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Blog archive for November 2004

CloudGenerator progress

November 2, 2004

The CloudGenerator port continues to move forward in a series of small steps. I’ve got granulation of sound files working but there’s still some adjustments to do before I’m done. I’ve also figured out how to create glissons (grains with pitch changes inside each of the grains) and synthetic grain generation using various wavetables as waveshapes.

The challenge at the moment is to find a stringent way of developing that makes it as easy as possible to transform the patch into an API for experimental non-real-time granulation later on.

Introduction to Scheme

November 2, 2004

Introduction to Scheme a LISP variant. One of the things I want to check out on the Linux platform at some stage.

via p1k5el


November 2, 2004

The building next door to C. Sundsgt. 55 where my office is is currently being completely rebuilt from office bulidings to posh harbour side expensive flats. When I first moved into my office I enjoyed the hushed sound of cars passing by on the street below. But I don’t fancy the sound of the compressor drill that I’ve had to listen to for the last week. If this is going to go on for the next two years I’ll have to consider sound insulating the room.

Lecture on the history of electronic music

November 4, 2004

Today I was giving a lecture at The Grieg Academy on the history of electronic music. It’s not easy to condense the subject to a 2 hour presentation but I’ve had fun lately googling for images to use.

Rough scetch of subjects touched upon:

  • Early electronic instruments (Telharmonium Theremin Ondes Martenot)
  • Futurism. The Art of Noise
  • Development of mass media. The Gramophone. Radio. Film.
  • Musique Concrète
  • The studio of Westdeutche Rundfunk in Köln.
  • Stockhausen: gesang der Junglinge. Kontakte.
  • The Philips Pavilion
  • Tape Centers in the 50s and 60s.
  • Minimalism
  • Ambient Music
  • DJ. Sampling. Turntableism.

Lots and lots left out….

I also attempted to discuss how electronic music is to be defined. According to Holmes “the stuff of electronic music is electrically produced or modified sounds”. An alternative and very wide way of looking at electronic music would be to consider a field expanding outwards to any kind of music or sound experience that is in some way influenced or touched by the precense of electronic media for sound (re)production. It’s probably difficult to find music in current Western society that is not in some way influenced and altered by the existence of electronic media for sound recording storing processing distibution distribution and reproduction.

The IRCAM Real-Time Applications team releases FTM 1.0.

November 5, 2004

FTM is a shared library for Max/MSP providing a small and simple
real-time object system and optimized services to be used within
Max/MSP externals.

FTM = data structures
      + visualization/editors
      + file import/export (SDIF MIDI …)
      + operators (expressions and externals)

The basic idea of FTM is to extend the data types exchanged between the
objects in a Max/MSP patch by complex data structures such as
sequences matrices dictionaries break point functions tuples and
whatever might seem helpful for the processing of music sound and
motion capture data.

FTM home page:
FTM intro:

Via the MaxMSP list


November 9, 2004

New Max abstraction that’s similar to uzi but with three major differences:

  • Counts from 0 to N-1 instead of counting 1 to N.
  • Introduces small breaks (delays and defers) during the iteration process. For heavy and time consuming tasks this keeps Max responsive along the way and prevents “the spinning wheel”.
  • Fourth outlet reports progress (0 → 1).

To be released as part of a future upgrade to tl.objects.

Watchdog card for Max patches

November 10, 2004

Last fall I was participating in a workshop on sound installations in Oslo. Tim Place wrote a summary of what was going on. One of the presentations was by Sigurd Saue of the Norwegian company Soundscape. Soundscape has been involved in the technical development of a number of permanent sound installations and interactive sound solutions for museums around Norway during the last years. Most of them depends on Csound running on either a Windows system or Linux.

During his presentation Sigurd emphasized the need for stability in this kind of long-duration installations and how to improve stability and reduce the need for maintenance. One of the solutions he particularly recommended was the use of watchdog cards for monitoring the computer and force a restart if the computer or the application froze or crashed.

