The Endless Tale … (Asemic Writing animation)

From Wikipedia:

Asemic Writing is a wordless open semantic form of writing. The word asemic means “having no specific semantic content”, or “without the smallest unit of meaning”. With the non-specificity of asemic writing there comes a vacuum of meaning, which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. …. Asemic writing is a hybrid art form that fuses text and image into a unity, and then sets it free to arbitrary subjective interpretations. …

Inspired by a challenge launched by Robert Boran on the Facebook group Creative Coding with Processing and P5.js I created a Processing sketch that simulates an Asemic Writing. The technique is based on a sequence of eight random “words” that alternates randomly; each “word” is a combination of “elliptic oscillators” that follows the rectlinear movement of the (hidden) pen on the page.

The animation is accompained by a simple purely generative soundscape made with VCV Rack and Native Instruments Absynth VST.

This is the final result.

As soon as I clean-up a little bit the code (actually a mess) I’ll publish it here and add more details.



… The Ugliest Album: The Alien Ping

In a previous post (see here) I talked about “The world’s ugliest music”, a composition made by Scott Rickard using some math techniques in order to minimize the repetitions and the predictability of the sequence of notes. I also made my personal interpretation of the piece using a synthesizer and VCV Rack.

Then I launched a “challenge” on the VCV Community site asking VCV users to give their own interpretation of the ugliest music in an “sci-fi alien context” starting from the MIDI file or a small VCV template with the sequence. Many users accepted the challenge and created very interesting patches (and accompaining videos) … surely if put together they well represent THE UGLIEST ALBUM: The Alien Ping.

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The Ugliest Music on Synthesizer

Recently I saw a TEDx video by Scott Rickard about “The world’s ugliest music”; and I suggest you to watch it.
Usually good music is characterized by a balance between repetition and variation, applied to one or many of the components of the music itself: melody, texture, rhythm, form, and harmony. So what happens if we try to completely remove the repetitions?

In Scott’s music a math formula is used to generate all the 88 notes of a piano and their duration: starting from value 1, the next value is generated multiplying by 3 the previous one. If the value exceeds 88 then 89 is repeatedly subtracted until the value falls back in the 1-88 range:

1, 3, 9, 27, 81, 243–>154–>65, 195–>106–>17, … and so on

Sequences of this type are known as Costas Arrays (or Costas permutations) ; they have been studied by John Costas during his search for ideal sonar waveforms (‘pings’).

The duration of the notes are calculated using a Golomb ruler : each note is placed on the timeline in a special position (“mark”) in order to avoid any recognizable rythmic pattern. Indeed in a Golomb ruler the positions of the marks are such that all distances between them are distinct. The sequence of 88 note durations (expressed in 1/16th)  used in the ugliest music is the following:

33, 3, 45, 10, 18, 47, 30, 311, 96, 46, 145, 37, 14, 17, 71, 22, 175, 132, 8, 66,
41, 251, 11, 50, 67, 59, 39, 23, 56, 34, 241, 2, 133, 35, 157, 204, 6, 108, 29,
57, 122, 52, 60, 89, 49, 85, 147, 218, 21, 32, 72, 44, 100, 19, 111, 16, 27,
178, 12, 181, 26, 38, 103, 99, 183, 20, 131, 78, 80, 4, 180, 15, 25, 212, 24,
286, 54, 9, 92, 5, 159, 7, 87, 42, 172, 13, 69, 1

You can listen to the music played on piano in the last part of the TEDx video; the title of the piece is “Costas Golomb N.1: The Perfect Ping” … and it is quite ugly. But I like creating “bleeps and bloops” on a modular synthesizer (actually I’m using VCV-Rack and a semimodular Behringer Neutron), and sometimes the results are often not really melodic … so I tried to make a patch and play the ugliest music on it.

I also made a simple sketch in Processing 3 in which the 88×88 grid (notes are from left-to-right, top-to-bottom) are displayed and a “sonar ping” is generated when each note is played.

If you want to experiment yourself you can download:

… and the Neutron patch:

Return to the Forbidden Planet

Forbidden Planet is a 1956 American Science Fiction film; one of the best SF films of those years (and of all time); all science fiction fans should see it (on a regular basis :-). Forbidden Planet – directed by Fred M. Wilcox – pioneered several elements that were resumed and developed later in many other SF films: humans traveling in a faster-than-light starship; it was the first to be set entirely on another planet far away from Earth; a robot with its own personality that has an active role on the plot.

Forbidden Planet Movie

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