It just so happens that today, the 9th October 2015, means we have now been working in generative music for 25 years (our 26th year starts tomorrow!). Woo hoo!
It's a big milestone for us and we want to thank all of you who have, in one way or another, supported, helped or followed us over the years (and that most definitely includes our long suffering wives and families)!
We do hope that our apps and tools, if you have ever used them, have brought you much creative pleasure and many ideas - we make them for you.
Our nature is to look forward rather than back (there is always too much to do), we are not natural curators and over the years we have simply just forgotten way, way, way more than we can ever remember (some of the links below will let you find out more, if you are interested).
That said, let's take a very short trip into the annals of history. After all, why not, as today we are celebrating the last 25 years - which is actually not that long when you consider that generative music can play for ever!
Way back in 1992, after an initial period of development, we placed beta versions of SSEYO Koan in the hands of a select group of people. Rather naturally, we described the system's output as "Koan Music" for lack of something better or more original to call it. We referred to it like that all the way through SSEYO Koan Plus (1994) and into the first versions of SSEYO Koan Pro (1995).
All that changed with the release of Brian Eno's "Generative Music 1 with SSEYO Koan Software" (1996). Eno thankfully coined and used the term "Generative Music" instead. Being "brand free", and frankly a much better descriptive term, has meant it has stood the test of time and so it is still in widespread use today. We remain grateful to him for many reasons, including how his collaboration with us has helped give our work a greater profile; today that profile still helps people discover us at Intermorphic and allows us to continue pushing back the frontiers in generative music and its applications.
We did a lot more at SSEYO, of course, including releasing the "drag 'n' mix" Koan X, two fabulous content titles called Float by Timothy Didymus and Niskala by David Muddyman (Jamuud), Koan Essentials Morphing Drum n' Bass and even SSEYO miniMIXA (after Tao Group acquired SSEYO in 2002 and which then sadly passed away in 2007). There was much, much more, too, but all that is now long gone history, so let's move on from SSEYO to what happened next.
Over the last 7+ years at Intermorphic (co-founded in 2007) we've created a generative music engine we call the Noatikl Music Engine (NME) and tighly integrated sound engine we call the Partikl Sound Engine (PSE). The NME is the "evolution of Koan" and it can even play SSEYO Koan SKD files created right back to 1992! Over the years these engines have gone from strength to strength.
We've also created a number of generative music apps/tools that feature the NME and PSE, namely: Noatikl, Mixtikl, Wotja and Tiklbox Relax; the engines are even in Liptikl (but they don't currently do anything in that).
We appreciate that some of our tools may be a little bit too "deep" and opaque, but that is just reflective of how life is not really that simple and is full of decisions and challenges - and we like to keep it real (it is actually because we are severely time and resource constrained, but we are always striving to improve things!).
Although we have been active in this space for almost 25 years now, as we said above, we really only have time to push ahead ... and there is an absolute ton of stuff we want to do there, that's for sure, so we are going to continue doing just that. So...
We tend not to pre-announce things and we are not big talkers; we try to leave that space free for creators and communicators using our tools. And, besides, that would be saying, wouldn't it? :).
However, as this is such a special day for us we will break with tradition and (uncharacteristically) give some clues as to where we are heading. :)
We have been beavering away for a while now on some things that we hope might unlock the beginnings of a new and personalised "wotja" artform - a generative / inmo "communication" which anyone can quickly and easily make and share/publish.
A joined up tool chain that facilitates the deep customisation of the generative music and sounds used in Wotja (via "round-tripping" to Noatikl) will provide a new outlet for sound designers and composers and let them bring something very creative, unique and special to this new artform.
So, to kick all this off you should soon see new Noatikl and Mixtikl apps that feature significant updates to the Partikl Sound Engine (PSE). We will then follow those releases with an update to Wotja that will let allow wotjas to be customised with Noatikl pieces.
Our reaching this anniversary is in no small measure down to the early efforts and contributions made by all those who worked for SSEYO and the Tao Group Audio team, and we thank them deeply. We give especial and deep thanks to Timothy Didymus and Mark Harrop who both work closely with us at Intermorphic, and also to all our customers and "communicators". The road of survival in our niche area has most often been a bumpy and difficult one, to say the least, and we know we would not be here today were it not for that help from all those wonderful people (see our Noatikl Credits page for more thanks and links).
Finally, we greatly appreciate your interest in our efforts so far and we hope you continue to follow our journey over the next 25 years, too - there is lot's more to come from us yet!
Tim and Pete
P.S. We always look forward to receiving feedback or suggestions on how we can improve our apps and tools for you. If you wish to provide that, we simply ask that you do that via our contact form.