I’ve never seen this topic touched on the Max mailing list so I asked for recommendations a while ago. I don’t get any recommendations back then and searching the net I didn’t immediately find any relevant products supporting Mac OSX (non-server) but I didn’t try that hard. Today Michael Zbyszynski is asking at the list if anyone has tried Kick Off. It sure looks interesting. Sophisticated Circuits also have a more advanced solution the PowerKey Pro Model 650.

It should be pretty straight forward to implement Max support for Kick Off. Kick Off can be controlled by means of a simple Apple Script. TapTools provides support for Apple Script in Max so this should be really easy.

If I can get it in time it would be interesting to test for the upcoming Electrohype exhibition. The installation is going to run for 8 weeks so stability will be an important issue.

Update: It’s expensive though. In Norway it’s available through Officeline and the price is close to NOK 2500 -.


autofasurer blog

November 10, 2004

autofasurer is an artist-collective which researches the integration of design concepts and synthesis with programmed 3d systems. They’ve started publishing works and work in progress as a blog.

Since the end of the Nato/NN era I’ve missed artists using Max++ sharing their work on an ongoing basis on the web. The Max list itself is very much back to technical discussions only. This makes it more difficult to tune in on what’s happening around the world.

Music for Airports

November 10, 2004

The century of airplanes has a right to its own music.

Claude Debussy


November 10, 2004

Teabox released

November 11, 2004

Electrotap has announced the release of Teabox “an innovative high-speed interface for connecting sensors to your computer using a digital audio connection as the transport.”

They’ve been working on it for quite some time. This must be one of the very best solutions available at the moment for sensor interfacing. Congratulations!

Sonification of tidal waves

November 11, 2004

One year of waterlevel measurements at the port of Bergen as sound.

Example 1
Example 2

ICMC report

November 14, 2004

Tim Place has reported on the recent ICMC at his blog.


November 14, 2004

I’m getting really tired of the artificial sound and formants imprinted on granulated sounds due to the windowing functions used for the grains. I’ve been listening to these sounds a lot lately as I keep working on gRainy Days the Jitter based granulation system that started of as a port of CloudGenerator. At the moment I’m desperate at trying various window functions to see if it’s possible to minimize artefacts. How the different windows behave probably depends a lot on the sound material I’m working on as well as what densities and grain sizes I’m using.

Some of the windows have additional problems when used for granulation as they don’t reach zero at the end points. This might introduce digital clicks. For synthetic granulation the clicks might only appear at the end of the window (as a sinus function starting of at zero is used). For granulation of audio buffers the clicks might appear at the beginning and the end of the window. CloudGenerator uses a gaussian curve scanning the function from -3 to 3.000 Hence the gain at the end points of the window is down by ca. 20 dB only compared to the middle point. When working on granulation of audio buffers CloudGenerator has very pronounced artefacts with a strong dependency on the density of the grains. I suspect that this is not only due to spurious frequencies and formants introduced by the window in itself but also clicks at start and end points introducing frequencies of their own (for instance if using 300 synchonized grains per second I risk a possible artificial frequency of 300 Hz with a rich set of harmonics).

I haven’t seen this issue raised in discussions on what windows to use for granulation but it’s obvious that if e.g. Gaussian or Hamming is used they should be modified at the ends to ensure that they reach zero properly.

I’ve kept adding window functions to the tl_window java class. So far these windows are implemented: Hamming Hanning Bartlett (Triangle) Blackman BlackmanHarris Gaussian Kaiser Square Sinc CosineAlpha CosineTaper and Trapezoid.


gRainy Days: 1rst phase completed

November 15, 2004

I can hardly believe it! I’ve completed the first phase of the development of gRainy Days my Max/Jitter-based API for non-real-time granulation synthesis. All features of the OS9 application CloudGenerator are now implemented with several additions.

