The Granular Synthesis of Curtis Roads

Watch Motherboard – The Granular Synthesis of Curtis Roads

This is a pretty amazing video. Granular Synthesis I can wrap my head around (imagine a more complex version of additive synthesis, but on a micro-scale), but what really amazes me is Curtis Roads was doing it in 1975 on a mainframe with punchcards. You heard me. How much more nerdcred does this guy need? Ok, lemme back up for a minute. I am, actually, old enough to know what punchcards are (but, keep in mind I was like 5 years old and hanging out at my mom’s company to learn about them). Back in the day (and my intro to computer science teacher in college was amazing because he explained this to us and made us basically write out our algorythms before we came to class to program them), a programmer would have to write out a program in its entirety and then wait for days sometimes, to get the program to execute. This is totally the opposite of people can work today, where they can see the results of a coding change realtime, or, on the web, with a simple page refresh. Pretty leet, I gotta say.

Check out this video–even an Autechre song makes a cameo (but, I would add to the video’s description that what made Autechre and similar IDM artists’ work so mindblowing wasn’t simply due to complex rhythms, it was that plus the unheard-of-before combination of electronically-generated revolutionary sounds while still maintaining a “more accessible” composition in terms of melody and so forth. At some point Roads says he considers his music “point, line, cloud” because a grain, or sound particle is a point, a series of points on either or both the x or y axis, and a cloud,–IMHO–is actually “a left-to-right series of chords”) BECAUSE CURTIS ROADS OPENED FOR THEM in the early 00s. Uh-huh.

He also recommends a book for sound-design inspiration. It’s called Education of a Gardener. Really. Just go watch this thing, ok?
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Programmer chat rap battle


Nerd humor has a special place in my heart, obviously. Nerdcore Hiphop is a definite phenomenon that’s not just a web-based one–check out a Halloween Nerdcore Compilation by Rhymetorrents, MC Frontalot, MC Plus+, and Optimus Rhyme for starters, and it’s funny to see the chat version–the nerdiest delivery option, imho.

Here’s a bit from an online rap battle done over chat:

You talk like your big on these I-Net kicks,
But your shit flows slower than a two-eighty-six.
I’m tracking down hosts and nmap scans,
While Code Igniter’s got you wringing your hands.

Brian Eno to create generative soundtrack for Spore

creature.gif Brian Eno, widely credited with being the prime influential force behind modern ambient music, has taken an innovative approach to his voluntary conscription as soundtrack creator for the multi-platform, soon to-be-released video game from the creator of the Sims, Spore.

Essentially a “game of life” on steroids, Spore, allows the player / creator to create a virtual lifeform / civilization world in essentially a procedural content generation-al game. For the uninitiated, that means that the game evolves according to the procedures–or sets of actions that you (as the player / programmer) create. First you have to battle it out to survive as a protozoa in primordial ooze, then as a freakish creature, then control a tribe of them … and eventually end up exploring out in space.

The compositions created by Eno’s algorithm (via a device he calls “The Shuffler”) will never be the same over an entire lifetime.

Here’s a video of Eno and the creator of Spore, Will Wright, as they explain the concept behind the game and the music.