I've tried building a few generative music things and it seems the musical output of things that are computationally interesting often isn't musically interesting.

I've been messing with cellular automata and music and the output is either too random or nothing special that I couldn't have just made other ways


the wireworld sequencer I'm building for norns is probably gonna be different, but the difference there is that it's having an idea for an instrument (music through creating circuits, inspired by noteblock composition) that uses a computation rather than the computation being the point

livecoding is awesome but that is also a case of instrument-of-computation rather than computation-as-instrument

@paul the wireworld thing? I've no idea if it'll ever come to fruition - right now it's just a kinda bad lua implementation of wireworld. (I don't actually have a norns rn, I'm working with norns in docker. I would just do it for PC but I haven't found an instrument-building environment on the PC that isn't heavily limited and/or a pain to use in one way or another and the norns environment seems pretty decent)

@nihilazo at first glance, this looks like a flavor of cellular automata. How are you planning on translating it to music?

@paul it's a cellular automata but I'm going to have points that, when they change state, will emit events. I did something similar for GoL a while ago and it was too unpredictable but wireworld behaves like a simplified thing like an electronic circuit, so you can have a clock generator going through some logic or whatever. I got the idea from wanting something like minecraft's noteblocks, but wireworld is a far more consistent and simpler system than redstone

@paul it'll probably end up just being a kinda awkward way to make basic sounding stuff, tbh

@paul on second thoughts, it's maybe not the best idea. I dunno. I like building instruments and I like making music but I have been running low on ideas and following projects that, now I think more about them, don't really make sense.

@nihilazo making cellular automata translate well into music can be tough! There's a lot of information to translate into sound. Temporal sound stuff doesn't have the same informational bandwidth as a giant matrix or grid.

The best attempt saw at getting CA to work was actually a monome Grid demo done in ChucK. It was interactive, which was fun, and it moved very fast, making a single blip for every frame state. It ended up being this very satisfying granular sound.

The thing that makes things like CA interesting is emergent behavior from a simple set of rules. It also encourages nonlinear thinking, which is great when you are stuck.

To get to that point musically may require thinking more about representing state as something more temporal rather than spatial right from the get-go, using musical vocabulary. Thinking about single note event mappings might be too granular. Perhaps there's some intermediate process which feeds to more compound musical structures like rhythm and melody? And timbre maybe too? That's where my head would be at.

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