Complaining yesterday seemed to help for the rest of the evening I made one interesting sonic texture after another. I get the impression that tweeking of parameters is the key to getting interesting results. Also using asyncronous grain distribution drastically reduces distortions resembling amplitude modulations/chorus/phasor.

Some tidying up to do but that can wait:

  • A way to cancell processing midway through.
  • Implement custom menubar???
  • Ability to granulate stereo files (moono only at current).
  • Ability to store presets.

According to Curtis Roads (private communication) the Statistical Evolution progress when granulating buffers seldom produced interesting results. That surprised me cause I’ve used similar strategies a lot for the last year in real time thanks to the vdb~ abstraction part of

bennies parts of the real-time IRCAM forum.

For future development here’s some ideas I have (so that I don’t forget about it):

  • Statistical Evolution with normal instead of uniform distribution of uniform (more subtle entrance and exit of sonic events).
  • Amplitude linked to deviation from mean position (also causing more subtle entrance and exit of sonic events).

I’m imagening that it should be possible to create sonic textures with really smooth and continuous transformations of timbral quality.

On the road again…

November 15, 2004

The equipment to be used for the installation at Electrohype was shipped today. It’s expected to arrive at Malmökunsthall next Monday. I’m leaving for Malmöon Sunday.

Stupid CD copy protection scheme

November 16, 2004

I bought the digitally remastered version of Brian Eno: Ambient 4: On Land today and discovered that it’s copy protected. It’s the first time I’ve bought a CD with a warning imprinted that it might not be able to play on my CD-player:

On some equipment for example car CD players playback problems may be encountered.

In fact EMI is not entitled to entitle the product a CD as it’s not in compliance to the CD standard).

What a turnoff!

Slightly annoyed I inserted it into my TiBoox Mac running OS X.10.3.6 to see how many ways I’d manage to copy the tracks and how long it would take.

  • First attempt: Open iTunes and import as mp3 or AIFF. Both works.
  • Next try importing audio from CD in Peak. Works.
  • The CD mounts on the desktop as two volumes one of them named Audio CD. Double-clicking it opens a folder with all 8 tracks displayed as AIFF. Copy and dragging them to the desktop turns out to be a fast way of ripping the CD….
  • Final attempt: Starting Roxio Toast. A plain forward disc copying would copy the first session only (the useless volume of the disc). However Copy Image files works fine: Drop the Audio CD volume onto Toast save as an disc image unmount the CD and burn the disc image to an empty CD-R.

And yes in Norway it is perfectly legal to make copy for your own use.

What is this ridicoluous scheme good for? The only thing EMI might achieve by this stupid and non-working copy protection scheme is to destroy the car CD player of its customers.

Besides it’s a strange paradox to encounter this copy protection scheme on a record made by the artist that also created My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

Consumers Against Copy Control

Cassini discovers music of the rings

November 16, 2004

Saturn’s magnificent ring system – a huge disc resembling an old gramophone record – turns out to share another property with the LP: it constantly emits a melodic series of musical notes.

Source: New Scientist


November 18, 2004

For several years I’ve thought of creating a short sound each day as an etude in sound design/synthesis/processing. Yesterday I realized that I’ve been doing that for a long time already without really being aware of it and without saving or storing the various sounds I’m creating.

Here’s a sound based on a recording of a strong river processed in various ways and played back asyncronous in two channels using jit.peek~ to morph between diffent processed versions of it. The result to me sounds like various soft sweeps passing in one or the other direction. That’s a perceptive illusion somewhat similar to the phase techniques Steve Reich used in the 60s.

The original sound file was part of material used for Norway Remixed. The current work is part fo the development for the upcoming installation in collaboration with Kurt Ralske at Electrohype.


Equipment has arrived in Malmö

November 19, 2004

Just got a SMS from Lars of Electrohype informing me that the equipment shipped has arrived at Malmökunsthall.

