Bitsphere's Weblog

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Jsocialcloud – Why it is cool to publish code

cloud2014In September ’14 Bitsphere published a small Javascript work on http://sourceforge.net/projects/jsocialcloud/.  The published code lets coders embed links to various social media accounts as images floating in a div. Please visit http://bitsphere.ch/bitsphere/index.php?id=23&L=0 for an example implementation of the code.

This is the first code piece Bitsphere published and it let to several insight about coding. To share some of them with you will find a short list in the next paragraph:

  1. To publish code forces to format the code in a very proper way.  It forces the programmer to go over the code several times and keep the comments and the styling proper. This fact alone should make publishing source code to a public site a part of tech education
  2. Package management is not that easy ( at least at Sourceforge ). When altering a file after publishing the .zip file the .zip needs to be redone too. This sounds trivial but somehow slows down fast modifications. So if you publish make sure that you plan some time for the publishing itself.
  3. To have code on line is cool. People may convince themselves of the capabilities at Bitsphere and a sample work – though a small one – is always at hand when discussing achievements and former results which tends to stay in a much more abstract level whitout even a link to accomplished work. (This may help in job interviews).
  4. Things never are perfect. Bitsphere always thinks of some changes that will come in a next release though at some point release 1.0 has to be declared as finished. Then it comes to your proper project management that you keep track of the next steps to be done.

 

If you look for a add-on for your homepage check back the code at the link at top and leave a comment about your experience!


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New site design on this blog

Just announcing that the Bitsphere Blog switched to another more mobile friendly theme called “Yoko”. Maybe it is a tribute to Yoko Ono? She is still active: Here is her soundcloud account:

Feel free to share your experience with this theme in the comment box!


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Rule based live music

note_symbol“Audible/Inaudible 2012 -2014″

During the last two years Bitsphere performed an anonymous rule based live piece at a local bar which lies at the entry of the inner city when coming from the Bitsphere office. The piece for piano consists of some rules which will be listed in the next paragraph. The piece described here originated in a spontaneous idea and is an example of artistic intervention in everyday live. With the description of this peace and possible impacts Bitsphere likes to invite others to accoustic involvement in shared living spaces.

The rule set

  1. Every day the player passes the bar he has to enter and play the next tone on a chromatic scale beginning at the lowest note if all the rules apply
  2. The player should play only if he passes alone
  3. The player should be in a proper state for working according to governmental working rules
  4. The Piano shall be unoccupied
  5. No other musician shall play in the bar at the time
  6. Nothing should be purchased when entered to play a tone

Performance

By applying this rules it was possible to play all the keys of the grand piano within two years. The bar is usually closed Sunday and Monday but opens early in the morning and does not close before midnight. In the summer time sometimes they close in the afternoon to move to an outdoor location some paths away. Bitsphere only once had the chance to play the tone there (this tone was doubled) when some band installed a keyboard over there.

Observations

After a while some of the frequenter where aware that Bitsphere had a certain regulatory and they started to interact after the tone was played. One occasionally applauded and it is quite sure he sort of realized what was going on though Bitsphere tried to hide which means a visitor who only heard one of the tones should have thought there is someone just hitting a key for whatever reason. In general the relation to the waiters was relaxed randomly they tried to sell a beer to Bitsphere after the tone had gone. But this did not apply to rule #6.

Due to rule #2 the piece passed relatively anonymously there were no one told what was going on. It was just like entering – acting – listening – leaving and this kind of loneliness when inserting a sound to the daily noises with a melody only aware to one person in the beginning let to certain reflections about music which may not come easy in other ways. The difference in the player – the spectators – and even the tuning of the piano over the time is observed.

The player in his inner state – sometimes resisting to play though the rules do all apply – sometimes wanting to advance even if one ore more rule is not fulfilled has to remember over the whole span which note has to played at the next occasion which sometimes takes a little longer to come. The spectators were divided in two groups: Some not aware that this is a piece of music as just another one presses one of the keys of the piano, some aware there is someone who comes back regularly to play just one note on the piano which was at least tuned one time over the two years.

What is next?

After this piece Bitsphere wants to do more live events and perhaps faster rule based performances. Please drop some words in the comment box if you have experience in rule based live music or any other thing to say! You may also name some rules here and Bitsphere will try to perform them!

 


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Five ways to map sound to a 2D Graph

20120503 animation 14Recently working on a piece which uses data sets Bitsphere will introduce later this year the question how to map sound to a 2D representation rose again. The most common application of this mapping is the step sequencer where one dimension is applied to the time and the other to a specific sound.

