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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Boodler: generative music on the cheap
I'm rereading Brian Eno's A Year With Swollen Appendices - his diary from 1995, which reads exactly like he concurrently invented the weblog right along with Justin Hall et alia. Among all kinds of other great stuff, it depicts the beginnings of Eno's interest in "generative music." In 1995, Eno began working with an app called Koan, for which you can download a demo. The first time I read this book, I went and played with Koan immediately... and was stymied by its obscure interface seemingly intended for people with years of MIDI sorcery under their belts. (They now have an allegedly-simpler package called Koan X which I haven't tried.)

Then I found Boodler. Its author, noted interactive-fiction scion and game designer Andrew Plotkin, describes it as "a programmable soundscape tool" and mainly uses it for ambiences that are not musical, strictly speaking. However, with the instructions here, some short WAV files, a touch of music theory and a little Python code (not exactly an easy interface, but at least it's straightforward to learn - and you can reuse it to make desktop apps! Try that with MIDI!), you could be rollin' with heat. And did I mention it's free? Give it a try - if you have trouble with the Windows version, it's worth grabbing a Linux live CD of some sort to fool with it. (And Mac OS X users should do well, naturally.)
:: posted by Mike Sugarbaker, 1:37 PM Comments (0)
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