Ever since we co-founded SSEYO in October 1990, Pete and I have been working on Generative Music technology, tools and apps. Even though we have been active in this space for almost 25 years now, we are still pushing ahead and doing new things.
Wotja 2 and the Wotja Watch App for Apple Watch represents another big step forward for us. It has taken all of what we have done in the past and knowledge and experience gained through doing that to get to this point. Why? Because, simply put, Wotja needs a lot under the hood to do what it does.
When we decided to build the Wotja Watch App we knew it had to be a powerful app in its own right: it had to allow user control of the composition in some meaningful way. In other words, it had to allow you to actually create music with. Yes, we know that a paired Apple Phone is where the audio composition actually happens, but all the same... the Wotja Watch App leverages the smarts in Wotja for iOS.
Remembering that in Wotja, the text generates the melody, we found that their were 3 principal ways to achieve that:
We also found there were 3 secondary factors that did not affect the composition per se (although, depending on how the Player is set up, it can) but that made a big sonic difference to what you got and so affected the overall composition: These were:
On top of that, we wanted to allow a very fast and easy way to create new wotjas - and this is where the Shuffle button comes into its own. The thing about shuffling things up, though, is to make sure you only shuffle what you want to be shuffled. So, we added some toggles that allow you choose whether some key things can be shuffled or not. With those, when you hit the shuffle button you know exactly what will be shuffled.
We also took the opportunity to prune the embedded content to make sure that just the most relaxing of players and backing were included. And, we added a Sleep timer so you could have Wotja play for just as long as you wanted before it faded away. This can be useful for e.g. sleep, relaxation, meditation, yoga etc.
Finally ... we also wanted to make it easy to share a wotja that you made in Wotja Watch. We tried getting "handoff" working, but in the end had to leave that for another day.... you can still open Wotja on your iPhone and share your wotja from that - and we would encourage you to do just that! We will try to retweet the best ones we see.
See here for some tips on how to share a wotja with a picture or text.
Tim and Pete
P.S. There is actually a load more we are planning for Wotja, so this is still early days for the app - watch this space!
P.P.S. We are now working on improvements to the Partikl Sound Engine that is in all our apps. We can't wait to get that finished and out for you!
In this blog post we are featuring Michael Futreal https://twitter.com/twangdarkly (@twangdarkly), a composer, performer, and instrument builder currently based out of Shreveport, Louisiana, USA. Using handmade dulcimers, flutes, guitars, and other instruments, he performs and records with his trio Twang Darkly, and has recently made forays into film with score work for a pair of independent feature films Coldwell Spring and Counting for Thunder.
Michael and Twang Darkly focus primarily on improvisational modal music, a fluid approach in which structure and harmony arise primarily out of interactions between melodic lines based around fixed scales, often with an accompanying drone environment to contextualize the lines (as opposed to chord progressions). The approach is perfectly suited to generative music software, and Michael has been a user of our software since the SSEYO Koan days.
"For years I've used SSEYO/Intermorphic tools in my 'lab' as virtual musicians to whom I could 'explain' the rules of particular modalities and then have them provide experimental soundscapes over which I could develop and explore musical pathways," says Futreal. Generative music helps him develop the rulesets which govern pieces that the trio plays live. "In a way," my trio operates very much like an Intermorphic generative music system, and I've used Koan Pro and, more recently, Noatikl to delve deeper into refining a practical approach to playing modal music live."
Very recently, Michael has actually been making Noatikl for iOS a partner in his live performance setup, thanks to its power and portability on iPad. He first gave Noatikl its live break at some recent art venue performances to which bass/guitar player Joel Boultinghouse couldn't make it. For a few pieces, he made Noatikl a substitute member of the trio, and, as the clips here demonstrate, the software performed quite nicely alongside his homemade bamboo flutes and the trio's inventive percussionist, Lane Bayliss. Joel now jokingly refers to the Noatikl software as the "iJoel."
The first Twang experiment with Noatikl:
A subsequent outing:
Overall, Futreal is optimistic about the potential for using Noatikl both in a live and studio context. "It's so much more interesting to have a generative system at work than to work against canned backing tracks or loops — it can really fit into a living musical performance in an organic way." And he plans to keep using the software as an experimental partner in the studio context. "The Noatikl approach to music resonates with my modal interests and gives me numerous ways to explore ideas quickly."
There are 3 new Timothy Didymus generative music installations coming up - be sure to try to get to one if you can! He is using MIDI note information generated from Noatikl for a piece called Harmonica Automata. Noatikl will be driving his hand built midi-controlled chromatic Glass Harmonica automata live.
