Grain Main Frame is a sound sketch, a one-off piece of software that loads audio files and plays them via several inventive, homebrewed sample players. Via granular techniques, methods of slicing sounds into tiny grains and then re-assembling them, a single sound can be stretched, sliced, and retriggered creatively. The software supports drag-and-drop functionality, as well, so you can drop files and go.

It’s a simple app conceptually, but it’s already packed with functionality in this early version. In addition to drag-and-drop file loading and a folder full of homemade samples to play, the software includes:

  • Gesture recording of mouse movements, a la KORG’s KAOSS Pad series
  • Rate, interval, loop point, randomization, and pan settings for granular playback
  • OSC control, so you can manipulate parameters via an iPhone, a Max patch, etc.

The software is built in Processing, the artist-friendly code environment, using the Beads sound library for Java. Because it’s Java-based, it should run on any platform. (I did have an issue with the executable jar on Linux, but I’m working with Jeremy to see if I can fix the problem!)

It’s free-as-in-beer; no license or source is included, but Jeremy tells CDM he does plan to give most of his work away. (If this does develop into a more mature app, you may see a paid iteration some time down the road, but not any time soon, says the author.)

Grain Main Frame is Released []

Check out Jeremy’s site for some other cool projects in Reaktor, Max, Max for Live, and Processing.

The iPhone and now iPad have spawned a lot of talk about the idea of small, simple apps rather than big, monolithic workstations in software design – musical and otherwise. But projects like this suggest that we could see similar trends in software elsewhere. After all, there’s no reason you couldn’t load up a new netbook or slate with some simple sonic tools, too; no Apple logo is necessarily required. It’ll be interesting to see how that evolves. (And they could be connected, too: to use Java as an example, there is a Java JACK implementation for routing audio to and from other applications.)

Via our friend Richard Devine in comments, here’s another cool app, this one powered by Csound. It’s a separate project, not authored by Jeremy, but Jeremy has done a lovely screencast. (Grain Main Frame could also substitute other back ends for sound processing).

That project is free and open source, working with Python and Csound:

Csound downloads

More information on granular options on Jeremy’s blog:
Obsession with Granular Synthesis