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AWS Composer. Profanity. 

My initial thoughts on AWS composer:

A keyboard.

A... Keyboard.

A FUCKING KEYBOARD.

The "brightest minds" let loose to try and figure out how to apply the Latest and Greatest Machine Learning has to offer. Deep pockets, practically unlimited resources. And...

a god damn fucking keyboard interface.

Did nobody bother to contact an actual musician? Fuck.

I'm so done with keyboardists determining the so-called "future of music technology". The world could be so much more than this. (And if you squint your ears, it really is!)

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul what would you have instead?

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki

That's a tough question to answer well.

My hot-aired answer is "literally anything else" because the keyboard interface has been so deterimental to computer music.

My ambiguous unhelpful answer is:

anything that encourages continuous control over discrete control, and melody over polyphony, that *feels* good to play.

My hasty answer, a direct (but flawed) solution:

A high-resolution tablet with low latency audio and multi-touch support. On-board DSP, with high quality DAC (and maybe audio in as well?). Also pressure sensitivity. And one of those HD haptic systems. Is it possible to localize haptics to each finger being pressed? because yes, I'll have that as well. All hacker-friendly and completely re-programmable, of course.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul per finger haptics is an interesting notion. i suppose you could attach a piezoelectric speaker to each finger and synthesize the frequency signal your fingertip nerves interpret as fingerprint ridges plucking fine surface details, and sync that to accellerometer data for each finger.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul then you would have, i don’t know, virtual strings on the glass representing in tune notes?

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul fun little fact about our capacitive touch display technology is it can sense the finger a few centemetere *away* from the surface. software just normally throws that information away. in iOS’s case before an app gets to see it, I guess.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul i once had a quartz composer plugin that gave you the full information from the multitouch touch pad on a macbook. it includes that, and also the surface area and ANGLE of each finger contact. you could get about 90% of what you want from a stock apple magic touchpad. with the right software.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki That's so freaking cool. Kind of reminds me of the radio-baton somewhat, which Max Matthews always called a 2.5 dimensional controller.

It seems the control has been there for a while, we just need more musically inclined individuals in key spots to be able to facilitate the right expressive sound mappings in the instrument design process.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul the hardware is there. the API is apparently there, somewhere, for my quartz composer plugin to work. whether anyone writing music software has put that 1 and 1 together to make a 2, I don’t know

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki Is quartz composer still a thing? I thought Apple deprecated that.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul they did. I’m a crusty hold out who is refusing to upgrade to catalina for the “benefit” of removing features I care about.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

Maybe, maybe not.

The idea is to explore the natural affordances of the interface itself, not try to imitate something like a guitar or piano.

I've found horizontally segmented displays that have "snap-to-note" features that can be turned on and off to be a good start for 2d displays. I'd want to encourage sounds/expression that closely resemble the human voice, rather than the piano. You sometimes want fretless-ness for that because you want fine-tuned control over vibrato, as it will greatly define the sound of a particular player.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul frets! that’s the word i wanted instead of strings. like, i mean it only in the sense of, if you’ve got your haptics glove for texture, frets seems like a natural thing to try.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki

You could also do some dope stuff with physics simulations. Things colliding into other things. Building/painting objects into existence, adding mass/energy, then swishing them around like a finger in a fishbowl. Music of the spheres?

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki I'm also the sort of person who thinks deeply about what it means to be a "note", and what makes a particular note be "musical".

My sights are set on interfaces which somehow remove the burden of finding the "right" or "perfect" note, and instead focus on the shaping and trajectory of that note. I think that's where the more profound parts of music come from. How we say things, not what we say.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul i’m no musician, but I find this kinda stuff fun to think about. me trying to figure out how to make better tools for music making is a bit like a colorblind person trying to create better design tools.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul which is to say, I want a tool where I can just randomly scribble in a box, and good music comes out.

which is a different need from wanted as many degrees of high definition realtime control as possible, requiring practiced mastery over every muscle twitch to get good sounds.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki

Well, I went to music school. It ain't everything. Actually, sometimes it's unhelpful. Tunnel vision and all. Every first-year music student seems to go through the same every-pop-song-sounds-the-same crisis after learning some theory. It can take many years to undo that mentality (if at all).

I believe most people are musical to some extent. You ever kick a can down the road? Or press a button with a very satisfying click? This, to me, is music, at very fundamental level (and you don't need a fancy-pants music degree to enjoy it neither!). This kind of interaction, this feeling, is what I believe to be the right way forward for music + tech + society.

Most music software isn't written for that though. Like, the DAW is mostly geared for "industry" music professionals. That is to say, optimized for folks who need to do things like write a jingle for this commercial in this media format quick enough to make this deadline. Not my interest though.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul oh, I am not ruined by self consciousness. I enjoy a good jam. I just don’t expect anyone else to enjoy it.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki

Have you ever checked out any of Brian Eno's apps? Especially Bloom. I think they encourage a certain kind of musicianship which is accessible to everyone. Also, it takes effort to make it sound bad. I have a soft spot for pretty sounding things.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul no. thanks for the rec!

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul i have this pixel art program I made a few years ago. yip.pe (formerly pix.pe), for a while I wanted a mode where you could turn the pixels into a short bit of music, but got stuck in analysis paralysis.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul hmm the url didn’t autodetect. https://yip.pe

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@zensaiyuki Encoding the image in the URL is a clever idea. The auto-draw utilities seem pretty neat.

I've tried (and failed) a few times at converting pixel data to sound. Mostly boring results. There tends to be a lot of (literally) redundant-sounding stuff if you do a pixel-by-pixel approach.

The most success I got was converting a grayscale image into a kind of additive synthesizer. Each row represented a fixed frequency of an oscillator, with the X axis representing time, and the shade representing the amplitude.

It's a bit piercing, so volume down:

soundcloud.com/the-zebra-proje

Took forever to render. Also, not a novel idea.

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul @zensaiyuki

I had some nicer sounds doing this kind of thing using circles instead of straight lines, even when my computer generated textures were seamlessly repeating. At one point I had a control to vary radius and scan speed separately, which gave interesting effects - less pitched, but still with definite features at audio scales.
archive.org/details/ClaudiusMa

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul @zensaiyuki oh seems I misunderstood what you were doing. Yours seems similar to the GridFlow example "photo pianoroll" gridflow.ca/gallery/photo_pian

AWS Composer. Profanity. 

@paul interesting, though i was thinking more along the lines of repurposing the pixels to represent something like a short loop, plus some instrument parameters, and giving some real time feedback. now a few years later there’s tons of little html5 things that do similar stuff.

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