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Music - Traditional & Experimental

Although I studied music in college (CalArts, early 80s) I have produced only a trickle of original music since, my interests having gravitated more towards computer programming.

I still dabble in music like the enthusistic amateur that I am. I sing bass with a local acapella / madrigal group, The Ha'Penny Singers, I play keyboard in a cover band, The Retrofits, and I continue to play piano at home. I also use my technical skills to make experimental music of various kinds.

Computer Music

One of my earliest computer programs, dating from my CalArts days composed contrapuntal music (poorly) in the style of Palestrina.

In 1997, I read a lot of books about making computer-generated sounds. The result of this work was Syd, a graphical instrument editor and software synthesizer for the Macintosh, later ported to Windows.

Here is A MIDI version of Terry Riley's seminal piece 'In C'. I created this MIDI file using KeyKit, a MIDI programming language by Tim Thompson. The Keykit source code used to make this file (much shorter than the actual midi file) is here.

MIDI to Graphics

In the mid-90s I wrote a program, which creates real-time computer animation in response to a live MIDI data stream. In other words, when I play the piano, cool stuff happens on the computer screen that matches exactly what I'm playing.

This program worked by extracting various quantifiable musical elements from the MIDI data, such as note loudness, duration, pitch, rhythm, choice of chord, harmonic changes, etc and uses these numbers to control various graphical elements of the animation, such as number of objects, size, color, speed, direction of motion, etc.

I worked on an OpenGL version of this software that uses MIDI control in conjunction with my kaleidoscope programs.

Process music

Since around 2005, I've begun producing a number of pieces of experimental process music that combine visuals with music. These include

The Whitney Music Box

The Wheel of Stars

Musical Chess

I also wrote a paper about my research into a fascinating random music technique that dates from 1650.