New Eno record

November 29, 2004


Just back from Malmö

November 29, 2004

I’ve just arrived back in Bergen after 9 very busy days in Malmösetting up the Elektropoesia installaiton in collaboration with Kurt Ralske for Electrohype and then attending the two day conference yesterday and today. Internet access has been limited at times and time even more limited. More to come…

The making of Elektropoesia

November 30, 2004

The last couple of weeks before the opening of the Electrohype me and Kurt Ralske was exchanging ideas and material on almost daily basis mainly using Skype and the intranet services of the BEK web servers. It was interesting to experience how the collaboration and the ongoing discussion during the development phase felt as close as in other projects I’ve been involved with in spite of me being situated in Bergen and Kurt in New York.

The image above is me projecting a sample movie from Kurt at my office a few days before leaving for Malmö. The technical equipment was already shipped so I had to make do with the two loudspeakers left in Bergen.

I arrived in MalmöSunday a little more than a week ago. The equipment had already arrived at the Malmökunsthall. In a few hours everything was unpacked and I’d connected all loudspeakers etc. One day ahead of the planned schedule.

The room used for the installation was custom built for this exhibition dimensions approx. 8 × 5 meters with double walls 1 meter apart from each other to prevent sound leaking in and out of the room.

Very early on in the development phase Kurt had signaled that he wanted to work on a wide strip of video (2048 × 240 pixels) using two projectors mounted next to each other to project the images. Responding to this I decided to create a line of loudspeakers instead of positioning them in two- or three-dimensional space. My first idea was to have the loudspeakers at the opposite wall of the projections. This was abadoned as I realised that the audience most likely would stand facing the projection. Humans are not as good at trace the position of sounds approaching from behind as if they approach from a localisation in front of you.

Initially I planned on positioning the loudspeakers standing vertical in a normal position. Monday it suddenly occured to me that if I tilted them sideways I’d be able to make a continuous line of the loudspeakers. The speakers are close to 50 cm tall. With 16 loudspeakers all together that would fill all of the wall. It turned out to be a few centimeters left at each side just enough to get space for the cabling required.

The support for the artists exhibiting was outstanding all the way both from Anna and Lars at Electrohype and the staff at the Malmökunsthall. Before leaving for MalmöI was unsure if I would have to paint the room myself. It turned out that all practical tasks to prepare the room was taken care of by the staff in an excellent way most of the time without me having to ask at all. Here the shelf that loudspeakers would rest had been mounted and the the shelf and the wall below being painted dark gray.

I’d initially asked for the room to be dark. The Kunsthall prefered it to be dark gray as it would make it a lot easier to change to a brighter color later on. The color suggested by them turned out to work just as good maybe better.

With loudspeakers positioned the placement of the projection was adjusted so that the two projections (both using the same kind of projector 2500 ANSI lumens) was the same size properly mounted and in line. The upper and lower edges of the projection was marked masked and the wall was then painted dark gray below and above the projection area.

During the first two days working at the gallery I was asked several times if the projection was supposed to be so small in the the vertical direction. As soon as the wall was painted I never got this question anymore. The room clearly signaled that the size was intentional and I don’t think anyone thought of questioning it anymore. Also the projection was positioned further down on the wall that when the projectors was first mounted. This quite changed the physical impact of the projection. Now almost at eye level the physical impact of the movements of the images was felt to be a lot stronger.

The sound for the installation was developed in parallell based on material prepared before leaving. Placement of sound along the line of loudspeakers was mainly done using ambisonics in Max thanks to the ambipan~ object.

When Kurt was arriving after the press preview Thursday last week the work on the room was more or less complete. We spent the afternoon looking through the video material and listening to the various possibilities for sound that I had prepared and finding out how to do final tuning of video and audio to match. Once again I experienced what a difference to the final result this kind of fine tuning makes. Friday was spent implementing the decisions we had made preparing the Max patches for simple maintenance during the lifespan of the exhibition (8 weeks) backing up all data in case of severe crashes etc. The vernisage in the evening was well attended and Saturday the exhibition had 900 visitors. Not bad in Malmöa city with a population of 270.000.