it uses a matrix of nodes to represent musical structure. The best way to understand what that means exactly is to check out the examples and give the app a shot, but is good fun – and capable of creating some lovely, unusual musical textures. The good news now is …