bored? try soundtoys.net


I've been asked required to give a presentation in my artsy sound art class on web-based interactive sound art, so here are a couple of applications from soundtoys.net (as suggested by my professor).


Contrapuntus Variations


What drew me to this application was that anyone could create music or sound without any musical training. This reminded me of Jason Freeman's "Compose Your Own" article in the New York Times's Opinionator blog, except he inadvertently selected composer contributions as his favorites. Oops.


As stated on the first page, "Contrapuntus allows visitors to generate their own musical contribution, which may be part of a live performance from the Third Angle New Music Ensemble."


Wait, what?



Whoa, when are they doing this? Not this season, but you should check out their season anyway. Too bad I don't live in Portland, OR.


Anyway, back to the application. On the next page you are asked to "Select an Accompaniment" and you have the options "Two Violins," "Four Piece," and "Metronome."


The first time around, I selected the "Two Violins" accompaniment. (Thankfully this is turned off when you begin. When you click on "Mute Accompaniment," you hear the first two voices of "The Art of the Fugue." Guess what you hear when you click "Four Piece?" I find this distracting. Fortunately with "Metronome" you have a somewhat cool metronome beat, albeit it does sound like a metronome.)


You are asked to choose an instrument (violin 1, violin 2, viola, or cello), which you are allowed to change once you have started the application. You are then instructed to move your cursor around an orange space, and you will "play notes" by hitting specific spots on the webpage. The higher the cursor, the higher the notes. If you more your cursor to the right-hand side, your notes are mainly diatonic (or literally white-key notes) for the most part. (I did hear one low B-flat when I was "playing" the violin and viola parts, but this was the only exception.) If you move your cursor to the left-hand side, the pitches are chromatic. The other varient is that the cello's higher pitches are played pizzicato, which does change the timbre.


When you play/perform this piece, the site records a loop, and I believe you can record as many loops as you want. You can then save your contribution and send it to Third Angle, and you can also send this to a friend. I did send this contribution to myself, but the hyperlink in my email did not work.


"Periodic Rhythm" by philip gaedke



(For this application, make sure you have Adobe Shockwave Player. Also, for some reason, it's slower on Google Chrome. Try Firefox. Wait, it just crashed on me.)


Instructions:

Move the mouse on stage to disturb the system; do not move the mouse to restore original rhythm. Interaction: Mouse over white squares eliminates preys, Mouse over red squares eliminates predators The predator and prey populations grow exponentially. The predator (red squares moving vertical) needs to eat prey (moving horizotal) in order to grow. So the population growth rate of the predator depends upon the prey density. When all prey individuals have been removed, the predator individuals starve and their population decreases. The prey population grows back faster than the predator. The system stays dynamic without any outer influence. After the system has been disturbed, by user interaction for example, it will allways fall back to its original rhythm.

The white squares (prey) sound like high-pitched struck wooden sounds (like claves) and the red squares (predators) sound like lower synthetic buzzing noises. There's also a live chart that shows the ratio of prey to predator.


When you click or kill the white squares, you hear a synthetic pitched "ME;" when you click/kill the red squares, you hear an exclamatory (unpitched) "AH!"


I had my student play around with this application yesterday, and we noticed that when human interaction is involved, you hear the "human" sounds. Interesting...

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