To give an overview over the topic Bitsphere prepared an incomplete list of possible mappings in this post.

The basic question is how to represent a given mathematical two dimensional set to a sound by applying sound control to the values of the x and y axis. A graphical representation of a data st may look like this:

chart_2d_example

There are some obvious and less obvious technologies in the list following:

x -> Time –  y -> Frequency

This might be the most common application as seen on score sheets: One dimension shows the time range counting forward the other indicates the pitch of the melody. This is what a sequencer program like the old tracker programs basically were designed for: Determine at what time which note has to be played.

x-> Time – y -> Instrument (Sound)

The correlation between time and instrument is rather simple. In the two dimensional representation one axis shows the elapsing time the other axis’ values are assigned to an instrument. Obviously to determine which instrument has to be played an integer value is required but a good program may use the values in between to trigger the volume of the two instruments at the limiting integers.

x-> Time – y-> 2. Harmonic

With this mapping the pitch of the tone evolving is not altered but its quality when manipulating the 2. harmonic. This raises various possibilities for example some more harmonics may be bound to one of the 2D axis. Or just the odds. Check back the resources on the net for harmonic additive synthesis.

x-> Time – y->  Filter

This is a common practice in live use where filters are altered over time manipulating the sound. Disk Jockeys do this by hand though this may be implemented in code too.

x-> Time – y-> Volume

Mapping sound to volume may seem a rather boring thing, it is indeed a very powerful tool. In classical music the effect is known as dynamics. Most of you will know the signs pp, p , mf, f, ff and their numerous variations. Its extrems are ‘mute’ – ‘on’ which is the binary of all sounds existence and becomes very dynamic when differently applied to multiple sounds at a time.

Further thoughts

As stated above this list is incomplete. Bitsphere appreciates any comment on this post with other possible mappings. The real power of this mappings lies in the multidimensionality when more than one of them is used in the same piece. This might be the topic of a post to come.

 


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3 Lessons learned from publishing the sounds Muses I-IV

As you will find on http://bitsphere.bandcamp.com as well as http://soundcloud.com/bitsphere-sounds there are already 4 of the Muse ringtones online. Bitsphere will publish the other 5 to come in the next few months. Lessons learned so far:

  • Even with good preparation and a blog schedule there is always something incoming distracting us from publishing especially on social media
  • The sounds break with the style used in all the other ring tones before – the outcome is not clear yet but it definitely attracted another audience on soundcloud
  • Not only huge companies but also niche player re-use user generated content to generate traffic on their site by liking, retweeting or whatever is possible on your preferred site. So far it is a win-win situation by Bitspheres point-of-view.

Please follow the bitsphere soundcloud account to stay up to date with the muses project!


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bitsphere.ch – New Site Design and Typo3 Backend

timelessDuring the quiet days around the end of the year bitsphere.ch got the new site design promised in January 2013. The site is running with a Typo3 backend which makes it easier to change and add content. Typo3 – especially typoscript – is not that easy to handle but rewards with robustness and a lot of possibilities to tailor the software for specific purposes. As by now there is no intention to move this blog away from wordpress.com since the people here have done a great job in the last years, the .com site is regularly updated by the stuff and Bitsphere may use the new features immediately. Furthermore wordpress.com has a rather good integration in social networks. Anyways Bitsphere is happy to have a new home so check it out and leave your comments here at the blog!


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Musical Biosensor by Marco Donnarumma

note_symbolIn the recent days Bitsphere did some hardware assembling due to the great open source work of Marco Donnarumma called x-th sense. An open hardware project which aims to amplify muscle sounds. The local hardware distributor here in Switzerland offered all the pieces need for the assembly except the “protokit” mentioned in the xth-sense documentation and the sensor is build in less than an afternoon by a newbee to hardware assembling for the on-line documentation is really detailed.

Bitsphere replaced the protokit with a “Hammond Manufactoring 1593KBK Handheld Box”, sawed a piece out of an epoxy fibre-glass labor card (the RE523-LF by Roth Elektronik) which fits in the box and screwed it into the box. That is about the pieces the original kit consists of.

To get the software running was the harder part. It was not that easy to get the required version of puredata extended. Finally it turned out there is a repository for the beta builds with the required versions. Then the directory names mentioned in the x-th sense how-to have to be created on the local disk the very same.

For those interested in readings about body sounds you find an article about biomusic in the Journal of Sonic Studies.

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