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Blog archive for November 2009

Ableton Live and Zawinski’s Law

November 1, 2009

With a bit of help from Max4Live and the mxj environment for embedding java in Max, Nick Rothwell has ensured that Ableton Live obeyes Zawinski’s law.

ICST ambisonics tools v.2.0 beta 6

November 1, 2009


A new beta version of the ICST
ambisonics tools is available for download on the ICST website

Some highlights are:

  • Furse-Malham or N3D encoding/decoding
  • Up to eighth degree in N3D (the corresponding b-format has 81
  • Unified messages and attributes for ambiencode~, ambidecode~ and ambipanning~ externals
  • Four different coordinate systems in spherical or cartesian definitions are supported (see also
  • New distance attenuation algorithms, including none
  • Correct b-format orientation
  • Ported fully to the Max5 SDK (5.0.8+ required)

The support for various coordinate systems seems to be a follow up to discussions we did at s spatialisation workshop at GMEA in Albi in January, as well as the paper presented at SMC2009, available here. I am currently checking them out so that we can get the new beta release incorporated into the master branch of Jamoma.

The documentation for the objects is excellent. One minor detail has caught my interest: The orange color used in some of the help patches. I am sure that I have seen that color somewhere before…

Update: Jasch reports back that there’s no relationship to M4L.

Call for Participation: Int. Symposium on Ambisonics and Spherical Acoustics, 2010

November 4, 2009

2nd Int. Symposium on Ambisonics and Spherical Acoustics
May 6-7, Paris, France, 2010
ambi10 – First Call for Participation

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to announce the 2nd International Symposium on Ambisonics and Spherical Acoustics, which will be organized by IRCAM, together with LIMSI-CNRS and France Telecom/Orange Labs. The Symposium will be held to provide an intensive exchange between industrial and academic researchers working in various research areas on spherical acoustics.

The field of spatial sound reproduction is interdisciplinary by nature and closely related to a number of computer science and engineering areas such as acoustics, mathematics, signal processing, and perception. The symposium focuses on discussing the various problems and solutions concerning the capture, analysis, and re-synthesis of sound fields applying spherical acoustics; for example higher-order Ambisonics (HOA), and spherical microphone arrays.

The symposium is going to be divided into oral presentations (keynotes and submissions), poster sessions, and two demonstration sessions (artistic and technical). This symposium will benefit from a hemi-spherical loudspeaker array that will be installed for the duration of the symposium, which will be held in the Espace de projection, the variable acoustics performance hall of Ircam.

Original contributions are encouraged in, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • General considerations on spherical acoustics theory
  • Ambisonic for sound scene reproduction and virtual acoustic environments
  • Spherical microphone array systems and signal processing
  • Capture and analysis of radiation patterns
  • Spherical acoustic holography
  • Synthesis of directional and focused sound sources
  • Spherical loudspeaker array systems and signal processing
  • Theoretical considerations on comparative subjective and objective studies
  • Standardization, exchange, implementation and hardware issues


Submissions will be judged based on extended abstracts (1000 words). Procedures to submit papers, posters, and demo sessions are detailed at the symposium website Final papers must be camera-ready conforming to the format specified on the submission website.

Several excellent papers will be selected for collective submission to Acta Acustica united with Acustica. These papers will be expanded versions of the presented works, and will go through the standard peer review process.

The official language of the symposium is English.

Important dates

  • Extended abstract (1000 words) submission due: January 8th, 2010
  • Papers, Notification of acceptance due: February 19th, 2010
  • Camera-ready copy (full paper): March 12, 2010
  • Registration opens: March 22, 2010
  • Late Registration: April 12, 2010
  • Submission of Audio Material for Testing: April 19, 2010
  • Symposium Dates: May 6-7, 2010

Symposium Chairs

General Co-Chairs
Markus Noisternig (IRCAMUMR CNRS)
Rozenn Nicol (France Telecom – Orange Labs)

Technical Program Co-Chairs
Nicolas Misdariis (IRCAMUMR CNRS)
Olivier Warusfel (IRCAM)

Administration Chair
Sylvie Benoit (IRCAM)

You know your dad is an artist…

November 11, 2009

…when the math homework becomes an excuse for having to learn Max:

This week: Learning the multiplication table, 20 calculations a day…

Jamoma 0.5 Released

November 12, 2009

Jamoma is an open-source project for structured programming in Max/MSP/Jitter and is based on modular principles that allow the reuse of functionalities whereas all parameters remain customizable to specific needs.

