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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

The Many Flowerings of Otomata

Otomata is a simple generative audio app, in which chance collisions yield unexpected patterns, both visual and sonic. Its arrival on the Internet a month ago has, in turn, yielded unexpected flowerings, from myriad new patterns generated and shared by users (pictured here is one such example), to its employment in fixed sound recordings, to its inspiration of new software development. What follows is a survey of just some of those efforts, much of it (audio and software) downloadable for free. (Meanwhile, read an interview with the Otomata developer, Batuhan Bozkurt, “When Cells Collide,” and check out the software itself at earslap.com.)

Mitzilla‘s “Audio Recording on Sunday Afternoon” (at soundcloud.com/mitzilla) uses the beading pulses of Otomata as a rhythm track, against which he plays generously spaced strums of an acoustic guitar. It’s a promising sketch of what will, one hopes, eventually yield a more fleshed-out composition. Mitzilla hails from El Paso, Texas:

For DrDerek, the Otomata-derived material provides not the rhythm but the melody, to which he adds other digitally sourced material (“my Electribe SX-1 and Korg Kaoss Pad 3 and the Korg Kaossilator Pro. recorded live,” he explains, listing his tools with one caveat: “some things may sound a bit off”). The result (at soundcloud.com/drderek) is louche, loungey electronica.

And for bongo_g, who is based in Amherst, Massachusetts, Otomata provided not sound source material, but an overall approach. His “Ricochet1″ (at soundcloud.com/user4724971) is evidence of an implementation of an Otomata-like software tool that he is developing on the popular device called the Monome.

Bongo posted the code at monome.org, where the discussion is ongoing. Here is a video demonstration (from vimeo.com) of bongo’s Otomata-derived instrument on a 256-cell Monome, performed by Machsymbiont:

Just to take the proceedings one further step meta and virtual, this next video (also at vimeo.com) shows Bongo’s Monome implementation of Otomata as ported to the Nomome, which is a software emulation of the Monome on a 64-cell device called the Novation Launchpad:

And because no cultural instance is complete without an iOS app implementation, this is Sound Cells (at apple.com), which debuted in the iTunes App Store earlier this month. As its developer notes, Otomata’s inventor is himself working on an iOS version. Sound Cells offers six different scales, among them the Hang scale, based on the Hang drum, which was the inspiration for Otomata’s tuning:

Two more videos. This is Otomata paired with another sound app, called SoundPrism:

And this is four instances of Otomata working together in tandem — with TV food personality Alton Brown (the patron chef of hackers) in the background:

Check out the original Otomata software for free at earslap.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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