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Recipe for the week of November 20 - 26

An Audio Interlude: ambient soup (midi format)

I am often asked whether there are algorithms based on CA rules or other complex dynamics that make music worth listening to. There is certainly appeal to the idea of patterned sound that skirts the edge of chaos, but I have rarely responded to aleatory composition. So my reponses to such inquiries has been decidedly skeptical. Perhaps this is largely a matter of personal taste.

Recently, though, I find myself quite taken with the ambient computer-generated stochastic music emanating mainly from the UK. As a break from our usual CA graphics, this week I offer some links to information, recordings, and authoring software in this area.

For background I recommend the
Epsilon Ambient Archive

Although Brian Eno is the most celebrated musician in this area, my current favorite is Richard James, aka the Aphex Twin.

If you want to sample some of the best of the genre, get James' double CD
Selected Ambient Works Vol.2
which you can buy on the Web from World Wide Music (register, for free, first).

Then, if you decide you might be interested in composing some of this stuff, check out the ambient music software from
SSEYO Koan music

and their
Koan Pro Ambient Music System

in particular. This week's soup is a minute-long Midi snippet from one of the Koan samples at their Web site. You will need to configure your browser to support a Midi player in order to hear it. The electronic effects are much more impressive when one uses the Koan Plus dedicated format and player, for which there are several pieces included in the Plus and Pro demos. A word of warning, though: trans-Atlantic downloading from Britain can be excruciatingly slow, so you might want to get the demos overnight.

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