Jamoma has been developed for more than five years and has been used for teaching and research within science and the arts. It has provided a performance framework for composition, audio/visual performances, theatre and installation gallery settings. It has been also used for scientific research in the fields of psychoacoustics, music perception and cognition, machine learning, human computer interaction and medical research.

Features include:

  • A large and peer-reviewed library of modules for audio and video processing, sensor integration, cue management, mapping, and exchange of data with other environments
  • Extensive set of abstractions that facilitates everyday work with Max/MSP
  • Specialized sets of modules for work on spatial sound rendering, including support for advanced spatialization techniques such as Ambisonics, DBAP, ViMiC and VBAP
  • Modules for work on music-related movement analysis
  • Powerful underlying control structures that handle communication across modules
  • Strong emphasis on interoperability
  • Native OSC support, thus making it easy to access and manipulate processes via external devices and interfaces
  • Comprehensive documentation through maxhelp-files, reference pages and growing number of online tutorials
  • Jamoma is easily extendable and customizable

Jamoma 0.5 was a major effort. Originally it was envisioned as a port from Max 4 to Max 5. However, we did a lot more than that, and significantly overhauled major portions of Jamoma to dramatically improve performance, stability (particularly on Windows), and ease of use. We have also improved the documentation, distribution, and organization of Jamoma.

Here are some resources to get started with Jamoma 0.5:

Requirements: Jamoma 0.5 requires Max 5.0.8, and works on OSX 10.4 or later (Intel) and Windows XP or later

Jamoma is licensed as GNU LGPL. Jamoma is an open source development initiative with more than 20 contributors. Development is supported by BEK – Bergen Center for Electronic Arts, CIRMMT – the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology, McGill University, Electrotap, GMEA – Centre National de Creation Musicale d’Albi-Tarn and University of Oslo with additional financial support from a wide range of institutions and funding bodies. Further details can be found here.

Video as moving wall paper

November 15, 2009

This week two days were spent participating at a staff seminar at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts on the subject of research in the arts. As part of the seminar we visited Vestlandets kunstindustrimuseum to see the exhibition “Vær så god sitt” (“Please be seated”), an exhibition of current Norwegian funiture design.

The exhibition is well worth seeing, but the part that really caught my attention was the design of the exhibition space itself. Along the walls slowly drifting video patterns became a moving wall paper, a visual analogy of the ambient music of Brian Eno, a visual musique d’ameublement. The video never forced itself on me, but the slow drift quietly invited a slowing down, creating a space for thinking. The video was accompanied by occasional ambient sound, blending in with the background noise from the streets outside the building.

Chairs and sofas in a museum could easily end up being objects in a contextual void, detatched from their usual environments. Sound and video invited me as visiter to imagine the spaces where the funiture might belong, while also hinting at how sound and video might be embedded in interior design and architecture.

Adding patchbay to studio

November 21, 2009

I’ve gotten myself a patchbay for the studio. This will mainly make it easier to swicth between the different sets of loudspeakers I have: A pair of studio monitors, 7 speakers for spatialisation, and a hemisphere speaker. Initial patchbay configuration below.

Another cool addition is that I have finally figured out how to set up internet tethering on the iPhone, so that I can be online while at the studio.

