Monday, October 22, 2007

Music of Our Robotic Overlords

First let me introduce those of your reading this (ha ha I made a funny!) to a link where I have wasted a good portion of my time recently Wolfram Tones My dad the huge Mathematica groupie that he is found it and introduced me to it sometime last week. so I think the best way to start collecting my thoughts on it is by quoting his.

This is not particularly interesting music, and I think the approach is too naive. It values novelty too much, so there is too much surprise. I believe that music needs direction which is provided by some sort of predictability, usually supplied by rhythm and harmonic structure. Otherwise it becomes a sort of random walk and essentially boring after a little while.

I tried several manipulations, different instruments, rules, scales, meter, tempo, and duration. It was all noise because there was no structure. I don’t mean that the structure needs to adhere to any particular tradition, but if it doesn’t, it runs the risk of being too novel for the listener.

I think this is another example of engineers/scientists liking music but completely misunderstanding its nature, purpose, and practice.

So the question really is: can there be algorithmic music that is at least as interesting as a dog walking on its hind legs, or a woman preaching? (apologies to Samuel Johnson)

and in general I think I agree with him at least given the limited scope of Wolfram Tones. but I think there is a larger thing at work here. It is easy to forget that this is a very beta application meshing music and tone control on cellular automata by engineers and scientists with very little thought as to the musical merit of the automata themselves. I may be wrong but the impression I get is that they merely took existing cellular automata and allowed them to control tones, rather than looking for cellular automata. I think that algorithmic music has vast potential especially as the artists and musicians get their hands on it. This example, is certainly a case of Scientists and Engineers liking music but misunderstanding it However I think that the concept once worked on by people who do understand music (lord knows not I) start getting their hands algorithmic music it will be worthwhile and not merely a novelty.

and let me not say i dint try my hand at splicing some of it together pretty much randomly myself enjoy "Starving Wolfram at the Gates of Civilization"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

And so i make my triumphant return. admittedly a tad unceremoniously. with little to no fanfare (at least here on my so called blog) I moved across the country (the planning of this move is partially why I titled this blog between worlds although perhaps the unwritten subtitle in my head would have been better "The Insane Ramblings of a Mechanical Crumbum" (hence the URL)) from Washinton DC to the East Bay in California(about 5 miles north of Berkeley).

Its weird in some ways I am almost infinitely far away (in the only measure that really counts, time) from everyone and everything I once knew and in other ways I am right there with it all. a weird by-product of the internet age seems to me to be that meat-space travel has become, by contrast to mere communication, so slow and tedious as to be almost completely worthless. I mean actual travel, thats a day at the least, and add in the planning needed and the packing and the hassle, who would ever go though with all of that?! but thanks to the internet communication means I am effectively right there with the people I knew back east. we can still send links of weird things back and forth to one another. Given that our brains and ideas can still flow almost freely (you do lose something important without visuals or sound but the influx of cheap webcams like the iSight and microphones and things like SKYPE make that lessen by the day) means the gain from actually meeting someone face to face is minimal which draws our world closer together but also throws it further apart.

Thats all for now.

The Pope Pirates say ARRRibadurrci