Check out a a video of the Glass Harmonica sound installation: http://youtu.be/NNwBr6wAyaA.
Check out a recording of his Glass Harmonica on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/didymus/glaz-ouija.
Tickets: By invitation only (see link below)
Gig Info: http://wtf2014.beatabet.net/WTF2014.html
Tickets: These have unfortunately already sold out!
Gig Info: http://fortprocess.co.uk/
Post Event Review: The Quietus
Tickets: Free: No tickets required!
Hot news: The BBC interviewed Timothy at the event about the Glass Harmonica. Listen to the interview at the bottom of Ashburton Festival page.
After rather a long time in the works we yesterday released Mixtikl 6 for iOS, as well as Android versions for both the Amazon Appstore and (at long last) Google Play. We also released Noatikl 2.5 to boot! See the Noatikl and Mixtikl forums for full details on what is in each.
We wanted to improve the reliability of our apps and to that end we have now integrated HockeyApp. This will be in all future app releases as it lets us find out *fast* about any crashers, meaning we can look to fix them fast.
Another thing we wanted to do was to make it much easier to share content between all the different versions of Mixtikl and Noatikl - that was a lot of work but that is now done. All files in Mixtikl 6 / Noatikl 2.5+ are saved to the "Intermorphic/" folder e.g. Mac: ~/Music/Intermorphic. Using a flat folder means it should now be a snap to share between apps. (see here for more info on transfering files).
There is a lot of shared capability under the hood in this release, which is one of the reasons why all these apps came out at once. One of the things under the hood is the improved Wavetable Unit. The Wavetable unit now makes it easy to use SoundFonts, and we also include 6 new wavetables in the above releases - great quality SF2 files for Drums Acoustic, Piano Upright, Piano Electric, Guitar 12-String, Synths, E-Perc.
Being able to support SoundFonts means that you can now use your own (if you can make your own!), or use some purchased from some third party, made available on a CD etc etc. There are loads of SF2 out there, meaning you can quickly and easily extend the sound palette you have at your disposal for creating generative music.
We hope you enjoy the latest releases and updates, and future ones to come. Thank you for using our apps!
On Saturday 15th March Timothy Didymus is performing live at The Marlborough Theatre, Brighton UK, with Lewis Forder and Alice Jones (XPERIMENT/PUBLIK).
It is a small, intimate gig, and he is using Noatikl to play his hand built midi-controlled chromatic glass harmonica automata live.
There are a small number of tickets going at £5 each, so get one now if you want to go!
Check out a recording of his glass harmonica on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/didymus/glaz-ouija.
Gig Info: here
For XPERIMENT/PUBLIK see: http://www.xperimentpublik.com/.
Scots-born Canadian Laurence Stevenson is a retired, international award-winning radio producer. He is also a mobile music creator who likes things spare and sloooooow, with no audio clutter.
He's been using our software since the days of Koan. Way back then he was using it to create sonic beds for his CBC Radio Show (Outfront). These days he has transitioned to using Noatikl Mobile and Mixtikl Mobile.
For fun, he runs a late-night radio show on his local community station where he puts out "The Arms of Morpheus - The Sleep Show". This is broadcast at midnight, 3 nights of the week (currently Sun, Mon and Tues). He's uploaded recordings of his shows to PRX, and they are definitely worth a good long listen. Get ready to kick back as there are 34 so far, each about 1 hour long :).
"The Arms of Morpheus": https://www.prx.org/p/112493.
Rather incredibly, he creates these shows on iPad and records them on an ancient netbook using Adobe Audition. Typically his process is to use 3 mobile apps concurrently. Outputs are layered simultaneously in real time via Audiobus where FX and looping are added to taste (AUFX:Dub and AudioReverb mainly).
He uses a number of apps, but the mainstay of his setup is Mixtikl (used all by itself) or Noatikl for driving, via MIDI, whatever synth tickles his fancy that day. His favourite synth apps to use with Noatikl are: Alchemy, Animoog, Addictive, M3000HD (mellotrons!), Magellan, Sunrizer and Thor.
When he hasn't totally maxed out his 16gb with free apps du jour, he loads on SampleTank for things like vibes, etc. Ambient sounds he usually records with his Tascam recorder hung out of the window wherever he is.
If you want to hear what our apps can help with or are just a big fan of ambient or drone, then check out a master at work. In fact, just check out his recordings whatever!
In his words: "Thank you for making this kind of thing possible."
In our words: "Thank you for making and sharing it - here's the link again!"
"The Arms of Morpheus": https://www.prx.org/p/112493.