Note: This example uses Minimal Comps by Keith Peters
Update: After about 6 months of use there were over 60 compositions saved on the MORT. Sadly, today the file containing the data for the compositions was corrupted. So, as of 2011.01.25 the MORT composition collection is back where it started. I’ll just look at the data loss as a lesson learned and something to plan against in the next version… coming soon to a browser near you.
I have been experimenting with audio programming for the past few weeks. Earlier posts to this blog have explored single concepts of audio synthesis with code and in a way M.O.R.T. is the product of that research, plus a few additional features. It is still very early in development, so consider this a prototype. There are many optimizations to be made. If you are interested in reading more about the technical details, future of the makemachine open source audio library, or collaborating, click the link to Source Code below.
Each rows contains thirty-two steps, or four measures, and represents one note in a scale. Each row has a button to its left that can be used to mute the entire row. As the sequence plays from left to right, each column of notes is triggered for an eighth note in the thirty-two note sequence. You can create rhythms and melodies by clicking and dragging across the squares in the grid. You can also turn off notes easily by clicking on selected cells. The tempo and volume of the of the sequence can be changed with the two knobs at the lower left of the interface. The tempo also controls the sustain of the note. A slower tempo generates a longer note and a faster tempo generates shorter notes. The filter knob can be used to contour the high frequencies. The waveform drop down menu allows you to choose between three types of waveform, each providing a unique tonal quality to the sound.
There are various note configurations that can be selected from the “Scales” drop down menu in the middle right of the interface. The scales are based on formal arrangements and open guitar tunings. Some of the scales reside in a lower registers and their notes can be difficult to hear through laptop speakers.
The buttons on the lower right side of the interface should be pretty self-explanatory. Note the “Save” and “Load” feature. You can save your compositions! This can be useful for creating a series of sequences as you can load saved sequences while the program is playing back. You don’t need an account to save your sequence and no personal information is required. Just enter a title for the sequence and your name ( real or assumed ) and press save. Once you save, anyone who uses M.O.R.T. will be able to load your sequence and listen or modify it. As a bonus for me, saving a sequence will help me see which features people are or are not using. Your feedback is also greatly appreciated.
M.O.R.T. is a rather elaborate acronym for Modular Orchestral Rhythm Tool. Yeah, it’s a long name, but…
it originated as an homage to an early pioneer of electronic music named Morton Subotnick, who was one of the first to use synthesizers to generate rhythmic and tonal electronic music.
Nearly every experiment I post to this site has a link to source code. In the case of M.O.R.T., I am going to wait to make the code available. I put this program together rather quickly and as mentioned above, there is much to be done in the way of optimization. In addition to optimizing, I’d like to break the code apart to be more structured and add thorough comments. Further, I am planning to begin work on a larger library for creating audio on the web and desktop. I will use M.O.R.T. as a way of testing ideas and frameworks and when I find a system that works, I’ll open it up. If you are interested in either programming or interface design collaboration, feel free to send an e-mail my way » email@example.com.