Entre 2 Mondes at Elektra

For the last month, I’ve been working on the audio portion of an installation for the Elektra Festival in Montréal along with Mickaël Lafontaine. The installation, designed by Mickaël, is an interactive touchscreen experience that is a meta-installation about Cycloïd-E, which is a “kinetic polyphonic installation” also being shown at Elektra. Mickaël had elementary and high school students watch video and listen to recordings of Cycloïd-E and then write short poems about it. These poems have been split into four “thematic spaces” where people can reconstruct the poems by dragging words into place. Each “thematic space” has a theme and a unique soundscape that evokes different aspects of Cycloïd-E. The soundscapes are constructed out of bits of recordings of Cycloïd-E, recordings of the kids reading their poems, and procedurally generated audio. I used the new UGen Framework in Minim to create all of the effects and do real-time mixing and parameter control, some of which is tied directly to touchscreen input.

If you are in Montréal, you can see the installation at the Elektra Festival for free. It’s currently installed in the lobby of Usine C and can be viewed starting from 5pm, through May 7. More details are available at the Elektra site: http://www.elektramontreal.ca/2011/#/program/ENTRE_2_MONDES/

Sound Byte: Granulizer Patch

This Sound Byte gives you control over a reasonably complex UGen chain. The meat of it is a UGen I’ve called Granulizer, which takes sample data and, based on some parameters, randomly chooses short sections of the data to loop before jumping to a different short section. This sketch gives you mouse control over the size of the sections that are looped, as well as how many times they are looped. There are also keyboard commands for controlling some effects that the Granulizer is being patched through, such as a double delay, a resonant filter, a sample repeater, a bit crusher, and a playback rate controller. The controls are outlined on the applet page, so check it out!

I never really got into using max/msp or pd, but now that I’ve got these UGens to play around with in Minim, I’m finally discovering the joy of patching!

Sound Byte: Melodizer

These settings sound a bit like bad bluesy music from a 90s video game.

The Melodizer is a variation on the Beat Generator. It will constantly generate a tune with a “melody” and a “bass line” by looking at the settings every measure and generating a measure with those settings. Each big slider represents a 16th note in a one bar loop. The value of each slider is the probability that the program will choose to generate a note on that 16th note when it generates a measure. The actual pitch it chooses for the note is determined by the current key and scale, as well as what the previously generated pitch was. If you look in the Scales.pde file you’ll see that for each pitch in a scale, I’ve encoded which steps in the scale are legal next notes. It’s a pretty crude melody building algorithm, but it does give the output a little bit more musicality. The drum beat is always the same, but there are three toggles that let you turn off the parts of the drum loop you don’t want to hear.

Some other things you can adjust are: tempo, shuffle (how much it “swings”), the waveforms used for the melody and bass lines, the volume of the melody and bass lines, and of course there is a button for randomizing the note probabilities.

Try it out!

Sound Byte: Noise Shaper

What started out as simply curiosity about what it would sound like to run a Noise UGen through a TickRate UGen and slow it way down, turned into this interesting sound generating sketch. I’m using modulated Noise to drive a WaveShaper. The waveform being used in the WaveShaper is a sustained chord from a Rhodes, but you’ll never quite be able to hear that. Essentially what this Sound Byte lets you do is scrub through small sections of the recording in random ways (since there is noise involved). Experiment with lots of different slider settings, there is surprising amount of variety that can be obtained. Have a look at the code to see exactly what you are controlling. Try out the settings in the screenshot above for a reasonably mellow sweeping formant sound with a really mesmerizing waveform.

Play with it!

The TickRate UGen

I’ve received several questions about the TickRate UGen that I’ve used in some recent Sound Bytes. Quite simply, this is a UGen that allows you specify an audio generation rate. Setting a rate of 1 means that the UGen patched to TickRate will be ticked every time that TickRate is. Setting a rate of 0.5 means that the UGen patched to TickRate will be ticked at half the rate of TickRate (every other sample). Setting a rate of 2 means that the UGen patched to TickRate will be ticked twice every time that TickRate is ticked. The sample frame that TickRate generates can either be the same as the most recently generated sample frame from the UGen patched to it, or you can have it interpolate between that sample frame and the next sample frame from the UGen patched to it. At low tick rates, non-interpolated audio will sound like it is being bit-crushed. Essentially, this UGen allows you to control the sample rate of any UGen patched to it, with the limitation that you won’t be able to patch the output of that UGen anywhere else. That limitation is not enforced, but if you do so, your audio will not sound correct.

As for where to get the TickRate UGen, you can either copy the file from the Minim GitHub repo, or you can pull the repo and build the library locally.

Sound Byte: String of Pearls

I had a cool idea about controlling a filter bank of bandpass filters, so I coded up this simple sketch. Each white pearl in this string of pearls represents a band pass filter. The horizontal position of each pearl controls the center frequency and the vertical position controls the bandwidth. You can click and drag around any of the pearls, including the red ones, which are simply anchor points for the string. The song is Lonely Rolling Star from the Katamari Damacy soundtrack.

Try it out.

Comments closed in the Minim Manual

I’ve decided to close comments on all of the Minim Manual pages because it just doesn’t feel like a good place to answer questions regarding particular sketches that people are working on. If you have questions about how to accomplish something, particularly if it involves interactivity, please take those questions to the Processing forum. I try to visit every now and again, but there’s a good chance that people who visit more regularly will be able to answer your question much more quickly than I! If you find an honest-to-goodness bug, please create an issue for it at the Processing Google Code page. I will try to get to it as quickly as I can.

Body Heat for iOS


I’ve been working on an iOS app for a little while called Body Heat. It was designed by Heather Kelley, with art by Amanda Williams. It is essentially a touch controller for audio-driven vibrators like the OhMiBod. However, even if you don’t have the hardware, the visuals for the app are quite pretty and it can be a fun little interactive experience. You can buy Body Heat from the App Store right now! Also worth mentioning is that the audio for the app is generated by a barebones port of Minim to C++, which I hope to eventually complete and release.