No OUT Mode IN
1 Mixer Main L N Genelec L
2 Mixer Main R N Genelec R
3 8284 mkII Analog 3 N B&W 1
4 8285 mkII Analog 4 N B&W 2
5 8286 mkII Analog 5 N B&W 3
6 8287 mkII Analog 6 N B&W 4
7 8288 mkII Analog 7 N B&W 5
8 8289 mkII Analog 8 N B&W 6
9 8290 mkII Analog 9 N B&W 7
10 8291 mkII Analog 10 N B&W Sub
11 Mixer Alt 3 N 828 mkII 3
12 Mixer Alt 4 N 828 mkII 4
13 8282 mkII Main Out L (1) N Mixer In 5
14 8283 mkII Main Out R (2) N Mixer In 6
15 Mixer Aux Send 1 N Lexicon L
16 Mixer Aux Send 2 N Lexicon R (Mono)
17 828 1 N Hemisphere 1
18 828 2 N Hemisphere 2
19 828 3 N Hemisphere 3
20 828 4 N Hemisphere 4
21 828 5 N Hemisphere 5
22 828 6 N Hemisphere 6
23 828 7 T Mixer In 3
24 828 8 T Mixer In 4


November 22, 2009

The Multiplayer by Marlon Schumacher is a MaxMSP-based application for general purpose multichannel file playback and ambisonic decoding, developed as part of the OMprisma Library for IRCAM’s OpenMusic 6.1.

It is implemented as a set of modules complying with the Jamoma framework.

Multiplayer 0.1b7 is now available as part of Ircam Forum.

Spat 4.1.5: Spat done right

November 23, 2009


Verison 4.1.5 of the Ircam Spat Max/MSP library for live spatialisation was released a week ago, as part of the Ircam Forum Studio software, available on a subscription basis. After some initial tests, I am really impressed: This is Spat done right.

Almost all functionalities have been turned into Max externals and the interface totally redesigned with easy to use access to complex sets of spatialisation techniques. And of course, it’s a bit thrilling to see DBAP included among the spatialisation techniques available. Here’s a list of changes in 4.x according to the Spat documentation itself:

Version 4.x of Spat~ is a major turning point in the software development (the code was completely rewritten) to provide flexibility in the program’s architecture and offer effective user interfaces. The main functions and the characteristics of the version 4.x are :

  • a large number of objects can be modulated and scaled (up to 64 inputs/outputs)
  • intuitive control interfaces facilitate the configuration of the loudspeakers setup and
    the manipulation of the sound sources
  • IrcamVerb: a new multichannel reverb (Stereo, 5.1, etc.) with the habitual control
  • a large family of panning techniques (quad, 5.0, octophony, simulation of XY, MS or
    AB recordings, VBAP 2D or 3D, DBAP, Ambisonic B-format and higher orders, 3D
    binaural with compensation of close field effects, surround LRS/LCRS, etc.)
  • improvement of the reverb quality (reverb tail is less “metallic”)
  • complete documentation of the externals and patches
  • takes full advantage of the new features of Max 5 (attributes, management of the
    presets with pattr)
  • modules for coding/decoding that manage different formats (ambisonic, transaural,
    surround, UHJ, etc.)
  • a better coherence in the architecture and the management of messages
  • low CPU consumption

Can I have an intergalactic air absorbtion filter please?

November 24, 2009


Received from Nils Peters

SMC Conference proceedings

November 29, 2009

All papers from past Sound and Music Computing Conferences are now available in one place, with search facility to search authors, titles, and the text of the abstracts.

Check it out here.


November 30, 2009

Max4Live was released recently. I haven’t spent much time checking it out yet, but just from opening Live and and looking at the Max4Live tutorials, the following quote seems acutely relevant:

The great benefit [of tools like Cubase] is that they remove the issue of skill, and replace it with the issue of judgement. With Cubase or [an imaging program like] Photoshop, anybody can actually do anything, and you can make stuff that sounds very much like stuff you’d hear on the radio, or looks very much like anything you see in magazines.

So the question becomes not whether you can do it or not, because any drudge can do it if they’re prepared to sit in front of the computer for a few days; the question then is: of all the things you can now do, which do you choose to do?

This is a whole issue for which there are not manuals! And nobody has actually discussed that side of it – they’re all so thrilled by the thought that I can do anything! The real interesting question of ‘So what do I do?’ isn’t being addressed.

This is why I say I’d rather talk about abstract things because that’s the kind of question that I want to talk about. We’re now in a sea of unmoored judgements. Of people thinking that the judgement part is the bonus, the bit you put on at the end, once you’ve got a good beat… I think that’s got to be right at the beginning of the process; it’s got to steer you all the way through.

Brian Eno