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  The published code lets coders embed links to various social media accounts as images floating in a div. Please visit 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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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:


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.


Leave a comment – New Site Design and Typo3 Backend

timelessDuring the quiet days around the end of the year 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 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 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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Oneminute Ups and Downs


As mentioned earlier this year Bitsphere participated again at the Oneminute contest in Aarau, Switzerland. Sad enough the programming had to be done in rather difficult personal circumstances so it is way not the best video and the jurors in Aarau shared this opinion by screening it off the contest. To see it olympic: there is a video in 2013 and it was screened at all:


Last years video was selected by for a screening in various museums in Benelux countries. It was part of a series of videos referencing to “rhytm” which was screened during August in unexpected places in some known houses. For those who have not seen the video yet here you find it again:

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QR code sonification video and sound file

bitsphere_microAs announced in January Bitsphere created another oneminute video. Other than planned earlier this year it is not an augmented reality video but a study of a QR code acting as a sequencer and visuals related to this topic. Lack of evidence in the earlier concept led to this change of concept. Sonification of a QR code was on Bitsphere’s wish list for a long time. As usual the video will be posted on the youtube channel as soon as the oneminute festival in Aarau is over.

In the meanwhile Bitsphere is very proud that the Amsterdam oneminute foundation accepted last year’s video for occasional use in various contexts. So far no screening seems planned but you will be kept up to date when this changes.

Furthermore there is an uploaded example of a QR sonification on soundcloud. The root is the micro QR code in the post header image you find at the top left of this post.  Thoughts on QR codes you may find here on this blog. As usual you are invited to leave a comment in the comment section!

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Non deterministic or rule based music

What is rule based art?

Non deterministic art has been around quite a while. In the recent decades it started to break out from modern art museums via computer games while inserting itself into business under the name gamification. Rule based art has many forms of appearance.  Be it a painting which is made of several pieces which can be moved by the spectator or an installations which depends on various influences like the sound of this windharp embedded in a natural environment. In this post Bitsphere likes to share some insights into the basics of rule based music creation.

Rules and interconnections

Out of very few rules are generally a lot of possible combinations arising. Imagine the action of driving a car: There are few possibilities: left – right – forward – backward – fast – slow. By applying these rules you may reach more places than you would have time to in a lifetime.

If the driver lined up all his decisions by this rules to describe his way from home to the grocery store it would go like: forward 10m – right 90° – forward 500m – right 75° – forward 400m – left 100° – forward 45m. It is clear that only one alteration in the description led to another outcome (the car stops at the gas station for example) and if altering two or more decisions led to a completely other outcome (the car ends up in a holiday resort abroad).

What we also may keep in mind is that there might be other ways to get to the grocery store. Which says that another application of the rules leads to the same outcome.

Example of rule based music construction

To give you a short example of how to work with rules here is a sample piece of music which is based on two rules:

  1. In each bar the note is shifted up by a third in the diatonic scale (and transposed to a certain range)  g – h – d – f – a – c – e – g
  2. The rhythm in each bar corresponds to a digital number 000001, 00000010, 000000011, 00000100, etc. If there appears a 1 in the number there is sound and if not there is none.

That is how the first eight bars look like in classical score:

Variation II for blog.-2

This is how it sounds like:

If you have anything to say about ruled based art and music – may it be a link to a resource or your personal opinion – drop me a line!