Bitsphere's Weblog

… a bitart weblog


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The Elements Of Design by Patrick Butler

After the recent change in the interior design of the office Bitsphere pinned printouts of the two pdfs “Elements of Design” and “Principles of Design” by Patrick Butler at the pin-board. The documents are available for download at

http://splitcomplementary.blogspot.ca/2012/08/new-and-improved-elements-and.html

The elements are not necessarily unknown in the art world as Bitsphere found them back in the photography book “Learning to see creatively” by Bryan Peterson. The principles apply not only to visual arts but are common in music and dance too. During the next few months the pdfs will stay pinned and there may be another post about the “Elements of Design” which are Line, Shape, Form, Colour, Value, Texture and Space.

 


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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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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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Soundmapping: Appeareance, Technology and Shortcomes

neuchatel_mapHere are some news from the soundmap project which Bitsphere promised to keep you up to date with: Things are going on. The initial idea of recording some nice sounds and put them on a map let to some difficulties and interesting insights.

it turned out field recording is not plug and play. There are some issues a newbie is not aware and gets to learn:

  1. Get good equipment as soon as possible. If not the precious time you spent is lost apart from some research value.
  2. Car noises are ubiquitous: Best time to do recordings of environmental sound in a township seems to be at night when you may have the chance of not getting disturbed by cars.
  3. There are good news: If ever you start doing field recording and even if it is on a very basic level your listening abilities will grow and your mind will get insights in different qualities of noises like:
  • There are a lot of sounds around which may be called dynamic: building sites, cries, car breaks, thunder. This sounds enrich the soundscape but are only of partial interest for soundmapping since even when put on a map they may not be found again.
  • On the other hand there are dynamic sounds which appear and reappear regularly, typically church bells or trains passing in a regular interval.
  • Finally there are more static sounds which may be put on a map for they are long-lasting or eternal: Waves on the seaside, highways, rivers, echoes and many more. This sounds are what seems most valuable in soundmapping where people are invited to do soundwalks with a map constructed in another time.

Considering this it seems easier to go on by defining interesting sounds on a map and record them afterwards with a proper equipment which has to be evaluated, set up, tested and properly handled. The main work is about finding the right sounds by walking with aware ears. Once they are mapped there are several ways to transmit the places to an audience: Handling over a copy of the map, publish it on google maps, mark the places as audibly interesting or even make recordings and put them on a disk. If you know any others please let me know in the comment section!


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Listening to two radios

I would like to add a new listening post to the others filed in the category listening. The exercise is simple but it may enhance your ability to distinguish different sounds. It is inspired by John Cages Imaginary Landscape 4.

To start you will have to organize two or more sources of broadcast or playback-media. Best is playback so when in doubt you may reset your setting.

The exercise asks you to play all the sources you gathered at the same time and and while listening take notes on a sheet on what you hear either in quality of sounds or in musical terms. That is all you have got to do.

The longer you do it the more you will be aware of your inner ability to “mute” one sound and focus on the other and to strengthen your force not to do so.

If you have comments on the exercise or own exercises to propose please use the section below this post!


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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!


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A big draft for content

20130308_duckContent is king

Who actually is adding value to the blogs and twitters we are following? It seems although there are new social sites growing on a daily basis the amount of content out there is stable. In the mid 00’s there was a saying that 90% of the people are consumers where as 10% of the people really add fresh content as images, music or texts to websites. This may or may not be true any more. Most likely the ratio is the same today. But there are many more sharing buttons out there which allows surfers to duplicate links or even whole sources to other sites.

The same content keeps coming back

As the amount of sharing sites increase it is more and more likely that the same content is coming back to us. While there is more or less the same amount of creative people out there to really produce new stuff the number of communication channels increased dramatically in the last 5 years. So if we strip away all the sharing platforms from the content it seems likely that the production of content is stable. While more and more links to that content are circulating.

Some stats

In this visualization https://dl.dropbox.com/s/e6w0afi4h1rxjo6/statsoftheday_1206.jpg we can learn that 40% of all twitter users do not tweet at all and that many of the news are some girl magazine like things. But still there is a huge amount of links to content shared though this is not further specified in the image linked to above.

Keep going

This means that the people working to provide sources for the social nets and the internet are still few among many. Since every link has to end in some web page with user generated content there is today a bigger draft by the increasing number of sharing sites only made to forward articles, images, music or videos like pearltrees or pinterest. They provide an increasing number of users in need for links.

A word to those sharing

Many of you may feel totally alright with sharing only, in fact many people are, and if you are one of them then you are among only 9% of all internet users according to the 1% rule. There is an interesting analogy to that kind of participating and the ready-made, also known as objet trouvé. If you have any other websites designed for “sharing only” apart from the aforementioned, please leave a comment in the form next to this post.