A new software for live electronics and algorithmic composition
Some months ago I’ve started dreaming of a software, a tool made to help me develop evolving musical structures in realtime. What I was looking for was a way to arrange sounds coming from the Buchla synthesizer or any of my softwares, without the use of a classic multitrack audio editor, a realtime tool capable of following precise instructions as well as of using some degree of chance and most importantly, capable of rearranging every parameter involved at the touch of a button in million ways. My musical research is strongly linked to the poetics of the “open work” (Umberto Eco – Opera Aperta, 1962) wherefore I am deeply fascinated by the idea of music as a constantly evolving process rather than a fixed path. As a basis for this new software there are two very different musical discoveries (some may say antithetical): 1) The idea of a music the outcome of which is not foreseen, a fundamental theme of experimental music which was given birth by the “New York school” (Cage, Brown, Feldman) and 2) The formal organization of sound structures that use internal homothety and avoid repetition, theorized by the European composers of post-war serialism (Eimert, Stockhausen, Evangelisti and so on). To these two I’ve added a third possible approach, very common among modular synthesizer musicians: improvisation.
Variations blends experimental music and serialism together into a powerful tool able to arrange a single music piece in more than 319 million ways at the click of a button.
In many ways, Variations is the perfect companion of Gleetchlab and Berna.
Gleetchlab and Berna deal with sound manipulation and creation, Variations deals with sound organization. It’s a composition tool.
The concept is simple. The software has 4 tracks. Each track uses 12 unique “cells” – i.e. non looping samples – for a total of 48 cells.
These samples can be recorded in realtime or loaded from your hard disk. A cell can be an improvisation part, or a tone row that follows the classic dodecaphonic rules, or concrete sounds.
At the basis of the software there is a sequence of numbers (a sort of musical DNA) that rule every part of the composition; these are 12 non-repeating numbers (called the original row) from 0 to 11, ordered in any way you want (randomly too). This row is then automatically permuted with the classic twelve tone technique into a “serial matrix”: a magic square made of 12 rows. Each row can be read sequentially by the software from left to right (Prime Rows), from right to left (Retrograde Rows), from top to bottom (Inversion Rows), or from bottom to top (Retrograde of Inversion Rows).
Each one of the 4 tracks has 8 “serialized” parameters (i.e. each parameter is sequentially controlled by a row) to variate the track.
The parameters define: (still work in progress!) the the cell number sequence, cell’s pitch/duration, delay/feeddback, LPF cutoff, a parameter of a VST plugin, the distance (amplitude) and pan. The spatialization can be stereophonic, quadraphonic or octophonic.
Despite the dodecaphonic heritage, the software is easy to use also for non trained musicians.
The software is no longer available