Wotja Watch

Wotja Watch App arrives at last!

Wotja Watch

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:

  • Allow text to be entered on the Apple Watch via Siri.
  • Allow just a single emoji to generate a 3-4 note melody.
  • Allow control of the Melody Composition factors (light green tab) - all 8 of them. Through these factors you can define the way the melody is shaped and the overall "space" in your wotja.

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:

  • Tempo
  • Player selection
  • Backing selection

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!

Twang Darkly

Generative Music in Band Form

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."

Noatikl on the iPad Goes 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."

Didymus Harmonica

August to September 2014

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.

Timothy is an accomplished generative musician. Back in 1995-7 he used Koan Pro to create the generative music pieces in Float.

Timothy Didymus Glass Harmonica

30th August: WTF 2014 Festival, Falmer UK

Tickets: By invitation only (see link below)

Gig Info: http://wtf2014.beatabet.net/WTF2014.html

Sept 13th: Newhaven Fort, Newhaven, UK

Tickets: These have unfortunately already sold out!

Gig Info: http://fortprocess.co.uk/

Post Event Review: The Quietus

26th-27th September: Continual Tones, Ashburton, Devon UK

Tickets: Free: No tickets required!

Gig Info: http://ashburton-art-festival.squarespace.com/, info@ashburtonartfestival.org

Hot news: The BBC interviewed Timothy at the event about the Glass Harmonica. Listen to the interview at the bottom of Ashburton Festival page.

Didymus Harmonica

Now with Soundfont support & MIDI out ... and much easier file sharing

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!

Didymus Harmonica

Hand-built Harmonica driven by Noatikl MIDI

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.

Tim is an accomplished generative musician. Back in 1995-7 he used Koan Pro to create the generative music pieces in Float.

Gig Info: here

For XPERIMENT/PUBLIK see: http://www.xperimentpublik.com/.

Blue sky

Radio show "The Arms of Morpheus"

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.

How does he do it?

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.