Zack Aman

13 Feb 2015

D.O.R.T.H.E. by Lasse Munk and Søren Andreasen

D.O.R.T.H.E. is takes input from a typewriter and analyzes the words and uses both the easily quantifiable aspects (such as number of letters in a word) as well as the more intangible aspects (sentiment analysis) and then uses Max/MSP to route that input to a noise-generating machines built from scrap electronics.

The part that I find most inspiring about the project is the output; the use of actual, electronics and mechanics give the sound produced a much richer, expressive tone. My favorite part is when the dangling plastic gets moved onto the fan for a quick percussive roll. There’s as much an art with finding great sounds as there is for composition (harkening back to found sound pieces starting in the early 1900’s), and these guys nail the sound selection. It reminds me of a project I wanted to do with recording the sounds of 3D printers and trying to compose music based on the sound output and then having physical, printed representations of the music. It’s important to remember that generative form is both input and output, and both sides are solid in D.O.R.T.H.E.


City Symphonies by Mark McKeague

This project uses a traffic simulation built in Processing and MaxMSP to create generative music based on the connections and placements of different cars.

The concept of this piece is great: cars are an interesting, dynamic spatial data set that are ripe for audio synthesis. Where I think this project falls down is on the output side; the sounds themselves are uninteresting and the relation between input and output is unclear. The simple sin-wave form of the synthesized output is clean (too clean), a pure signal that harkens back to dial-up modems. It gives the impression of music by computers for computers — if this is the intention, it would be great if the sound could hold enough information for the visual to be reconstructed from the sound alone.

Making music from transit has a long history, such as Pierre Schaeffer’s “Etude aux Chemins de Fer,” but in each case the musical output should be something interesting. Schaeffer was revolutionary for suggesting that the everyday sounds of trains could be art. McKeague is attempting to find beauty in traffic patterns, but does not manage to find beautiful patterns nor does he translate complexity into intriguing sounds.